The largest digital showband archive in the world!
Based In Sligo, Ireland / email: showbands@gmsproductions.com

CLICK FOR:     FREE FORUM        HOME PAGE        GUESTBOOK      MAKE A DONATION

Sandie Jones Story (Active: 1968-1981?)

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

The Story

Sandie Jones was one of Ireland's best known female singing stars throughout the 1970's and into the 1980's. She came to the showband scene with one of the long running showbands of the era, The Royal Earls. Never a top name on the circuit, the Earls were a middle of the road showband working steadily throughout the 60's. Like another similar band of the era, The Casino, they would eventually try a gimmick dressing up as African warriors and calling themselves the Zulus.

In telling Sandie's story, there is a little bit of confusion over what age she was when she joined the Royal Earls. Current sources on the Internet say Sandie was born in 1954. This would have made her just 15 when she joined the band in 1969. However, an interview in Spotlight magazine in 1970, reported Sandie had "been singing for three years. I've been at it since I was sixteen." This account would mean Sandie started around 1968 with the band, was sixteen and born in 1951 or 52 (more on this later).

One way or another, she joined with a growing number of females singers who started to populate the showbands in the mid to late sixties. Along with stars like Kelly (of the Nevada), Tina (of the Mexicans) and Eileen Reid (of the Cadets) "girl" singers began to get their share of the spotlight on the ballroom circuit. Although, as an interesting aside, no female ever match the dizzying success of their male counterparts.

She released her first record in mid 1969, Reflections of You which we believe may have been the song sung by Pat Lynch which won the Castlebar song contest in late 1968. She would release a record in each of the next two years including Keep In Touch and I Don't Wanna Play House, neither of which sold many copies, but all three helped establish Sandie as one of the era's top female vocalists.

In January 1972, the showband world was rocked by yet another surprise major split when Joe McCarthy and Brendan O'Brien announced they were leaving the Dixies to form a new band, Stage 2. This left the band trying to fill the void left by two of the showband era's biggest stars. The Dixies played their last date in Killarney on January 9th, 1972 and immediately announced Joe O'Toole as the new lead vocalist. In an article in Spotlight on January 8th, they also announced they would be "adding a girl singer to the lineup."  The following week it was announced 19 year old Sandie had been signed to join the band. (This announcement would seem to support Sandie being born in 1952).

The revamped lineup was introduced to the public in a blaze of publicity. The new singing team's faces were in newspapers and magazines across the country. A few weeks later, it was announced that Sandie had been selected to sing one of the songs in Ireland's National Song Contest which would take place in the Cork Opera House. Sandie would be singing Ceol An Ghra written by Joe Burkett and and Liam MacUistan from Dublin. The song was a runaway winner and also became the first, and only, song sung in Irish to go to Eurovision. A note of some interest, just as Sandie was winning the National Song Contest, her former band, The Royal Earls became the Zulus.

For the next few weeks, Sandie became the number one celebrity in Ireland. She received awards and adulation from all parts of the country including recognition from the people of Cork (see below) for her Song Contest win which took place in their city. Following Dana's Eurovision win in 1970, the contest had become the "launching pad" for international singing careers and a major coup for entertainers on the showband scene. After her win, Dixie press advertisements touted the band as the "prize winning Dixies." Managing the band's fortune at the time was Peter Prendergast. Sandie was on all the TV shows including the Late Late Show with Gay Byrne.

The record was released immediately and hit the Irish Charts, reaching number 1 and giving Sandie the first of two major hit records in her career. Of course, all the publicity was exactly what the Dixies needed after losing their top stars a few months earlier. In the run up to Eurovision, Sandie was featured on the cover of Spotlight and everyone had high hopes for the first Irish Eurosong. Also of interest was some of the biographical info which was released in pre-Eurovision publicity. It said that Sandie was 21, and had started singing with a band called The Statesmen in Dublin when she was 15. She then joined the Monaco Showband and eventually the Royal Earls when she was 17.

The contest was won that year by Luxemburg represented by Greece-born Vicky Leandros and Apres Tio (After You). Sadly for Ireland, Sandie came in a disappointing 15th. As usual, as quickly as the Eurovision publicity had put entrants in the limelight, as soon as another artists won, it stopped and Sandie was once again, a singer in a showband, such is the Irish entertainment industry. Sandie came home from Scotland and resumed her duties with the Dixies.

