Silver Pennies / April South Feature
Photo Gallery -
Band Lineups -
- Audio samples -
Where Are They Now?
The first reference we have found
to the band was in July, when Paddy and the Silver Pennies appeared
at the Lough Ramor Farmers Ballroom Big Band Carnival in Virginia,
Co. Cavan. We are pretty confident the Silver Pennies were formed at
the start of 1970 (articles from July, 1972, stated they had been
formed "18 months ago"). The first few adverts we found have them
appearing on the same bill as the Victor Sylvester Orchestra one
night night and with the Dubliners in the Beechmount Ballroom in
Navan a few weeks later and we have discovered through an article in
March, 1971 that they were indeed the relief band in the Beechmount
Ballroom for 15 months before hitting the road. In January, 1971
they were listed as the Silver Pennies Showband.
The original lineup was: Paddy Boy
(vocals), John McKenna (leader and bass), Gerry Curtis (guitar),
Sean Callaghan (drums), Michael McGoldrick (keyboards), Martin
Reilly (trumpet) and Tommy McCormick (trombone).
The first mention of the Silver
Pennies we can find in Spotlight came on June 10, 1972. In
his Dateline London column, Paschal Mooney raved about the
band's tour of London dance dates. The 8 piece outfit was managed by
Eddie Kelly of Kingscourt who spent a lot of money publicising the
band in the summer of 1972. Hardly a week went by between June and
August where he did not run an advert for the band.
By January, 1972, the band had
completed two tours of England and were going strong and had also
added another musician,. sax player, Dermot Sharpe. In April, they
released their first record, I'm Your Little Boy, which
featured Paddy on vocals which was recorded in Dublin's Trend
studios (at the time the only 8 track studio in Dublin) and produced
by Noel Kelehan.
In June, 1972 the band was joined
by April South (a.k.a. Marian Curry from Teemore, Co. Cavan,
although Spotlight identified her as being from Enniskillen). The
same article in Spotlight said she had been the resident singer with
the band in Dublin's Laurel Park Ballroom, but we're not sure if
this is true. However they were now a nine piece, an oddity in the
1970's. Despite adding a female lead vocalist the band was still
being advertised as "Paddy Boy and the Silver Pennies" five and six
months later. This issue would seem to plaque them for several
By 1973, the band was doing very
well all up and down the country, playing the same venues as the
biggest names on the scene. Late in the year they released their
next single which this time featured April singing One Tin Solder
with Paddy on the B side.
In mid-1974 (around June) the band
underwent a major overhaul when several members left and the band
advertised that they now had a new sound. John McKenna left the band
to join the newly formed Magic and the
Swallows in Galway, also gone was the band's brass section as
well as a new drummer. The former nine piece superband was now a six
piece group. TYhe new bass player was Pat Hughes from Navan, along
with a new drummer, Dave Guy.
Once the band was a six piece,
they more or less stayed with tis size line-up for the rest of their
time on the road. In 1978, they went down to a five piece with April
(we think) playing the keyboards. During this period they started
referring to themselves in their adverts as a "boogie band."
In January, 1979, the band dropped
the "Silver Pennies" name and became April and the Pennies "The Big
Boogie Band" featuring "Action Man" (Paddy Boy). In August, 1979,
they lost their bass player and April picked up the instrument.
During 1980, it is apparent from
occasional articles in newspapers that there was tension in the band
between their "country image" with Paddy Boy which helped them when
they toured England with the Irish ballrooms and the edgier rock
vibe which was more apparent with April's songs selections. We say
it was "apparent" as eventually something had to give and in
December, 1981 the band announced Paddy Boy had departed after
leading the band for the past nine years. April South took over as
lone lead vocalist and the band was renamed the Pennies and focused
on a rock/pop sound.
In an article in the Donegal
Democrat in January 1984, April was reported to have said it upset
her that the band was still being advertised as April South and
the Silver Pennies as April explained the Silver Pennies had
"disbanded two years earlier (around 1981), to be replaced by the
Pennies and that for the past year they were known as the April
In September 1986, April
apparently went off the road for four months to six months due to
throat problems. She was replaced by a singer who called herself
Vicki Steele (hard to believe that would be her real name). In July,
1987, an article appeared in the Anglo Celt newspaper asking where
April had gone, it had been a year since she had temporarily retired
and had yet to return. Another article in 1988 asked the same
question and so we have to assume that April did not return to the
band, but we will try to find out more.
More to come...
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