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All the news from 2007 on the site and the scene.....

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Click here for our news archives including articles from Irish papers

December 26, 2007...Joe Dolan, Showband Legend, sadly passes away.

(From the Irish Times)

Irish showband singer Joe Dolan has died today after falling ill on Christmas Day. The 68-year-old sold millions of records and had a string of hits around the world in a career which spanned four decades. The singer's management team said he had been with his family in Dublin yesterday when he was rushed to the Mater Private Hospital where he died surrounded by friends and family just after 3pm.

Dolan had suffered an illness in the autumn and was forced to cancel tours on the advice of doctors due to exhaustion. Dolan had been in the middle of a tour - due to include a sold out return to Vicar Street in Dublin - when he became ill in October.

Dolan's first job was as a compositor with his local newspaper, the Westmeath Examiner before he and his brother Joe joined the The Drifters to embark on a successful musical career. After a number of hit singles in Ireland, Dolan became an international star with his song Make Me An Island which reached number 3 in the UK charts 1969 and went on to become a number 1 hit in 14 other countries.

Dolan is survived by his brothers, Ben, Paddy and Vincent and sisters, Dympna and Imelda. (Our condolences go out to his family and many friends in the industry.) Click here for special tribute to Joe and his career.

December 10, 2007...Barry Scully passes away

(First reported to us by Des Hickey)

Once more I'm the bearer of sad tidings. Barry Scully passed away on Monday last Dec.10th Barry was the bass player and musical director with Bee Bop Gold, a very popular band working around Dublin. He performed as usual at their regular Sunday night spot at the Submarine in Walkinstown. On Monday morning he felt unwell and returned to bed. A short time later he suffered a stroke and an ambulance was called. He had a heart attack on the way to hospital and sadly could not be revived. He was 64.
Barry played with many bands including Gene and the Gents, Roly Daniels and with Jim Farley. He played with Dickie Rock for many years and continued to "dep" with Dickie whenever the usual bass player was unavailable. I was working with him only last week.
He was witty, intelligent and most helpful whenever I had any musical problems. (and I had many!). His stories and anecdotes kept me entertained for hours. If he had written a book about his life, it would have been a smash. It would have left the current crop in the shade. He will be greatly missed by his many friends, but especially missed by his widow, Noreen, whom he also considered to be his best friend. May he rest in Peace.

(Editor's note: It was with great sadness that we learned of Barry's passing, he had been an active member of the site for the past few years. Below is his complete listing of bands from his own entry:)

Bands: Ray Richards Showband. 1960. Emile Ford and the Checkmates 1960/62. Bandleader Resident Band The Regent Rooms London 62/63. The Beat Brothers (Hamburg) 63/65. Gene and the Gents 65/69 The Green County 71/72. Spice (resident Donaghmeade Inn Dublin) + studio work; (The Dubliners, Dickie Rock etc.).72/78 returned to music studys (orchestration/composition)79/82..... 83 to present day Dickie Rock Band. I also play with The Bee Bop Gold Rock 'n' Roll Show with occasional stints with the National Concert Orchestra and the pit bands of the Gaiety and Olympia theatres. Still at it, Still lovin' it..... btw My son Jeff plays drums with the Rob Strong band.

December 7, 2007...Bandleader Michael O'Callaghan Passes Away

(First reported to us by member Liam O'Reilly)

Buttevant, Co. Cork's Michael O'Callaghan passed away on December 7th at Mallow General Hospital. Michael was the former bandleader with one of Cork's most famous showbands. Although the Michael O'Callaghan band never achieved the fame opr notoriety of some of their peer like the Dixies, they were none the less one of the top bands in Munster during the showband era. 

Our sincere sympathies go out to Michael's friends and family. 



November 29, 2007...Dana to Revive Fran O'Toole Hit

(By Eddie McIlwaine From the Belfast Telegraph newspaper)

A song written by one of the murdered members of the Miami Showband is set to be revived when it is performed by Eurovision winner Dana. Love Is, written by Fran O'Toole, will be heard once more when Taoiseach Bertie Ahern unveils a memorial next month to him and his two fellow musicians who lost their lives in the outrage. Fran wrote the song just two months before he died in the UVF massacre 32 years ago.

The ballad, which swept into the Irish charts when it was re leased soon after the killing in July 1975, will echo out at the Parnell Square ceremony on December 10. The romantic song, written and recorded by O'Toole, who was 29 when he died, was released posthumously as an immediate tribute to Fran and the band. This last number, written by the young man, who was an Irish idol, will be performed by Dana who will also be singing a hymn at the poignant unveiling.

