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Showband Pedigrees

Many internationally famous musicians started their careers in showbands. On this page, we'd like to pay tribute to them and let the world know that "showbands" isn't a four letter word! If you know of any additional ex-showbanders, please drop us a line!

Henry McCullough
Born in 1946 and growing up in the seaside resort of Portstewart, Henry's first musical venture was as guitarist with Irish showband, The Skyrockets and the years to follow found him doing the dance hall circuit with similar outfits, including the popular Gene and the Gents. Henry went on to play with Joe Cocker's Grease band, Paul McCartney's Wings, Roy Harper, Marianne Faithful, Ronnie Lane, Donovan, Frankie Miller, Eric Burdon, Viola Wills and Spooky Tooth as well as his own groups. Today he once again lives in his native Portstewart. Sadly he suffered a massive heart attack in 2012 and could no longer play or speak. He sadly passed away on 14th June, 2016.
Rory Gallagher
Born in 1948 in Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal, but raised in Cork, Rory began at an early age when he saw Elvis Presley on TV and became inspired to get his first guitar. In his early teens, Rory began playing with the Fontana Showband throughout Ireland, whose repertoire included all the popular hits of the day. In 1965, the Fontana was renamed The Impact Showband and headed to Hamburg. Once there, the band split and Rory and two members formed Taste. Although Taste wouldn't last long, the band had a major impact on rock music. After Taste split Rory went solo and the rest is history. He died in 1995. More at 
Van Morrison
George Ivan Morrison was born in Belfast, on August 31, 1945. At 15, he quit school and lent his talent to a succession of bands. Like many other successful local musicians who started out during the showband era, various stints with such household names as The Monarchs, the Manhattan Showband and Brian Rossi's Band helped Van cultivate and develop his craft. In the mid 60's he formed Them. Boasting a fiery, gritty sound heavily influenced by Morrison heroes, Them's version of "Baby Please Don't Go," cracked the U.K. Top Ten in early 1965. Morrison left Them following a 1966 tour of the U.S., quitting the music business and returning to Belfast. However, his solo career is legendary. More at
Eric Bell
Eric was born in Belfast on the 3rd of September, 1947. His first band was The Atlantics Showband, but his big break came with the Deltones, who appeared as a supporting act and he also played with The Dreams showband. After a short with Van Morrison (shortly after Van left Them) Eric turned professional as guitarist with the Bluebeats Showband, from Glasgow. When Bell returned to Northern Ireland, he replaced Gary Moore in Shades Of Blue, but soon joined forces with former Them organist Eric Wrixen and finally joined Thin Lizzy in 1970. In 1973, Eric left Lizzy and since then has worked with many other artists and has, for the last 14 years been performing with his band, The Eric Bell Band along with Andy Golden on drums and Tony Wootton on Bass. More at
Colm Wilkinson
Colm came from a musical Dublin family, so it was no surprise when he started playing with bands around the city in the early sixties. He played with the Chris Lambe Showband, The Action, The Jim Doherty Quartet, The Four Aces, and in 1968 joined The Witnesses, a band that frequently toured abroad. In 1972, he was offered his first chance to break onto the musical stage as Judas in "Jesus Christ Superstar." In 1978. he won the Irish Song Contest with Born To Sing and toured the circuit again. In 1980, he moved to London and never looked back, gaining international fame as the star in The Phantom of the Opera, and Les Miserables. Today he lives in Canada. More at
Tony O'Malley
At fifteen, Tony joined an Irish showband, the Skyliners from Enniskillen. The Skyliners worked the dancehalls up and down the country until Tony was spotted by the manager of a soul band, the Blueshealers, that he then joined. The band became Ronnie Jones and the Q Set and played a long residency at the Bag OíNails club in Soho, where such luminaries as Jimi Hendrix would jam with the band. In 1972, Tony formed Kokomo, a ten-piece supergroup, featuring Neil Hubbard and Alan Spenner from Joe Cockerís Grease Band and Jody Linscott who has played with everybody from Elton John to Tom Jones, and is now currently working with Dido. In 1977, Tony left Kokomo and joined 10cc, but in 1978 left to pursue a solo career. Today he lives in London and plays with his own jazz group. More at

© 2002-2016 GMS Productions

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