We decided on the name "The Phantoms" for our first" beat group"
back in 1962-3. The Merseybeat thing was becoming all the rage
in England so we did all the top twenty tunes, Stones, Beatles,
Searchers, Pretty Things, Them etc. The group consisted of Colm
Maher/gtr/vocals, Patrick Hoye/bass/vocals, Frank "Monty"
Montgomery/rhythm/vocals and Aidan "kyd" Graham/drums.
Things were not going well at all at St. Mary's secondary school
for all four of us when it was found out that we had a "beat
group". The headmaster was a guy by the name of Brother McGrath
who hated anything British and called the music "Ceol Gallda"
which meant British or "foreign" music. He and his cohorts made
life hell for us and when Danny Murray offered me a job as bass
player for The Jivenaires out of Boyle in April 1965 I saw it as
Jives were Danny Murray /sax/vocals, Ricky
McCaffrey/trumpet/vocals, Liam Conroy /drums, Sean
Kenny/guitar/vocals, Evelyn O'Meara/vocals, Pat
Feely/vocals, and myself on bass/ vocals. Later replacements
were Frank Montgomery on guitar and vocals and Garry Street on
vocals. l took the place of Christy Reagan who was
about 5'4" and I'm 6'3", I also inherited his band uniform.
Well...adjustments had to be made so we adjourned to the local
tailors where we found a little journeyman tailor sitting
cross-legged on a table and asked him to extend the length of
the offending garment. He added a 6" piece of red velvet to the
bottom of the pants (they were red also, which helped). I played
my first gig with the band at the prestigious Metropole Ballroom
just off O'Connell St. in Dublin and I was mortified .The
"hippie" thing was in but this looked stupid.
On our breakup gig with the Jivenaires/Mystics we were at The
Skyline ballroom just outside Galway, Jimmy Reilly and the 'Swingtime
Aces' came to see us and offered me the bass chair. I accepted
on the spot, salvation revisited. Athenry was to be my home for
the next two years. The Swingtimes consisted of Jimmy on
drums, Norman Payne /vocals, Bob Madden on gtr/voc, Joe
Bernie/sax, Derek Kennedy/voc/gtr, Mick Guinnane/trumpet, and
now me on bass. Our manager was Kevin Whelan (R.I.P.) and he got
us our first gig in the U.S. A. On our trip I wore my favorite
army surplus store acquisition, a light beige jacket with brass
like The Who and The Move wore this kind of regalia adorned with
German/Nazi medals etc. Anyway...walking off Broadway one day I
saw a swastika in a pawnshop and purchased it. When I got back
to the Woodward Hotel I sewed it onto my jacket. That night
coming back from the gig at the City Center Ballroom we all
decided to go to the local deli for a midnight "nosh". We sat in
a few booths and waited...and waited. After about twenty minutes
or so the manager of the City Center who was with us called one
of the waiters to enquire as to why we were not being served.
Then the proverbial penny dropped ,we were told that this was a
Jewish deli (duh) and that we wouldn't be served until I left or
removed the offensive item. I removed it and apologized. There
was a second world war where six million Jews were killed, but I
was only 19...who knew!
"DRIFTERS DISBAND" read the headlines in the Evening Press on a
Saturday evening as I was coming back to my room at the Western
Hotel in Athenry. The waitress handed me a note with a phone
number to call Mullingar immediately...salvation re-revisited. I
called and spoke to Ben Dolan who asked me if I'd heard the news
about the breakup and would I be interested in the gig, I said
yes. My new companions were to be Seamus Shannon/tmb/accordion,
Ciaran O'Donnell/kbds, Maurice Walsh/drms/voc, Gordon Coleman/gtr/voc, Joe
Dolan/voc, Frankie McDonald /tpt/voc , and Ben Dolan /sax/voc.
Our manager Seamus Casey was to remain. The first years were
amazing, crowds of two to three thousand a night seven nights a
week, ballroom managers shaking hands, alcohol, food, queue's,
top class hotels etc. Maurice Walsh was a bonus and a pure joy
to work with, he was responsible for a good percentage of the
crowds turning up in the cities.
On one occasion while returning from a gig we went into the
Treaty Stone an all night cafe in Limerick city. We were
starving and were each looking forward to a big juicy steak. As
Maurice Walsh and I sat waiting to be served I started to wipe
between the tines of my fork with a napkin as it appeared to be
greasy. Maurice soon joined me in doing likewise. Unfortunately,
the lady behind the counter observed us and took umbrage with
our cleaning efforts. She ordered us out and told us that we
would not be welcome back anytime soon. She then proceeded to
scold us about the" loose women" that we hung around within the
Jetland Ballroom, the cheek of us. Needless to say we left a lot
hungrier than when we arrived.
I left the band in June, 1973 to attend
The Berklee College of Music, graduated in 1977 as Woody Herman
handed me my sheepskin.
Returning to Ireland in late ''77 I hooked up with Peter Law and
we played a few gig's around Dublin with Terry on kbds, Eddie
Campbell on gtr and I think the drummer from Peggy's Leg. Just
before Christmas 1977 the doorbell rang and Ben Dolan was there
asking if I would be interested in doing an eight week stint in
South Africa, the money was good, I accepted. Ben Dolan was
still on sax/vocals, Frankie was on tpt/voc, Jim Mullally was on
keyboards, Tony Newman on drums, Raymond Dolan on percussion, Gerry Kelly on
gtr/voc, Liam Meade on trombone, and Joe Dolan on vocals. Salvation
re-re-visited. I went for eight weeks and stayed for eight
played Las Vegas, Israel, Germany, Russia, South Africa, etc.,
etc. At this point I'd like to mention that I have never worked
with a better or harder working musician than Joe Dolan he gave
110% every night that I played with him over a split period of
13 years. In 1985 I decided to move back to Boston because my
family wanted to live there...and I did. I started a two piece
band called "Brogue " which still exists today.
I don't play much bass anymore it's all guitar so as that I can
do singles. I am currently considering a move to Mexico. I would
like to take this opportunity to thank each and every musician
that I have ever played with over the past 40 years as I learned
from EVERYBODY. Salvation re-re-re-visited?