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Starband (1978-1982)

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

The Story

After the horrific tragedy, in which Miami Showband members Fran O'Toole, Tony Geraghty, and Brian McCoy were murdered in a terrorist bombing attempt, the surviving members of the band, Des Lee (McAlea), Stephen Travers, and Ray Millar agreed to pick up the pieces and reformed the band. They returned to the road in late 1975 and enjoyed great success in the aftermath of one of the the worst tragedies in Irish Showband history.

But in June 1978, after less than three years, Des and the lads decided it was time for a change and they made the bold move of leaving the Miami and going in a new direction. They drafted Adrian Mullen, long time keyboard player with Chips and Aongus McNally, a young guitarist who had enjoyed some early success in 1973 with his Celtic rock band, Mushroom. The boys wanted to add a female vocalist to the lineup and eventually signed Dee McMahon who had moved to Waterford in 1972 and had been with a local group, Waves. Dee took the stage name, Julie, and the band was managed by future entertainment mogul, Louis Walsh. They released a single in early 1979, Kiss Me, Kiss Your Baby on the Release label, but the single would be re-released a year later on the WEA label.  

In July, Des Lee, Julie and Starband hit the ballroom circuit with a vengeance. Des wanted to make sure the band had no single "star" with everyone making a major contribution to their live act every night on stage. Because of their connection to the Miami, they garnered a lot of press at the time, and did very well across the country.

After only six months on the road, Dee McMahon, became pregnant and left the band around Christmas, 1979 to have her son. Liz Allen joined the band as the lead female vocalist and stayed with them for two years before Dee returned. The band continued on with Liz also taking the stage name Julie and continued to tour and release records.

In the meantime, after having her son, Dee McMahon returned to her local group, Waves, but was soon approached by Shaun O'Dowd and Dingaling to join their ranks for a short while, but it didn't last very long. By mid 1980, Dee was approached by Adrian and Ray to join a revamped Starband lineup.     

Stephen and Aonghus had left the band to form Crackers, with Pat Waller on drums. But that band was short lived though as Pat soon left and they changed the name to The Crack. Des Lee had also left and gone abroad around this time, we think. The new lineup of the band included Dee, Adrian and Ray, along with new members Jim Hopper on guitar and Tony Unknown on bass. Danny Duskey, a cousin of Sandy Duskey's of the Fairways was brought in as the male lead vocalist.

Dee continued to record and did a record with producer Robery Danova, as well as singing in the finals of the Castlebar Song Contest. Sean Magee and Hugh O'Neill approached Dee to join a new pop/rock band being formed called Vienna (they had originally been known as Las Vegas). She left and Vienna hit the road in, we think, early 1981.       

Back in Dublin, when Dee left, the band split up, but it appears Des Lee reformed the band with Liz Allen back in the lineup and they headed to South Africa where Des had lived until recently. We will try to get more info about this move as soon as possible. After several years of success Liz went on to join a band called Shiraz, but then emigrated to Australia where she still lives today. 

Photo Gallery

click on thumbnails for full image

The Miami-1975 (DL) Des Lee, Julie and Starband-1979 Des Lee, Julie & Starband (BK) Starband (PH) Starband - 1980
A - Des Lee & Starband Des Lee & Starband Julie (Dee) Starband - 1981 Starband (PH)
Starband (RF) Starband (RF) Starband (RF) Starband (RF) Starband (RF)
       
Starband (RF) Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon
         
Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon
Years Vocals Guitar Bass Drums Keyboards Vocals / Sax
1978 Dee
McMahon
Aonghus
McNally
Steven
Travers
Ray
Millar
Adrian
Mullen
Des
McAlea
1979 Liz
Allen
Aonghus
McNally
Steven
Travers
Ray
Millar
Adrian
Mullen
Des
McAlea
1981 Dee
McMahon
Jim
Hopper
Tony
Unknown
Ray
Millar
Adrian
Mullen
Danny
Duskey
1981 Dee
McMahon
Jim
Hopper
Terry
Flood?
Ray
Millar
Adrian
Mullen
Danny
Duskey
1981 Liz
Allen
Pat
Kilty
Shaun
Magee?
Ray
Millar
Adrian
Mullen
Des
McAlea
           
           

Discography (may not be complete)

Singles:

Hold Onto Love
Release Records - 1979
Kiss Me, Kiss Your Baby
Release - 1979 and on WEA in 1980
If You Wanna Make Love
Spider Records - WEB 01 - 1979
Mamacita
Spider Records - Web 10 - 1979
Johnny, Oh Johnny / Baby Come Back
Release Records - 1981

 

Where Are They Now?  

Des Lee (McAlea): Des survived the attack on the Miami showband and in late 1975 he reformed the band along with Ray Millar and Stephen Travers. In 1982, Des put together a new version of Starband which may have been also know as the Des Lee Band. The band emigrated to South Africa where Des lived until recently. In 2008, Des returned to Ireland and currently fronts the reformed Miami which has been touring ever since. In early 2011 he toured with Ronan Collins' showband show across the country. The photo right is from the 2005 Miami 30 Year reunion Concert held in Dublin.  
Aonghus McNally: Angus left the band scene after a short stint with the band Crackers. He left after a short stint to take on a career in television with RTE with the show, "Anything Goes." He has been with RTE ever since but also now has a solo recording career as well.
Steven Travers: Although wounded in the Miami massacre, Stephen survived and in 1978 together with Des Lee and Ray Millar formed Starband with Adrian Mullin of Chips and Aoughus McNally. His time with the new band was short lived though as in 1980, he left to form Crackers which soon became The Crack, a four piece rock/pop outfit. In 1996, Steven met up (again) with Johnny Fean of Horslips in London and they had been playing together until the reformation of the Miami featuring Steven, Des and Ray along with several new members. They are still touring regularly. 
Adrian Mullen: Keyboard player Adrian left Chips in 1978 to join the newly formed Starband with Des Lee. He still plays in and around Dublin with a two man show and performs in the Middle East from time to time.
Ray Millar: After leaving Starband, we are not sure what Ray did. However, we have read online that he now runs a major recycling company in Northern Ireland. When the Miami was reformed in 2009, Ray joined the band back behind the drums and they are still touring regularly.
Dee McMahon: After leaving Starband, Dee went on to join Sean Magee in the band Vienna as well as a short stint with Shaun O'Dowd and Dingaling. In 1983, she left Ireland and retired from the showband scene. Dee wrote to us recently to tell us she is living in the South of England and still very active on the entertainment scene where she sings with a variety of outfits, including an ABBA tribute act, as well as several duos with other entertainers. 
Pat Kilty: More to come. 
Danny Duskey: More to come. 
Liz Allen: Liz left the band when Dee McMahon returned after a two year hiatus. However, she eventually rejoined Des Lee in a new version of the band which emigrated to South Africa around 1982. After several years with Des, she joined the South African band, Shiraz. She eventually emigrated to Sydney Australia where she lives today. 
Shaun Magee: After leaving Chips, Shaun went on to play with Gibney and Donovan, Sheeba, The Joe Cuddy Band and finally Starband and Vienna (with Dee McMahon, formerly Julie of Starband) before emigrating to Canada in 1985. Today, Shaun lives and works in Toronto where he manages a construction company. He is also a good friend to the website and contributes regularly to our content. 

 

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