Within weeks, the Dixies brought out another Eurovision entry, What Do I Do (the Dutch entry) and scored a number one hit in the Irish charts, the second and final top ten hit of Sandie's career. She would score more charts hits later. All the publicity surrounding two number one hits in a matter of months (a rare happening in Ireland) lead to a boom in business for the Dixies for a short while. Throughout the rest of 1972, business was good for Sandie and the Dixies. She was a regular fixture on TV and photo shoots for magazines.  She was also in high demand for personal appearances such as shop openings across the country. 

Joe and Sandie were featured on the cover of Spotlight in July (her third cover) and the band went into the studio to record their next single. In July they also appeared at a concert organised by Release Records to benefit the Irish Olympic team which was held in the National Stadium in Dublin. In August they released Looking For Love which featured Sandie on the "A" side and an original number written by Joe, Sandie, on the "B" side. Unlike their previous two records, it failed to chart and it looked like some of the shine was beginning to fade for the band. At the same time, however, they were still playing 5-6 nights a week. 

In December, 1972, the band released an album, The Hits of the Dixies which included Ceol an Ghra and other songs and a single which featured Joe, Love Is The Answer. Just a few weeks later, they released what would be Sandie's last record with the band, The Happiest Girl.

Although the record failed to chart, things still appeared to be going fairly well for Sandie and the band. She graced yet another cover of Spotlight in February. However, behind the scenes all was not well in the Dixies camp. On February 15th it was reported in Spotlight that Sandie had left the band after failing to appear at a gig in Mayo a few weeks earlier. In fact, a few weeks later, the Dixies ran an advert for their new single, Big City, which featured "Joe O'Toole and the Dixies Nashville Brass" and a "new country sound." Sandie was not pictured with the band.

Six weeks later, on March 22, 1973, Spotlight reported that a reconciliation between Sandie and the Dixies had been brokers by the Irish Federation of Musicians. Things appeared to be back to normal and for several months, they were. A large advert in Spotlight in July promised a "New Single" was on the way.

However around October, 1973, Sandie had left the band and an advert announced the coming of Sandie Jones and the Boyfriends, a new band which would be managed by the Dixies' Steve Lynch. The band's lineup was top class and included Brian Donaghy (ex-Real McCoy), Mick O'Hagan (ex Cromwell and Johnny Logan's brother), Matt Manning (from the Dixies), Davy Flood (from Buckshot), David McHale (from the Gentry), Paul Farrell (from Germany) and Nashville guitarist, Michael Carass.

Sandie and The Boyfriends released their first single immediately called End of the World. Although it didn't make the charts, it helped established Sandie's new role as a singer with a "pop" band (as opposed to a revamped sixties showband like the Dixies). She was now standing on her own and the band did relatively well.

In late 1974, the Boyfriends got something of a boost when ex-Airchords (and brother of Steve Lynch) singer Pat Lynch joined the band after a brief attempt to start a cabaret career in Canada. In an interview in Spotlight, Pat explained, "I'm glad I made this move (back to Ireland) but I don't think I'd be here today had not Steve asked me to join the band." The move helped rejuvenate the band for a time, although several singles resulted in no more chart hits.

As 1974 drew to a close, the band was changing, most likely because of the changing dance scene and the addition of former cabaret artist Pat Lynch to the lineup. Adverts hailed "Cabaret and Dancing Are Fun Again" and the Boyfriends moved away from being a strictly ballroom outfit. This trend would continue over the next few months.

In May, 1975, a small blurb appeared in the Spotlight saying Sandie was quitting the ballroom scene altogether, leaving Steve Lynch's management and moving 100% into cabaret. We are assuming at this point the Boyfriends ceased to exist. Sandie met Tony McIver from Galway, who was described in a 1976 Spotlight report as having "only a passing interest in show business but but a serious interest in Sandie Jones." Tony started booking Sandie into cabaret venues and despite a shaky start, Sandie was soon working steadily in the newly revived cabaret scene up and down the country.

Not to long after that, Tony was not only managing Sandie, but they got married and were now a husband and wife team. In an interview with Julie Boyd in the April 19, 1979 issue of Starlight (the new name for Spotlight) Sandie explained what had been going on in her life. She had been doing cabaret, but missed being "on the road"

Said Sandie, "about six months ago I started to get the bug back for the old road. So Tony (her husband/manager) and I happened on a solution whereby I should go back into the ballrooms at the weekends and keep my cabaret gigs for the midweek." They contacted Louis Walsh who suggested it may not be a workable idea and in the end Tony Byrne contacted them to say he felt they should launch and entirely new band.

They signed Tony James, a 20 year old singer who had been singing cabaret around Dublin and set to work putting together a band. The initial lineup included Dave Kearney (guitar-ex Smokeys), Fergus McElligot (bass-ex. Royal), Des Lacey (drums and Gene Inglesby on guitar as well. The band hit the road in Newmarket, Co. Cork on Easter Sunday, April 15th.   

