Bands: Tophatters • Mexicans • Real McCoy
• Nevada • Solo cabaret
Tina Reynolds is one of the best known female vocalists to come
out of Ireland.
Her real name was Philomena Quinn and she was born with Tuberculosis in Greystones, County Wicklow.
Separated from her family at birth, Tina left the hospital when she was four
years old and because her mother was too ill to care for her, she was sent to an
orphanage with her sister.
Finally when Tina was nine, her mother was well
enough to care for her and she went home to Greystones.
Along with her family, she went to England in 1963 for her sister's
wedding. Again, her
mother became ill and shortly after passed away and the young teenager decided to stay
with her sister and got work as a telephonist. Having grown up
singing, she got her real start in the business when, at the age of
sixteen, she won a talent contest at Butlins, Skegness. When her win was
reported in the Wicklow People back home, Tom Cranny, manager of The Mexicans, sent
her a telegram, asking if she was interested in joining a showband.
She didn't hesitate and quit her job to return
to Ireland. She immediately adopted the stage name, Tina,
and started her career with The Mexicans Showband.
Tina's life would change when drummer Desi Reynolds joined the
Mexicans. They fell in love, but Tom Cranny suggested they wait
before getting married. Tina was 17 and Desi only 15. After four years traveling with the Mexicans
Tina learn everything she could about the business. After the tragic death of Tom Cranny in 1968, the Mexicans
broke up and Tina and Desi joined Jim Farley's big band, The Tophatters,
the resident band in the Top Hat Ballroom. In an era when most of the lead singers were men, Tina was one of the few women to shine.
1969, Tina joined The Real McCoy, one of the first "pop" bands to break through on the Irish ballroom circuit. Their up tempo, danceable pop music, combined with Tina's excellent voice and good looks, made the band a favorite with punters.
Tina had her first hit record in 1971 when they recorded, "I
Don't Know How To Love Him" from Jesus Christ Superstar. The
record hit number one in the Irish charts and helped make Tina a
household name. The band followed up with two more charts singles in
1972 and 1973 (see below).
In 1972, Tina had her first shot at the National
Song Contest singing, Don't Need Your Sympathy, but tied for
third behind Sandie Jones who sang the Irish language number,
In June, 1973, Tina's career was set back when she was
seriously injured in
a road accident on the outskirts of Portlaoise on the way home from a gig, along with several other members
of the Real McCoy. Her injuries were so severe, it
took almost a year for her to fully recover and she did not return to the Real
In October, 1973, it was reported in Spotlight
that Tina had fully recovered from her injuries and was on holidays
in Spain before she would return to cabaret, as well as being
selected to sing all of Ireland's
1974 National Song Contest entries for Eurovision. The winner was "Cross Your Heart," written by Chips front man, Paul Lyttle. Unfortunately, this was the same year ABBA was to break all Eurovision records with their world wide hit, "Waterloo."
Sadly, Tina's marriage to Desi broke up just a
month after Eurovision and the couple split. However, the international
exposure proved Tina could hold her own with any female vocalist and shortly after returning from Luxembourg, she was asked to join top pop showband,
The Nevada in late 1974, replacing Kelly, who split from the band
around the same time Red Hurley went his own way as well. As an aside, Red would represent Ireland at Eurovision two years later in 1976 with
the song, "When."
The Nevada and replacing Red Hurley was Glen Curtin, popular vocalist from Cork with
The New Blues. Together, Tina and Glen more than matched the star quality of their predecessors, and The Nevada continued to enjoy success from one end of the country to the other.
In 1976, Tina released I'll Do It All Again which spent eighteen
weeks in the Irish charts peaking at number three.
In February, 1976, fate dealt another severe blow to Tina when she
was injured in yet another accident, this time returning from a gig in the
Seapoint Ballroom in Salthill, Galway
with the Nevada. It took Tina many months to recuperate from her injuries and
when she finally healed, she returned to the Nevada. During this time she shared
the spotlight with two more male singers, Ronnie Medford and Roy Taylor.
Finally, in 1978, Tina announced her "retirement" from the showband
scene. No longer wanting to be away from home, not to mention the hassles of
traveling up and down the country, Tina switched her focus to a career on the
Dublin cabaret scene and family life. In leaving the band scene, an interesting
side note is that her replacement in the Nevada was mistakenly reported in
Spotlight to be Kim Newport.
In 1979, Tina was once again a part of the
Eurovision contest when she sang Hiding Behind Our Smile with
Red Hurley in the National Song Contest, but they came in last and
it was Tina's final foray into the contest. Although retired from
the showband scene, Tina continued to sing in cabaret and various
functions for several years, but retired after a relatively short
time. However, over the fourteen year period she spent on the
showband scene, Tina was one of the country's first and best loved
female stars. At the same time, her career also highlighted some of the
dangers associated with life in an Irish showband.
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