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Riviera Showband Feature (1964-1971)

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

The Story

The Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo based Riviera Showband enjoyed national success on the ballroom circuit from the mid sixties through 1970. Managed by Seamus Cox from Aghamore, the band featured Shea Cribbin (RIP) from Kilkelly as lead singer and recorded a number of singles which gave the band a high profile at the time. The original lineup included Malachy Tiernan (RIP-sax), Shay Cribben (RIP-vocals), Gerry Foley (guitar), Brendan O'Grady (drums), Kevin Maloney (bass), John Conway (keyboards) and Patsy Haugh (trumpet).

Piecing together the band's story has not been easy. It appears they first went on the road in 1964, but we are assuming this was as a part time local band. An advertisement feature in Spotlight magazine of June 19, 1970 said the band had been launched three and a half years earlier, which would have been late 1966 or early 1967, so we are assuming that this was probably the point at which they turned pro. Seamus Cox tells us that the band was ‘christened’ by Thomas Anthony Tighe, who for many years was one of the best known calf dealers in the province, and they settled on the “Riviera” right away. Their first year on the road turned out not to be an easy one.  

In 1967, the band was dealt a setback when all their equipment was lost in a fire in Manchester. Manager Seamus Cox put the value of the loss at around £1,500, a sizable sum in those days. They were not insured and had to use borrowed instruments while they saved their schillings to purchase new gear. In the same year, several of the lads were shocked, literally, because of a short in an electrical circuit of a ballroom in Dublin. The incident required a few of them to spend a night in a Dublin hospital for treatment. It could have been much worse.

In October, they released Love and the Country, written by band members, Malachy Tiernan and Patsy Haugh. This was quite unusual for a showband at the time as most tried to emulate successful covers from international artists (part of the reason showbands suffer a less than stellar reputation by some of today's musicians). Although the band played a wide variety of music on stage, they described themselves as a pop band even though a couple of their singles were country. Said Shea in 1970, "That was a time when country and western music seemed to be at a peak of popularity."

The record received plenty of airplay, but did not make the Irish charts. Seamus Cox later reported the record sold 7,000 copies (very difficult to verify). Like many of their contemporaries, the Riviera never had a chart record and never won any popularity polls. However, it must be said (especially to those who were not around in the era) this did not mean they were not successful. During the summer months, the band was playing 6-7 nights a week and were doing very well for themselves as a middle of the road showband, one of hundreds of bands that travelled the country back then.

Their next single was Give Your Love A Chance released around June, 1968. It was also written by their songwriting team of Tiernan-Haugh, but again failed to make a dent on the charts. Shea also made an appearance at the now legendary Castlebar Song Contest, which back in the late sixties and 70's was the biggest entertainment event west of the Shannon. In September, RTE debuted its new pop music series "Like Now," which was hoisted by Dublin DJ, Danny Hughes, who "was picked from hundreds of applicants for the job." The first show included top showband, The Dixies, along with the Riviera and Limerick group, Granny's Intentions.

In 1969, the band continued to do a solid business and were extremely popular in Mayo and the West of Ireland. They released Baby Won't You Leave Me Alone early in the year. Later in the year, they switched genres, putting out a country song which featured guitarist Gerry Foley called, Just a Girl I Used To Know.   

1970 was the band's last full year on the road. At some point during the year John Conway (keyboards), left and was replaced by Naoise Judge. They moved from Target (Pye) records to the Dolphin label for their next release, Maybe, which was written by Nilsson. Shea said at the time, "personally I think Nilsson is one of the world's finest writers. The melody lines are beautiful and the lyrics are always meaningful."

At the end of 1970, the boys released their final single, Latchyco. Hopes continued to be high for the band's future, but it was not meant to be. Seamus Cox emailed us recently, “The band were on the road for around six years form 1964 to 1971. They always enjoyed big popularity in their home area. We played dates all over the country. The marquees were all the go in the summers of that era. We also toured England several times. The lads always went down well because there were so many young people from the West of Ireland over there at the time.”

The band split up in 1971 with Shea Cribben joining the short lived Real Country band which featured George Kaye (ex-Smokeys). The band was on the road for about two years and when they broke up, we are told Shea left the music industry.

