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Orange Machine (1967-1970)

Photo Gallery - Band Lineups - Discography - Audio samples - Where Are They Now?

The Story

The first advertisement we can find for the Orange Machine is from April, 1967 when they played as part of a three band session at the New Spotlight Night Out in the Television Club alongside the Freshmen and the Irish Rovers (something for everybody). Almost immediately they were playing all around the city in gigs like the Club Astor (the Astor Ballroom) in Dundrum and the Ardmore Club in the Crystal Ballroom in Dublin. In July, they were one of three featured beat groups (along with the Vampires and Dead Centre) at the Starliner Open Air Jamboree at the John F. Kennedy Stadium in Santry.

It would be August before they seemed to catch the attention of Spotlight's beat group guru, Pat Egan, when he said, "I keep getting good reports about them" in his weekly Beat Scene column. In October, they were featured in the Evening Herald and were on their way to becoming of the the top beat groups in the city. The original line-up was Ernie Durkin (vocals and guitar), Robin Crowley (guitar), Tommy Kinsella (bass) and Jimmy Greeley (drums). Early on the band was managed by Larry Mooney.

Finally in late September, 1967, the band (who were playing regularly) finally impressed Pat enough to feature them in his column, after several brief mentions. After seeing them perform at a gig in the CYMS in Terenure, he said they were "going a bomb and have class." This was the only real publicity the beat groups were able to get. At the time, Pat rated them as the Number 17 group in the country in his top twenty list, which was based solely on Pat's opinion (as we assume feedback he received to his column from fans). A few weeks later, Pat would write, "I don't have anything against the Orange Machine, it's just that I think they are a little overrated."

By the end of the year, Pat was changing his tune and although he still thought they were overrated, he admitted they "are currently rated as one of the top young groups on the scene. In and around Dublin they have a great following. I think they have a lot of talent and in time will take off in a very big way."   

In January, 1968, Pat finally declared, "Now I do think the Orange Machine will become huge in 1968." A few months later, the band took part in a Pop Spectacular in the National Stadium alongside such popular beat groups as Granny's Intentions (who had gone to London) and the fledgling Skid Row, who would soon be one of the top rock bands in the country. At this point the band was being managed by Brian Tuite, who was also managing the fortunes of Granny's Intentions. Around this time (March 30th), Pat also reported the band was expanding to a five piece by adding Paul Duffy on keyboards, although this never happened. By mid 1968, the band was firmly established as one of the top groups on the beat scene and had risen in Pat Egan top twenty group list to number 8.

In June, they released their first record, "Three Jolly Little Dwarfs," with the B side "Real Life Permanent Dream." Even though the Irish charts at the time were dominated by showbands, folk singers and international acts, the record reached number 14 in the Irish charts, giving them a huge boost as far as their popularity and gigs were concerned. They started travelling further afield and were now playing gigs across the country. By late 1968, the band was following what was becoming the "typical" beat group career path which was to try and make it in London. Unfortunately, like most of their peers, they found it a hard slog and met with little success.   

The band released its second single on Pye in January , 1969 and based on the success of their debut disc, goods things were expected for the band. They released "You Can All Join In" with "Dr. Crippen's Waiting Room" on the B side, but despite attracting a lot of attention for the band on the beat group scene it did not sell many copies.

A month later, Pat reported in his column that the band had split. Ernie and Tommy were joining ex-Granny's Intentions drummer, Greg Donaghy in a new band on the scene called Blue. Meanwhile, Robin and Jimmy set about reforming a new version of the Orange Machine. Within a short time (May, 1969), Blue would break up with Ernie Durkin and Greg Donaghy joining a new version of Cahir O'Doherty's Gentry and Tommy joining the line-up of the original Cotton Mill Boys.

It would take a couple of months for the New Orange Machine to finalise their lineup. The band expanded to a five piece with the addition of a lead female vocalist, Karen Byrne (one of the only "girls" on the beat scene at the time), who had previously been with the Soul Foundation. Also joining the band were Billy Boyd, former bass player with the Gentry (which became the Nobility) as well as Joe O'Donnell (guitar) who had been previously been with Granny's Intentions and Sweet Street.  

On June 28th, 1969, Pat wrote in his column that Philip Lynott (who had been with Skid Row) might be considering joining the Orange Machine, but obviously this never happened...such was the scene in the late sixties with rumours swirling around the relatively small beat group scene in Dublin. Instead, Philip formed his own band, Orphanage.  

In August, it was reported that Karen Byrne had been pushed out of the group. Manager Ollie Byrne said, "It was better for all that Karen should leave. The break was in everyone's interest." Karen was quoted as saying, "The group no longer found me musically acceptable, so I was asked to leave. It upset me a lot as I was so enjoying what we were doing. I do hope the group will have every success." With Karen out of the group, it appears they turned away from pop and towards a more "progressive rock" sound, which was a new buzzword on the beat scene around that time.

In September, 1969 it was reported that the band had left for London (yet again) hoping to make their names on the UK scene, but this is the last reference to them we can find. By May 1970, Jimmy Greeley was part of Johnny McEvoy's new country band and so we assume they had broken up.   

More to come.....

Photo Gallery

click on thumbnails for full image

Orange Machine - 1967 Orange Machine - 1967 Orange Machine - 1967 Orange Machine - 1968 Orange Machine - 1968
Orange Machine - 1968 Orange Machine (RF) Orange Machine (RF) Orange Machine (RF) Orange Machine (RF)
Orange Machine (RF) Orange Machine - 1968 Orange Machine - 1968 Orange Machine - 1969 Orange Machine - 1969
         
Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon
Years Vocals Guitar Guitar Bass Drums
April
1967
  Robin
Crowley
Ernie
Durkin
Tommy
Kinsella
Jimmy
Greeley
April
1969
Karen
Byrne
Robin
Crowley
Joe
O'Donnell
Billy
Boyd
Jimmy
Greeley
August
1969
  Robin
Crowley
Joe
O'Donnell
Billy
Boyd
Jimmy
Greeley

Discography

Three Jolly Little Dwarfs / Real Life Permanent Dream - #14 Irish Charts
Pye Records - 7N.17559 - June, 1968.
You Can All Join In / Dr. Crippen's Waiting Room

Pye Records - 7N.17680 - January, 1969.

Audio Clips

       
Three...Dwarfs Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon

Where Are They Now?  

Ernie Durkin: After leaving the Orange Machine, Ernie went on to a long career on the showband scene including stints with the Gentry, Joe Mac and Stage 2. Today he lives in Seattle, Washington. 
Jimmy Greeley: Jimmy would join the line-up of Johnny McEvoy's country band in May, 1970, but had already started his career with RTE having been a host of the Like Now series in 1969. He would eventually leave the showband scene for a career in radio, joining the staff of the new RTE 2 station. Since then, Jimmy has enjoyed a very successful career in radio and television presentations, voiceover work and some acting.  
Robin Crowley:
Tommy Kinsella:
Karen Byrne:
Joe O'Donnell:
Billy Boyd:

 


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In Loving Memory of Grant Gallagher: Sept. 21, 1990 - Nov. 18, 2006