Signed to Spider records, Sandie released Boogie Woogie Dancing Shoes and had her first chart hit in seven years. Although it only reached number 15 in the charts, it was a hit all the same. With a new record label behind her, the band seemed to thrive in the "new normal" of the late 70's and early eighties. Large showbands with 7 or 8 (or more members) had disappeared in favour of more compact 5 or 6 piece lineups and brass had been replaced by a single keyboard player with a piano and a synth. Later in 1979 Sandie released another single, Shoes On Boots Off, which again made the charts, barely, topping out at number 17.

A couple of years later, in 1981, Sandie's band had a new name, The Jones Gang, and we are not sure whether this was a new outfit, or just a name change. We will continue to research the issue. One way or another we don't think the band stayed on the road very long. If you have any additional info about the band or Sandie's career, please let us know.     

More to come.....

Photo Gallery

click on thumbnails for full image

Sandie Jones - 1970 Royal Earls - 1970 Sandie joins Dixies Dixies - 1972 Song Contest - 1972
Song Contest - 1972 Song Contest - 1972 Song Contest - 1972 (RF) Song Contest - 1972 Song Contest - 1972
Dixies Advert Dixies - 1972 Dixies - 1972 Dixies - 1972 Dixies Advert
Sandie Jones - 1972 Sandie Jones - 1972 Dixies - 1972 Dixies - 1972 Dixies - 1972
Dixies - 1972 Dixies - 1972 Dixies - 1972 Dixies - 1972 Dixies (RF)
Dixies - 1972 Dixies - 1972 Dixies - 1972 Dixies - 1972 Dixies - 1972
Sandie Jones - 1972 Sandie Jones - 1972 Sandie & Joe - 1972 (LR) Sandie & Joe - 1972 Dixies - 1972
Dixies - 1972 Sandie & Joe - 1972 (LR) Dixies - 1972 Dixies - 1972 Dixies - 1972
Dixies - 1972 Dixies (RF) Dixies (RF) Dixies - 1973 Dixies - 1973
Dixies (RF) Dixies (RF) Dixies (RF) Dixies (RF) Dixies - 1973
Dixies - 1973 Dixies (RF) Dixies (RF) Dixies - 1973 Sandie Jones - 1973
Dixies - 1973 Sandie Jones - 1973 Sandie Jones - 1973 Sandie Jones - 1973 Sandie Jones - 1974 (LR)
Sandie Jones - 1974 Sandie Jones - 1974 Sandie Jones - 1974 Sandie Jones - 1974 Boyfriends - 1974
Sandie Jones - 1974 Sandie Jones - 1974 Boyfriends - 1974 Boyfriends - 1974 Boyfriends - 1974
Sandie Jones - 1975 Sandie Jones - 1975 Sandie Jones - 1979 Sandie & Tony James 1979 Jones Gang (PH)
       
Sandie Jones Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon

Discography

Royal Earls
Reflections of You
Release Records - RL.514 - July, 1969
Keep In Touch / Voice In The Crowd
Release Records - RL.535 - June, 1970
I Don't Want To Play House
Release Records - RL.574 - 1971
Dixies
Ceol An Ghra / Cry Cry Again (Sandie Jones) - #1 Irish Charts
Play Records - PLAY 20 - February, 1972
What Do I Do / It Was Only A Heart (Sandie Jones & Joe O'Toole) - #1 Irish Charts
Play Records - PLAY 21 - March, 1972
Looking For Love (Sandie Jones) / Sandie (Joe O'Toole)
Play Records - PLAY 31 - August, 1972
The Happiest Girl / I Don't Want To Play House (Sandie Jones)
Play Records - PLAY 47- November, 1972
Boyfriends
End of the World / It's A Crying Shame
Release Records - RL.704 - November, 1973
Bim Ban Boom / Single Girl
EMI Records - EMI.5001 - July, 1974
The Good Old Days (Album)
EMI Records - IEMC.6006 - 1976
Sandie Jones Band

Boogie Woogie Dancing Shoes / Instrumental
- #15 Irish Charts
Spider Records - WEB.006 - March, 1979
Shoes On Boots Off / Instrumental
Spider Records - WEB.017 - December, 1979
- #17 Irish Charts
Sandie and the Jones Gang
I Don't Want To Marry Superman / Take The Money and Run
Spider Records - WEB.041 - 1981

Audio Clips

         
Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon

Coming Soon

Where Are They Now?  

Band Member:

 


2002-2015 GMS Productions

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