Trumpet players Tony Geraghty and Brian McCoy were also shot dead by UVF gunmen in Army uniforms, who waved the Miami showbus down on the way home from a dance at Banbridge where they had been playing that night of July 31, 1975. Stephen Travers, who was seriously injured, and Des Lee survived the attack and will be at the unveiling along with drummer Ray Millar of Antrim, who had travelled home by car from Banbridge after the dance.

Two of the murder gang were killed at the scene when a bomb they were attempting to load onto the Miami wagon exploded prematurely.

Personalities from the showband era in Ireland, including Dickie Rock, who once sang with the Miami, Red Hurley and Tony Kenny will be in Parnell Square for the unveiling. Bass player Travers has written a book about the killings called The Miami Showband Massacre: A Survivor's Search for the Truth. Dana will be signing copies of her autobiography All Kinds of Everything in Easons of Donegal Place, Belfast, on Saturday afternoon at 3.30pm

November 29, 2007...Dickie to Rock the Burnavon

(From the Ulster Herald newspaper)

After many requests by Tyrone fans for legendry Irish showman, Dickie Rock, to play Cookstown, the Miami Showband lead singer will make his première performance at the Burnavon Arts and Cultural Centre on Wednesday, December 12, just in time to 'rock' around the Christmas tree. Dickie was one of the biggest stars of the Irish Showband era with a colossal 25 top ten hits with songs such as From the Candy Store On The Corner, There's Always Me and For Oldtimes' Sake. Following the recent successful RTE documentary about Dickie and his place at the forefront of the legendary Irish showband scene, his loyal fans throughout the country have been clamouring for a chance to relive those glory days with sell out shows in Dublin and Cork. Manager Tony McCance said, "We are delighted that he has chosen the Burnavon to relive his classic showband hits from the 60s and 70s. He will also 'rock' the Burnavon with versions of contemporary Irish hits."

November 15, 2007...The Freshmen Unzipped

(From the Ulster Herald newspaper)

Former sixties showband idol Derek Dean is the latest singer to have his autobiography, The Freshmen Unzipped, published by Merlin Publishing. Strabane-born Derek McMenamin was a former teaching student before joining the Ballymena based Freshmen Showband back in 1963. Sharing the vocal spotlight with the late Billy Brown he changed his name to Derek Dean and clocked up hits with titles such as Papa-Oo-Mow-Mow, Go Granny Go, La Yenka, etc. The author reveals the darker side of the showband era, money, parties, alcohol drug abuse and self-destruction.

November 5, 2007...Big Tom to hit The Road Again

(From the Irish Independent newspaper)

Old style crooner Big Tom (McBride) is about to hit the road with a nostalgic "oldies" tour in the New Year. The showband star, who nearly died from a heart attack last year, has re-grouped his Mainliners band for the tour. The original band members are now taking a break from current roles in life to re-join Big Tom on the circuit. A band insider said yesterday: "It was inevitable this would happen ... even before Big Tom had fully recovered, he indicated it was his wish to get back on the road soon."

October 29, 2007...Death of Don Long

Manchester, From Monday, 29 October, 2007 from Joe Silmon.

Today, 29th October 2007, at 6 a.m., our old friend and colleague Daniel "Don" Long, ex-trombonist with the Capitol Showband and a popular Jazz trombonist and vocalist on the Manchester Jazz scene since the late 1960s, died peacefully in his sleep, at St. Ann’s Hospice, near Cheadle, Cheshire. He had been suffering from Cancer of the sinus for approximately a year, following a quintuple heart bypass three years ago. He spoke often about his wonderful times with the Capitol Showband and of many of his Irish friends in Dublin, Cork, etc., and the great festivals in his homeland, which I believe he left in approximately 1969, for England, shortly after the Capitol Showband disbanded temporarily. Don was 69 years of age last June.

After initial lessons as a young lad of about sixteen, and practising with friends, Don eventually joined the Capitol Showband in 1961, replacing Pat Loughman (trombone). Between 1961 and 1968-69, while in the Capitol Showband, Don played alongside Butch Moore (vocals), Jimmy Hogan (guitar), Des Kelly (bass), Johnny Kelly (drums), Eamonn Monahan (keyboards), Paddy Cole (sax/clarinet) and Paul Sweeney (trumpet), Paul being replaced by Bramwell (“Bram”) McCarthy in 1963. Don then joined Bob Wallis and his Storyville Jazzmen, etc., in London, in approximately 1969. He has since played in Ireland, England and Scandinavian countries with the Clusky-Hopkins Original Guinness Jazz Band, frequently remembering Barry, Des, Billy, Bob, Mike (“Magic”), Peter, Paddy (Cole), Brian, Danny, Andy, Doug and several others too numerous to mention. He was very popular at every Cork Festival that he graced by his presence. Don “depped” in other bands too.