Shea resided in Dublin for many years where he was involved in the insurance and financial services business. He sang occasionally at church services, but sadly passed away Sept. 30, 2005. Patsy Hugh lives in Castlerea and has always maintained his involvement with the music business down through the years. He currently fronts his own band, the Phoenix Showband, and they have a new album due out in the coming month.

Malachy Tiernan played sax with the band and lives near Charlestown where he has been involving in farming for several years. He too has maintained strong links with the music scene down the years. Gerry Foley resides in Barcul, Kilkelly, and is also associated with the farming scene. He retained an association with the music business for several years but is no longer active on this circuit.

Drummer Brendan O’Grady is a farmer in the Charlestown area and is no longer involved in the music. Kevin Maloney, another Charlestown man, lives near Cloonfad and occasionally features on stage. John Conway, formerly of Bridge Street, Ballyhaunis lives in Dublin. He was involved in showbiz promotions, managing the fortunes of the Niagra Showband for a time.

The last word goes to former manager Seamus Cox: “We had some good years with the band and some memorable ones too. There has often been talk of a reunion like the Royal Blues did back in 1983 and again a few years ago. However, for one reason or another, it has not come to pass yet anyway.”

Photo Gallery

click on thumbnails for full image

Riviera Showband (DD) Riviera - 1967 Shea Cribben - 1967 Riviera - 1968 Shea Cribben - 1968

Shea Cribben - 1968

Shea Cribben - 1968

Shea Cribben - 1968

Riviera - 1968 Riviera - 1968 (MT)
 

Riviera - 1968

Riviera - 1970

Shea Cribben - 1970

Riviera - 1970

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Years Vocals Guitar Bass Drums Keyboards Sax Trumpet
1966 Shea
Cribben
Gerry
Foley
Kevin
Maloney
Brendan
O'Grady
John
Conway
Malachy
Tiernan
Patsy
Haugh
1970 Shea
Cribben
Gerry
Foley
Kevin
Maloney
Brendan
O'Grady
Naoise
Judge
Malachy
Tiernan
Patsy
Haugh
               
               

Discography

Love and the Country / The Girl Next Door
Target Records - 7N.17419 - October, 1967
Give Your Love A Chance / What About The Last Time
Target Records - 7N.17598 - June, 1968
Baby Won't You Leave Me Alone / Still In Love With You
Target Records - 7N.17712 - February, 1969
Just A Girl I Used To Know  (Gerry Foley) / Treat Your Man Right
Target Records - 7N.17858 - November, 1969
Maybe / Hey Mr. Guitar Man
Dolphin Records - DOS.62 - January, 1970
Latchyco / Flame In My Heart
Honey Records - COMB.27 - December, 1970

Audio Clips

Coming Soon

Where Are They Now?   (Our thanks to Seamus Cox for this info)

Shea Cribben - RIP: Shea joined the Real Country band featuring George McKay after the end of the Riviera and after a couple of years he left the music business and resided in Dublin for many years where he was involved in the insurance and financial services business. He sang occasionally at church services, but sadly passed away Sept. 30, 2005.   
Gerry Foley: Gerry resides in Barcul, Kilkelly, and is also associated with the farming scene. He retained an association with the music business for several years but is no longer active on this circuit.
Kevin Maloney: Kevin, another Charlestown man, lives near Cloonfad and occasionally features on stage.
Brendan O'Grady: Drummer Brendan is a farmer in the Charlestown area and is no longer involved in music. 
John Conway: John, formerly of Bridge Street, Ballyhaunis lives in Dublin. He was involved in showbiz promotions, managing the fortunes of the Niagra Showband for a time.
Malachy Tiernan: Malachy lives near Charlestown where he has been involving in farming for several years. He too has maintained strong links with the music scene down the years.
Patsy Haugh: Patsy Hugh lives in Castlerea and has always maintained his involvement with the music business down through the years. He currently fronts his own band, the Phoenix Showband.
Naoise Judge: Unknown, if you have any info regarding him, please let us know.

 

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