Real McCoy Photo Gallery
band hit the road in July, 1968, following a terrible traffic
accident in which several members of The Greenbeats were
injured and in which band mate Paul Williams lost his life. The
Greenbeats called it quits, but Eddie Campbell (guitar), Dave
Pennyfeather (drums) and Keith Donald (sax) decided to form another
band and set out to find the right musicians to make up The Real
McCoy. Peter Bardon took over management for the new band. Eddie
had previously played with Englebert Humperdinck's backing band.
The rest of the group was rounded out with Liam
McKenna (bass) from Dublin beat group, The Creatures, and who
would later join
The Memories when bassist Daire Doyle was
injured (but he reverted to guitar and stayed with the band upon
Daire's return). They also recruited Keith Donald (sax), Kevin McAlea (younger brother
of Des "Lee") on keyboards and Mike O'Brien, who had been singing on
the Dublin group scene with The Good Tymes to front the band.
The band played their first gig in Dun Mhuire, Wexford, on Thursday,
July 25, 1968.
Heralded as one of the "new breed" of
showbands (they didn't use the word Showband in their name), the six piece band was set and soon established
themselves as one of Ireland's first true "pop" bands. Their first
single, I Get So Excited, was released in late 1968 and
reached number 10 in the Irish Charts, a great introduction for any
band. Following the release of the single, they joined the
October 1968 nationwide theatre tour of The Johnny McEvoy Show with
acts like the Cotton Mill Boys (then a bluegrass outfit), Maxi, Dick
and Twink and the McTaggarts.
However, their second single, Quick Joey
Small was a smash hit, reaching number 1 just before Christmas,
1968 and staying on the charts for 13 weeks. The band were firmly
establish as one of the top "pop" bands in the country and went from
strength to strength.
In late 1968, they added trumpet player, Dave
Coady to the lineup to both fill out the sound and bolster their
vocal sound as Dave had previously handle lead vocals for several
other showbands, including the Donie Collins Band. Their
first release with Dave on lead vocals was
Many The Memories and it was also a hit, entering the charts on
November 20, 1969 and topping out at Number 4.
In early 1971, Billy Brown was forming his new
Superband and tapped Keith Donald on sax who was replaced by John L.
Sullivan who had previously been with the Chessmen. I the summer of
1971, the band headed off to Canada to take on a six week residency
in Toronto's Maple Leaf Ballroom.
In 1972, the band was shaken up when Mike
O'Brien decided to leave and form a new outfit. An article in the
November 18, 1971 issue of Spotlight talked about what happened
next. Billy Brown, who had left the Freshmen to form his "Superband"
was looking for a front man, as everyone in his band was playing an
instrument. Mike had started rehearsing his own new band which was
to be called "Fargo." According to the article, Eddie Creighton and
Gerry Anderson had agreed to join the new band, but there is some
confusion over what happened after that.
As best we can tell, the two bands decided to
merge. Billy disbanded his superband with Johnny Brown, who had been
with Billy, moving to the Real McCoy and Keith Donald, who had left
to join Billy's band, returned to the McCoy.
The new band kept two guitarists - Tiger Taylor
(the only members to stay with Bill) and Eddie Creighton. The result
was the Brown and O'Brien Band which featured Billy brown
(keyboards/sax/vocals), Mike O'Brien (vocals), Tiger Taylor
(guitar), Eddie Creighton (guitar), Gerry Anderson (bass), Paddy
Freeny (drums), and Ray Elliot (keyboards/sax).
To fill the hole left by Mike's departure, the
Real McCoy recruited a young female vocalist who had previously been
with The Mexicans and Jim Farley's Big Band named Tina
Reynolds. Tina's good looks, excellent stage presence and great
vocals gave a new dimension to the previously all male band's sound.
It didn't take long for her to make her mark as her single, I
Don't Know How To Love Him from Jesus Christ Superstar hit the
number one spot in the Irish charts in late 1971. Although the band
would release several more singles in 1972 and 1973 (two would enter
the lower regions of the charts), none would have the impact of
Tina's initial offering. The band also had to fill Dave Coady's
spot, who had gone to join the Big 8. They got Tommy Walsh, who had
previosuly been with Tony and the Graduates.
The band continued to do great business, but it
all came to a crashing halt on a country road outside Portlaoise in
the summer of 1973. The band was involved in a head on collision in which Tina
suffered multiple injuries, the most serious of which was to her
neck. She would remain in hospital for five weeks in intensive care.
Keith Donald was also seriously injured but both would make a full
recovery. In the meantime though, the band called it quits and the
musicians went their separate ways.
After recovering, Tina would be selected to
sing all of Ireland's entry in the 1974 National Song Contest and
around the same time was asked to join the Nevada for the departing
In October, 1973, Mike O'Brien returned from Canada
after leaving Brown and O'Brien (who had gone to Canada) and set
about reforming The Real McCoy
who were off the road. He tapped several members of Paul Lyttle's
Lyttle People, who were left behind when Linda Martin and Paul
left to rejoin Chips. The new members were: Jimmy Compton
(drums), Liam Taggart (guitar), Barry Woods (keyboards), Alan
Holland (bass) and Mike on vocals. The final piece in the puzzle was
Gay Brazel (guitar/pedal steel) who would later join Tweed.
The reformed Real McCoy did a relatively nice
business, but never attained the drawing power of their early days.
In the summer of 1974, Barry Woods was replaced by keyboardist Ray Donnan
and Gay Brazel left to move over to Tweed. Shortly thereafter, Jimmy was replaced on drums by a
mate of Ray's from Belfast.
More to come.......
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