In 1969 Don settled in Manchester with his wife Mary; their daughters Claire and Jane were born here. Between 1969 and 70, he played at the Carousel (Plymouth Grove – the old Astoria Ballroom). From Manchester, he did many tours all over the world, including Canada and the USA, and especially worked for long periods at the Casa Bar, Zurich. He was sometimes with the Piccadilly Six (ex-Back O’Town Syncopators’ personnel) in other parts of Switzerland. Between the 70s and 90s Don was based at Ganders go South, off Deansgate, Manchester, leading his own band.
After approximately three years at Chorlton Conservative Club, Manchester, with his own 59th Street Bridge Band and Alan Yates's Dixieland Hotshots between the Millennium and about 2003-4, he played and sang with The Jazz Gentlemen and guested frequently with Keith Allcock's band at the "Jazz Rendezvous" at both the Haresfinch Social Club in St. Helens, Lancs., and the Club's earlier venue in the same area, during which time he also played at “Beaky’s” (Beaconsfield Conservative Club) Ashton-under-Lyne, in Norman Pennington’s band. One of his last regular jobs was with Mart Rodger’s Manchester Jazz, which got him touring again. The last two years of his life put him out of circulation, but he was a fighter to the end, itching to practise on his trombone. If he died under the illusion that he was playing, he could not have had a better passing.

May I extend my deepest condolences to his family here in Manchester, to his relatives and friends in Ireland - where Don has left a son and a daughter from his first marriage - and to all of his friends elsewhere.
Yours sincerely, Joe Silmon (ex-colleague and friend of Don’s and friend of the family here in Manchester).

The funeral will take place, starting at St. Joseph’s R.C. Church, Plymouth Grove, Longsight, Manchester M13 0LY at 11:30 a.m. on Friday 2nd November, followed by cremation at Manchester Crematorium, Southern Cemetery, Barlow Moor Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, M21 7GL. A reception will be held afterwards at the Metropolitan Hotel, Lapwing Lane, West Didsbury, M20 2WS, from 1:45 pm onward. Family flowers only. However, anyone wishing to do so may make a donation to St. Ann's Hospice, St. Ann's Road North, Heald Green, Cheadle, Cheshire, SK8 3SZ.

October 23, 2007...Death of Bernard "Bernie"Fallon

It is with sincere regret that we learned of the death of Bernie Fallon, original member and former drummer with The Smokey Mountain Ramblers and The Rocky Tops in his native Sligo today. He was 61. Bernie started his career playing with the St. Mary's Ceili Bandshow before joining Pat Ely's band in the mid 1960's, along with long time band mate Tommy Higgins. After leaving the showband scene in the early 70's Bernie played the Sligo pub scene for many years before retiring from playing several years ago. We extend our deepest sympathies to Bernie's family and friends. His funeral will take place Thursday, October 25th at 11:00 a.m. in St. Anne's Church with burial immediately after in the Sligo cemetery. May he Rest in Peace.  

October 21, 2007...Death of Mick O'Grady

From Tom Foley...It is with sincere regret that we learned from Tom that Mick O'Grady, former bass player with the Vampires passed away yesterday, October 20, 2007. Our sincere condolences go out to Mick's family and friends. We will publish more details here when we learn more.  

October 11, 2007....Death of Robbie Walsh

From Des Hickey...Singer Robbie Walsh passed away on Saturday October 6th at Tallaght Hospital following a heart attack. He was 60. Robbie was a popular figure on the Dublin "beat group" scene in the Sixties and Seventies. I worked with him in The Magazine, until he left to form Adolph J. Rag and later Honey Suite with Noel Cullen (bass), Danny O'Keefe (now a freelance drummer) and guitarist Tony Geraghty who was murdered by loyalist terrorists during the Miami ambush. Robbie was a talented singer in the style of Joe Cocker and was both imaginative and innovative as a performer. He would often suspend a rope in front of the stage from which he would swing out over the audience. Of course the rope snapped one night, and Robbie left the gig in an ambulance! I'm sure that all who knew him would wish to remember Robbie in their thoughts and prayers, and would want to extend their deepest sympathies to his widow Mary, his children Nina, Lisa and John, and his grandchildren Craig and Ross. May he Rest in Peace.

