Mushroom Feature (1972-1975)
Photo Gallery -
Band Lineups -
- Audio samples -
Where Are They Now?
Few bands generated the excitement, buzz and
hype that heralded the
short-lived Celtic rock band, Mushroom. The first mention of the
band we can find is in Pat Egan's Heavy Sounds column in
Spotlight in early December, 1972. He described them as as young
band who showed some promise. At this point, the lineup was John Dee
(guitar), Pat Collins (violin and mandolin), Alan Brown (bass), Colm
Lynch (drums) and Michael Power (keyboards). Pat Egan was the guru
of Irish rock in those days, and as he did not mention the band
prior to December, we can only assume, they either did not exist, or
had made no impression on the scene.
An advertisement in the December 21, 1972 issue of Spotlight
announced that after five months of rehearsals, the Dublin based
band were calling themselves Mushroom and "doing gigs all over the
country." We doubt this was true at the time as they were unknown
outside of Dublin at this point. Aside from a mention a few weeks
previously from Pat, the band were still not making any impact on
the scene. Despite this, there was talk of a single in January
called Beggar Man, which apparently was never released. At
this point John Dee (Donoghue?) was managing the band.
However, all that changed a few
weeks later. A new venue, the Fillmore West, in Bray had opened in
December, 1972. Although we have read that the venue could hold
4,000, it's beginnings were less than spectacular. It's opening
night on December 9th had to be canceled when Emerson, Lake and
Palmer did not show. The following week this was explained as being
due to the "present political situation." Subsequently the opening
night was December 16th featuring Horslips. A few weeks later, the
English band, Family, were scheduled to appear. Although they, too,
failed to arrive, the promoters quickly put together a free show
which included Dublin bands Eyeless, Cromwell, Johnny Duhan and
Mushroom. Pat Egan described Mushroom saying, they "spent an age
tuning up and even though they are a carbon copy of Horslips, they
go down well." Not the greatest endorsement at the time, but it
did hint at the popularity the band would enjoy with audiences over
the next few years.
One way or another, this
appearance seemed to catapult the band to a kind of instant stardom.
Pat Egan began talking about them on a weekly basis. Just a few
months later, in May, 1973, the band was being hailed as "the next
Horslips." A two page spread in Spotlight announced that the band
was being managed by Brian Molloy, then with the Tom Costello Organisation.
In February, 1973 it was announced that John Dee had left the band and was
17-year-old Aonghus McAnally (son of Irish actor Ray McAnally) on guitar. John
Dee had left and formed a new band in the same vein called Keltic Wine.
The same article (May) recounted
the band's nightmarish follow-up to their Fillmore West appearance
when they were booked to play support to the Strawbs in the Stadium
in Dublin on March 27th. The Strawbs did not show (are we sensing a pattern for
English bands, or Irish promoters here) and Mushroom attempted to
stretch their set which "freewheeled to a sluggish halt through a
mixture of discord and noise." The article also recounted that the
setback forced the band to rehearse even harder which helped polish
their performance and served to enhance their reputation with
On March 28th, an article in the
Evening Herald announced that the band had signed with the
Tom Costello organisation and would be heading to the studio to
record their first single which would be released on the Hawk label
before Easter. The same article said that four of the lads in the
band had previously played under the name "Hessuantah."
The band started touring the
ballrooms of Ireland on Easter Sunday (April 22nd), 1973. The band's
set (which included some rock n' roll, and mostly Irish traditional
tunes) gave rise to mixed reviews. Some places in Ireland loved
Celtic-rock and some not so much.
In the late spring of 1973, the
boys went into the studios and recorded their first single, Devil
Among the Tailors, which was an instant, and relatively massive,
hit which rode the wave of popularity for the Celtic-rock genre
started a few years earlier by Horslips. The record was released on
the Hawk label and spent 12 weeks in the Irish charts, topping out
at number four and outperforming even Horslips, who had only managed
(at that point) to barely crack the top ten with their classic
track, Dearg Doom (which stalled at number 8).
By the summer of 1973, Mushroom
had arrived. They started work on their first (and only) album and
continued to play ballrooms up and down the country. By the end of
the year, they had completed and released their album, Early One
Morning. We're not sure how the album sold but in some circles
it is considered a collector's item, a testament to the
In July, the band took part in one
of the strangest open air festivals on record, held in the
Showgrounds, Mullingar on the 29th. Top of the bill were the
Indians, with the rest of the bill including Mushroom, Brendan
Grace, The New Smokies, and local band "Johnny Irwin and Popcorn,"
all for the price of 60p. Sound equipment was supplied by the late,
great man from Glenamaddy, Joe O'Neill.
In February, 1974, the band was
featured on the cover of Spotlight, a further indication of their
popularity on the scene. Inside, Manager Brian Molloy said the band
was taking it easy, cutting back on their ballroom appearances, as
they preferred to play for "fans that listen" to the music. There
were talks of European tours, but the article said 1974 would be
focused on the Irish market, but mostly doing concerts. In his
February 7th column, Pat Egan said he saw the band for the first
time live and said that he liked their style, although they "lacked
experience." He still felt the band would be capable of great things
In late February, the band went
into the studios to record a new single. A few months later in May,
they released their second single, Kings and Queens. It only
stayed on the charts for two weeks and never got any higher than
number 13. It would be their last single, as far as we know. In
March, the band appeared at the Spotlight Poll Winners concert,
alongside Horslips and the top showbands of the day.
In August, it was reported in
Spotlight's Rock On column (Smiley Bolger) that plans had been
dropped to have Mushroom star in a one hour movie. Less than a month
later, it was reported the band had suffered a major split. Drummer
Colm Lynch left the band to move to Denmark and keyboardist Michael
Power left, reportedly to enroll in the School of Music. In early
October Paul Moran joined the band as the new drummer. A further
blurb in Spotlight in October, announced a major shift in the band's
musical direction, although no details were given.
The last reference we can find to
the band is a small blurb in the Quickies section of Spotlight's
Rock On column dated May 1, 1975. It simply stated, "Mushroom are
disbanding this week with the individual members going their
We will continue to research
whether the band got back together or not, but it appears after less
years Mushroom called it quits. Once hailed as the "next Horslips,"
the band's history is a tale of the fickle business which is
entertainment (especially in Ireland). Making quite a bit of noise in their first year on
the road, the band never quite recaptured that initial excitement
and quietly faded away like so many bands of the era.
More to come.....
click on thumbnails for full image