Gerry and the Ohio Feature (1964-1983)
Photo Gallery -
Band Lineups -
- Audio samples -
Where Are They Now?
Gerry Cronin from Tuam in County Galway, had an amazing career which
started when he joined the Johnny Flynn Band and continued with his
own band, The Ohio in the mid 1960's and continued
through his Cronin Family Band in the early 1980's.
Gerry had joined with the Johnny
Flynn band in the late 1950's (we think around 1958). For five years
or so, he learned his craft while the band continued to build its
reputation as one of the greatest dance bands to come out of the
West. In mid 1963 fellow Flynn bandmate Ollie Maloney decided it was time to make the big move
and he, Gerry and Billy Potter quit the band and formed the Ohio.
The new band's seven piece line-up
was: Gerry Cronin (vocals), Ollie Maloney (trumpet), Billy Potter
(guitar), Billy Carson (bass), Des Hopkins (drums), Ollie's brother
Jarlath Maloney (trombone), and John Lee (sax).
The first mentioned of Gerry and
the Ohio we can find is in the Ulster Herald in November, 1963.
It appears that almost immediately Billy Carson left the band as
although he was in the original line-up, by December, 1963, he had been
replaced by Johnny Browne on bass.
In the early days of the band,
there were often advertised as being "ex-Johnny Flynn" which helped
establish them as a credible new showband. They quickly started
playing dates nationwide and actually had a very quick rise to
prominence on the ballroom circuit. In the main, they touted the
talents of Gerry as vocalist and Ollie as trumpeter (a ploy several
bands of the era would also use as trumpet instrumentals were quite
popular back in those days).
In late 1964, the first line-up
major change took place when Paraic Potter, from Sligo, replaced John Lee
on sax. Paraic had previously been with the Clefoniaires Showband
1965 would be a pivotal year for
the band as they started the year with many publicity stories
centered around their impending trip to the studio, even asking fans
what song they would like the band to record. By March it was
announced that the new single would be the Bill Anderson song,
Tips of My Fingers with the Johnny Cash hit Ring of Fire
as the "B" side. It was finally released in May. In October the band
publicised that the record had actually entered the US Hot 100 at
number 63, although current research can not validate this claim,
which would have been hard to prove (or disprove) even back then.
In November of 1965, the band appeared on
RTE's "Showband Show."
By April, 1966, the band had
finally decided on a follow-up single which ended up being Among
the Wicklow Hills with A Little Bit of Heaven as the B
side. Initially heralded as a possible hit for the band, the song
was also recorded by superstar Larry Cunningham of the Mighty Avons
and it shot to number 2 in the Irish Charts and would always be
remembered as Larry's fourth top ten single.
As the record was being released,
in a shock move, bandleader and founding member Ollie Maloney quit
the band to start his own showband which debuted on Easter Sunday
night. His brother Jarlath also left the band and joined with
Patrick Keane (vocals), Brian Hurley (drums), Patsy Phelan (guitar),
Cyril Fullard (sax), and John Clancy (bass). Meanwhile, the Ohio
found more than adequate replacements in Liam Meade (keyboards) and
Marco Petrassi (trumpet) from Cork who had previously been with Jim
The Ohio wasted no time
introducing the newest member to the public and their next single
was an instrumental featuring Marco called Mynah Bird. The
popularity of the band did not seem affected by the departure of the
Maloney brothers and they continued to do great business around the
country. Manager Pat Creighton was quoted as saying the band would
not be hesitant about releasing records in the future as they had
lost out to the Mighty Avons with their last offering.
In April 1968, the band had
problems again when both Marco Petrassi and Liam Meade left to join
Michael Callaghan's Big Band. Eamon Mangan from the San Antones
showband stepped in for Marco and we think Frank Grealey replaced
Liam. Around this time, the band released a new single Fishing
for the Shoal with a tribute to Bobby Kennedy called Bobby
on the "B" side.
In late 1968, Gerry announced the
band was moving from it's country and western roots to a more pop
sound. They added an 18 year old drummer, Terry McCoy from Limerick
and made some changes to the lineup. In an interview
with Ken Stewart in the March 1, issue of Spotlight, Gerry told
Ken, "Our manager, Pat Creighton, thought some new faces would be an
improvement, so we had a reshuffle recently. Now its like
starting all over again. The band has taken a more flexible
approach. We play more chart material than we used to."
An article in Spotlight on April 26th, 1969 reported
that Paraic Potter had rejoined the Ohio and another in early 1969
said Walter Lynch was now on drums and Teddy McCoy was the new
keyboard player. Obviously line-up changes were becoming an issue
for the band.
In October, 1970, the band
performed entries in the Castlebar Song Contest, one of which, One
Step From Nowhere, won the pop section of the contest. Written by
John Lavery, the band recorded the song in Belfast and released
In the early 1970's interest in
the band seemed to wane but they became very active in the Castlebar
song contest with Gerry both singing entries and having success
with a few of his own songs. In October 1974, an apology appeared in
the Southern Star newspaper for the non-appearance of the
Ohio Showband in Skibbereen Town Hall on September 29th and we could
find no further adverts for the band that year.
In September, 1974, Galway was
playing Dublin in the All-Ireland GAA final and there were two
records released supporting the Dubs. In response, Gerry released a
single called Galway Boys Hurrah. In newspaper articles at
the time, the record was reported to have been written by Jimmy
Higgins with backing provided by the Ohio Showband. On October 12th,
1974, a report appeared in the Tuam Herald that "due to the
success of Galway Boys Hurrah, Gerry Cronin has decided to change
the name of his band from the Ohio to the Galwaymen."
We are unsure what happened around
this time as even though the Ohio name was dropped, we also think
the Galwaymen were a smaller outfit (possibly over time) as even
though they initially played the big ballrooms, they eventually were
playing lounge bars. By 1975, Gerry was even advertising himself as
a singer for wedding ceremonies and receptions. As far as we can
tell, the Galwaymen stayed on the road from about 1975-1978.
In 1978, Gerry formed a new band
called the Cronin Family which featured himself and five of
his children aged from 19 down to 12. The band's line-up was: Gerry (vocals), Geraldine (19 - keyboards), David
(18 - guitar), Jacqueline (accordion), Derek (15 - bass) and Paul (12
- drums). The family group were winners at the Musek 78 festival in Tralee
and they released a new single, Don't Know Why I Love You
in July 1979.
On September 6th, 1980, an advert
appeared in the Nenagh Guardian newspaper for the Friary
Castle Ballroom in Nenagh with music being provided by Anna
McGoldrick who would be accompanied by "Ireland's leading family
band, The Cronin 7." We're not sure who was added to the lineup. At
the same time, Geraldine Cronin was a contestant in the Galway Rose
competition and was described as a singer with the "New" Ohio
Showband so we're not sure if this wasn't just a new name for the
Cronin Family band.
In April, 1983 an article in the
Tuam Herald reported that the band had been attacked after playing a
gig in Castlederg, Co. Tyrone by a "gang of thugs." Although the
girl singers in the band, Jackie and Laverne Cronin were unhurt, the
report said guitarist Peter Creighton had to receive medical
attention. We found one more advert for the Ohio Showband playing in
O'Meara's Lounge in Ballincurra, Co. Cork on August 1st, 1983.
This is actually the last report
we have found for the Ohio Showband. Sadly the next reference to the
band occurred in 1988 when on April 3rd, 1988 Gerry died of a heart
attack in Galway, he was in his late 40's.
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