Behind the Scenes...The Pat Egan
With special thanks to Pat Egan
and an article by Jim Carroll in the Irish Times of January 4, 2014.
the main focus of our website is covering the bands and ballrooms of
the showband era, we also want to pay tribute to some of the people
who worked behind the scenes to promote or report on the era as
well. One such person must be the official historian of the Dublin
Beat (and later Group) Scene, Pat Egan. Pat was there when the era
produced acts like Rory Gallagher, Thin Lizzy, Granny's Intentions
and many more whose names are now but faded memories to the
musicians themselves and a handful of faithful fans.
Pat was was a big music fan
from the time he left school at age 13 and first heard "Save the
Last Dance for Me" by the Drifters. Says Pat today, "I thought it
was amazing, blew my mind. At the same time I was into Cliff Richard
when I heard "Move It" and progressed from there to the Beatles who
along with Roy Orbison and Dusty Springfield, Billy Fury would be my
favourite artists of all time."
As a kid growing up on
Dublin’s Dorset Street, music and the radio were constants and, even
when he was working in a hardware place in Smithfield, he knew he
wanted to do something that involved music.
During the sixties, Pat made it his business to
know every member of every group, every producer and every record
label. "I lived for Friday to buy my copy of the New Musical Express
(NME) and keep myself up to date with the charts and stories of the
day," he recollects.
He wrote to people such as the
broadcaster, Ken Stewart, for advice and appeared on RTÉ’s Pick
of the Pops show a few times (“my nerves nearly killed me”).
Eventually, his love of music lead to him becoming the DJ in the
Five Club in Harcourt Street in Dublin. Pat says of the
experience, "I had stage fright from day one and used to hide away
in the corner of the stage to play my discs."
As his knowledge and
reputation as a man who "knew the scene" continued to grow, John
Coughlan, Editor of New Spotlight magazine gave Pat his first
real job in the entertainment business. Pat was writing the Beat
Group column in the magazine. The column was a huge benefit for the
fledgling Dublin beat scene as it brought the local acts to national
attention. Pat was finally getting to live the dream. "I hung out
with DJ John Hodges, singer Mike O'Brien, and Phil Lynott and I was
good mates with Rory Gallagher, Henry McCullough and Brendan "Brush"
When Pat was 20, he finally got his chance at a major radio DJ gig
with Radio Caroline North. “I was brought out to the ship on a tiny
boat from Greenore in Co Louth in the middle of winter and had to
climb up on to the Mi Amigo. I’d never been away from home
and here I was in a tiny cabin with gales and storms blowing and
there was no way off until your three-week shift ended.” Pat admits
his lack of education and shyness worked against him. "I was a good
club DJ and bitterly disappointed that I could not make it on
with most opportunities in life, the closing of one door lead to the
opening of another for Pat. He realised that although
DJs needed records to play at their gigs it was
“really, really difficult” to get records on the week of release in
Dublin. Delays of up to six weeks were commonplace. “There was just
nobody in the (UK) record companies who was aware of the developing
market here. You might get a Rory Gallagher a week after release,
but that was the exception.”
In 1969, Pat had an idea for
“an underground record shop which didn’t sell Nana Mouskouri or
Elvis." With the help of a £500 loan
from showband management and promotions legend, Oliver Barry, Pat
started his Sound Cellar rock record store in Nassau St. It became
the place to go for thousands of record fans who found it hard to
get the new wave of British rock albums anywhere else.
Says Pat, "along with Oliver, I
went to open six stores (2 in Dublin and 4 in Cork) which I sold off
in the early eighties and started concert promotion. However the
Sound Cellar remains to this day on the corner of Grafton St, still
one of the best specialist record stores anywhere in the World .
Its owned now and has been for the last 30 years by my old best pal
Tommy Tighe The Sound Cellar has survived and has seen the likes of
Golden Discs, Freebird, HMV, and dozens of other record retailers
come and go. It remains one of the iconic establishments on the
Irish Music scene."
Of course there were other
reasons Pat wanted to get away from the clubs. “The disc-jockeying
was great and I enjoyed it, but I was drinking too much scotch and
coke and chasing too much skirt. I’d hang around with a gang of
people like Phil Lynott and we had a good time. Too much of a good
All the while, Pat was writing
his column in Spotlight magazine. In retrospect, he was writing the
history of Irish rock music from the early days of the Beat Groups
through to the "Heavy Sounds" (the final name of his column) of Thin
Lizzy, Rory Gallagher and Horslips. At the time, Pat felt the
pressure of running the stores, "they (Spotlight) wanted me to keep
doing DJ stuff and I wanted to move on with the record stores. They
were paying me £5 a week for the column
but I was losing touch with the group scene. I wanted to get more
into the business end of things because I really was never cut out
to be a personality." He ceased writing for the
magazine in August, 1974.
the record shops came his foray into live-music promotion. His first
show was Steeleye Span with Terry Woods and Tim Hardin in the
National Stadium and it grew from there.
In the late 1970's Pat made the major move of getting heavily into
concert promotion. He recently told us,
"Jim Aiken was the only other concert promoter at that time. Denis
Desmond started in the early 80s. Along with Oliver Barry we broke
new ground with the likes of Queen, Bob Marley, Status Quo. We ran
the first real one day music festivals with Bob Marley and Black
Sabbath (with Denis Desmond). Queen were the first act ever to play
the RDS Simmonscourt. I took a back seat from promoting for a while
in the 90s when I had some bars, night clubs and I started the
entertainment poster business, IPA, which still runs today."
“It was the wild west,” he says
of those early days of promoting concerts in the 1970s. “It was
completely new because no one had done this before. At the start, we
didn’t have a clue because you never got that many people at a gig
remembers a Queen gig in Dublin’s RDS where “there were maybe 7,000
or 8,000 people pushing against the gate and you could see the sand
coming out of the bricks from the pressure”. There was a Status Quo
gig in the Navan Exhibition Centre when “the doors came off the
hinges” from the crush of bodies trying to get in.
Pat promoted Bob Marley at
Dublin’s Dalymount Park in 1980. “We sold 19,000 tickets and there
were about 5,000 counterfeit tickets. It was all paper then so that
happened all the time. There was no Ticketmaster, no clickers, none
of that. You paid the act a fee – I think it was £30,000 for Marley
– and you didn’t even have to have a licence. It was much different
for the promoter.”
Pat now specialises in events
for the over 40's and work in the various theatres. Panto with
Jedward at the Olympia has been a big winner and he also run up to
25 shows a year at the National Concert Hall. "We tour with various
acts and play Cork Opera House. Limerick UCH and all the major
venues. I am agent for Phil Coulter, Red Hurley, Ronan Collins,
Sandy Kelly the Dublin Legends (formerly the Dubliners) with Brian
Hand. We tour shows in the UK and look after the irish interests of
Billy Connolly, the Stylistics, Canadian Tenors. Air Supply and the
like. I also started the National Entertainment guide on TV3 which
gives smaller event and concert promoters the chance to get their
events on TV at very low costs."
Looking back, Pats recounts, "I have lived a charmed life doing a
job I have loved beyond anything. Working with and along side some
of the world’s greatest talent. My favourite acts would be Sir
George Martin, Billy Connolly, Eric Clapton and Air Supply. I have
lived the rock 'n roll dream and come out the other side to tell the
tale. How lucky can you get.
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