Editor's Note: We at extend our deepest sympathies to Robbie's wife, family and friends..

October 8, 2007...New Images online

Our thanks to Kathleen Smith for adding new images to her Collection. See them here:  

October 4, 2007...More New Images online

Our thanks to several members who have contributed photos lately-Liam O'Reilly, Tom Greeley, and Des Hickey. See them here:  /   

September 10, 2007...Steven Travers Launches Miami Book

In the early hours of 31st July 1975, The Miami Showband was stopped at a military checkpoint. As they were held at gunpoint outside their VW minibus, a bomb that – unknown to the band members – was being loaded on to their bus exploded prematurely destroying the bus and catapulting the band members into a nearby field.  As Stephen Travers lay seriously wounded in the field he listened to the cries of his friends as they were mercilessly gunned down and the steps of the gunmen getting closer… Here is his story.

What is it like to survive such an atrocity? To live when those around you die? Now, Stephen Travers remembers the highs and lows of being in one of the most successful showbands of the 1970s and how it all ended in a terrifying moment. In a moving and honest quest for truth and reconciliation, he tries to come to terms with what happened. Stephen wants to understand but will he find the answers when he meets the men responsible for the massacre face to face?

August 21, 2007....Johnny Lynam passes away.

Sadly. we report that Johnny Lynam, brother of singer Ray Lynam and bass player with the Hillbillies passed away in Moate, Co. Westmeath on 21st August after a long illness. Johnny continued to be involved with brother Ray, acting as road manager for Ray's band during the late 80's and early 90's after giving up playing on a regular basis. Our sincerest condolences go out to Johnny's family and friends and Ray on their loss.  


August 1, 2007...Tommy Makem Passes Away

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Irish folk singer Tommy Makem, born in Keady, Co. Armagh and dubbed by some critics as the godfather of Irish music, has died from lung cancer in the United States. He was 74. "He died in Dover, in New Hampshire, to where he immigrated first in 1955 when he went to America," his nephew Peter Makem told Ireland's RTE radio on the Internet on Thursday. Makem rose to fame in the 1960s with the Clancy Brothers, then pursued a successful solo career that took him to Australia, the United States, Britain, and Canada.

In the late 1960s, Makem penned "Four Green Fields," a mother's melancholy lament about her "sons," representing the four historic provinces of Ireland. The ballad became one of his signature songs. Decades later, Makem produced a number of music specials for U.S. public television that featured folk legends like Judy Collins and Pete Seeger, according to his Web site ( Clancy of the Clancy Brothers told RTE radio that Makem had inoperable lung cancer and died late on Wednesday. Irish President Mary McAleese described Makem as a consummate musician and superb ambassador for his country."In life, Tommy brought happiness and joy to hundreds of thousands of fans the world over," she said in a statement on her Web site.

August 1, 2007.....New Features

Thanks to contributions from Larry Flood and Teddie Palmer we have started work on features on two bands, The Rascals and The New Blues. As with all our features, we usually start with a collection of photos and then build the story of the band, an extended photo gallery, a table of all the band's lineups over the years, a complete discography, a selection of audio clips, and finally "where are they now" for as many members of the band as we can track down. For a complete listing of all the features we currently have, click here.

July 27, 2007....New Photos

Many new photos have been added to the site over the last week including several of Showband legend, Mick Delahunty which were kindly provided by Bill Bourke. They include a photo of the Mick's Orchestra from 1946. They can be found here: showbandphotosD.htm



June 28, 2007.....Singer in tune for charity (from The Comet)

THE lead singer of a former Irish top 20 band is hoping to raise £1,000 for a cancer charity. Dushie Chetty, now a management trainee consultant at the Goldsmith Management Centre on Broadway in Letchworth GC, was the lead singer of Gene and the Gents during the 1960s and 70s.

Dushie, 63, is currently selling copies of his CD, The End of the World, to raise money for Cancer Research UK. The CD costs £3 and every penny is donated to the charity. To date, Dushie has raised £700, but he is hoping to hit his target of £1,000.

The CD is available at the Goldsmith Management Centre in Letchworth GC and North Hertfordshire College in both Stevenage and Hitchin.

