The Millionaires Showband   ( Dublin )

 “ Who wants to be a Millionaire”, the phrase has became synonomous with
Chris Tarrant hosting the popular TV quiz show, but back in 1963 – 64 , six young men and a
young lady were Millionaires  when they became founder members of the showband bearing that name.

Recruited from Cookstown,s Grafton Showband were guitarist Mickey Conn , Bassist Joe Doherty , later to become known as “The Yoddeling Twins”, Vocalist Bridget McAnearney ,who adopted the Stage name
Penny Trent, sax player Gene Bannon joined from the Pat Cambell Showband and Castleblaney Trumpeter Tommy Walsh played their fist gig in Dublin,s Crystal Ballroom on Boxing Night 1964 under the management of Drummer Johnny Davitt.

 In 1965, Tommy Walsh left the band and was replaced by well known Tuam Trumpeter Jimmy Higgins who had been a founder member of the International Showband in Manchester . He was joined by Trombonist Billy Doyle and drummer Mick O, Brien and with the “Yoddeling Twins” already a big hit on RTE.,s show  “Hoedown” the band really took off and were soon to prove that they were a big hit with dancers at home and abroad. They covered the home circuit countrywide and also the usual Lenten trips to the U K, but it was four trips to the USA  and also across the border to Canada that really proved they were a popular outfit. Back home , the band appeared on RTE,s  Showband Show  and the Go 2 Show. As Jimmy Higgins told me “We had a good musical outfit playing a mixed genre of music and in Mickey Conn and Joe Doherty we had two great vocalists.”

   The lads recorded their first single featuring the Duo Conn and Doherty entitled “Winter Winds” and followed this with a Tommy Swarbrigg composition “The Natural Thing to Do” featuring some great “ riffs” by the potent brass section. Penny Trent left the band to join the Enniskillen based Skyrockets where she changed her stage name to Penny Starr. She was replaced by Terry Cassidy who adopted the name Terry Cash continuing “the money theme” in their stage names. Drummer Mick O,Brien , who had obtained his pilots licence left to join the staff of Aer Lingus was replaced by Alfie Merrigan who had been with the Skyrockets. The band played support to many visiting artists including Dusty Springfield and the Seekers when they toured Ireland. Their publicity handouts were well planned and many contained images of dollar notes and other currencies. The also appeared on the inside cover of the 1966 showband annual posing with the latest model of the Volkswagen minibus, good publicity indeed!. To quote Jimmy Higgins “They were a happy band and I spent three and a half great years with them until they finally called it a day in 1970”. Where are they now ? Well Joe Doherty is still involved in music as is Alfie Merrigan. Gene Bannon runs a pub in his native Cootehill and fronts his own jazzband, and
Jimmy Higgis is a presenter with Galway Bay FM.. So if you,re in that area tune into Jimmy every Thursday night between 8 and 10 pm. where you will hear him echo those immortal words
“ That,s all for now , Your next Dance please”
John Baird


The Millionaires were formed in 1964
 Gene Bannon,(Breakaways)(Drifters)(Times)Tommy Walsh Trumpet later replaced by
Jimmy Higgins ( Paramount, International,Raindrops, Big Time)     now a DJ on Galway Bay FM
Trombonist Billy Doyle and drummer Mick O'Brien
Moving from The Grafton Showband
were Guitarist Michael Conn Bassist Joe Doherty,and Penny Trent

 Penny Trent
 left to join The Skyrockets (as Penny Starr)


Courtesy of Liam O'Reilly Collection

Back:  Joe Doherty, Michael O;Brien,
Gene Bannon, Michael Conn
Front:  Fergus Burke, Billy Doyle, Jimmy Higgins


 The Millionaires



From John Bairds collection
     bairdart@iol.ie

 
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