June 19, 2007....Liz Allen of Starband

We recently heard from Liz Allen who was the second "Julie" in Starband and remained with the band for two years before eventually leaving when Dee McMahon returned from her pregnancy leave. Liz then emigrated with Des and the lads to South Africa in 1982 when the band split up. She played with them for a few years before joining the band Shiraz and eventually emigrated to Australia where she remains today. More on Starband here.

June 1, 2007....Tony Loughman, Monaghan music legend mourned

(From the Mayo News) Tony Loughman, who died in his native Castleblayney last week, was a central player in the Irish country music scene for many years. He was aged 64 and had been coping with an illness for some time. He was predeceased by his daughter Edel last year.

During the late 1970s and well into the ‘80s, Tony directed the hugely successful Top Rank organisation that was the biggest management operation in country music on the island of Ireland in those years. Several of the biggest names in the business operated out of the Top Rank stable including Big Tom, Philomena Begley, Susan McCann, Paddy Cole, Hugo Duncan and a host of others.
The company also ran a chain of ballrooms and venues. The furthest flung venue from Castleblayney was the Macra Hall in Abbeyleix.

Tony’s company had its own recording studio in Castleblayney as well as its own weekly publication, Entertainment News, which had a nationwide distribution bringing readers up to date with all the happenings on the country music circuit. I had the privilege of editing the Entertainment News magazine for a time and lived in Castleblayney for some months. In many ways, the Loughman enterprise was an empire within the structures of the country music scene here in Ireland.

Tony started out as a quarryman and often said that it gave him a great grounding in understanding the ordinary people. He later served for a term or two as a member of Castleblayney UDC. A strong footballer, he won eleven Monaghan senior championship medals with Castleblayney Faughs and was a big supporter of the club all his life. As a teenager, he captained Monaghan to an Ulster minor final win while he also played for the Monaghan senior team for a number of years during the 1960s. Immersed in the culture of the GAA, his son Declan was a member of the Monaghan senior team for several seasons.

But outside his native county, he was mainly associated with the world of country music and the promotion of shows. He was a regular visitor to Mayo and the last time I met Tony was in the TF in Castlebar last year. In recent times, he had being doing a lot of promotion work for Deirdre Reilly, the Nashville-based singer whose dad is from Belmullet. Fr Brian D’Arcy was the chief celebrant at his Requiem Mass in St Mary’s Church, Castleblayney and among the overflow congregation were many well-known people from the showbiz and circuit including Big Tom, Phil Begley, Derek Davis (RTÉ), Susan McCann, Paddy Cole and many more. Tony is survived by his wife Joan, sons Declan and Anthony, daughters Caroline and Ciara, in-laws, grandchildren, brother Noel and sister Sheila, relatives and friends.

May  22, 2007.....Accordion and Showband legend, Dermot O'Brien passes away

Dermot O Brien, Irish showband legend, has passed away in Ardee after returning to Ireland from the United States after a long illness. The renowned musician and singer's recording of 'The Merry Ploughboy' went straight to number 1 in the Irish Charts in 1966. Dermot also hosted his own television programmes, including 'The Dermot O'Brien Show' on RTÉ television and his talents as an accordion player were respected the world over. He also had a great love of the Irish language and his All Ireland winning speech in 1957 was delivered primarily in the native tongue. With his Clubmen, he toured the Irish and English ballroom circuit in the sixties, before moving into cabaret in the 70's and 80's.

Dermot joined the renowned Jury's Irish Cabaret in 1995 and spent six happy years performing with them in Dublin and on their US tours. After the 2000 season, Dermot left to pursue his solo career. He spent the summers performing in Ireland, after which he returned to his home base in New York. Most recently, Dermot toured the U.S. in 2002 with a very successful Christmas Tour featuring himself and Deirdre Reilly. 

Dermot is also well know as Louth's 1957 All-Ireland winning captain. A member of the St Mary's club in Ardee, he won three Louth Senior Football championship medals in 1951, 1956 and 1960 and also played for one year with Navan O Mahony's. In 1953, he won a Leinster Senior Championship medal as part of the Louth team that defeated Wexford in the Leinster final. In 1957, he won his second Leinster Championship medal when Louth defeated Dublin in the Leinster final, and in September of that year lifted the Sam Maguire cup on behalf of the Wee County.

Dermot's beloved wife, Rosemary died on January 15, 2005. Our condolences to Dermot's daughters, Catheryne, Grace and Roisin, his sons Ronan and Dermot, and the rest of his family and friends. 



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