It all began in 1954
Joe McCarthy and two of his friends Sean Lucey and the late Theo Cahill were offered a gig at UCC.
When were asked what kind of music they played and they said Dixieland".
So on Easter Sunday a sign at the front door of “The Rest” read "Music by the Dixielanders".
The name stuck and the rest, as they say, is history.
They shortened the name to "The Dixies", added pianist Mick Murphy and trumpeter Larry Neville
Soon they were joined by Chris O'Mahony on bass,
saxophonist Jimmy Mintem and guitarist Steve Lynch.
This Photo Courtesy of Liam O'Reilly Collection
In 1961,after an exceptional performance at the Olympia Ballroom in Waterford,
(where they rivalled the Royal Showband) the unit turned professional.
Determined to magnify their appeal they recruited vocalist Brendan O'Brien,
who rapidly became one of the most popular singers in the country.
They secured a management deal with Peter Prendergast and based themselves in the Arcadia.
They were now well and truly on their way.
The Dixie’s story is a long and exciting one recalling some of their great hits.
Cyclone;Christmas Time; I'm Counting On You; It's Only Make Believe; Oh Boy; Peggy Sue;
It Doesn't Matter Anymore; All Together Now;Little Arrows and Katie's Kisses.
While Brendan’s singing was superb, it was Joe’s acrobatic, zany comedy that made the Dixies
such a marvellously complementary unit.
Throughout the golden years of the sixties the Dixies were rarely out of the charts.
They had 27 top twenty hit records.
Brendan O'Brien and Tom Jone
The song that provided them with what had eluded them up to 1968 was Little Arrows and it spent five months in the charts. Prior to that, they had twice hit the No.2 spot, first in 1965 with I Love You More Today and again the following year with It Doesn't Matter Anymore.
Brendan O'Brien has a ready place
In any Hall of Fame of Irish Showbands greats.
In the golden era of the showbands
during the swinging 60s,
Brendan and his colleague Joe McCarthy and the Dixies were the royalty of Cork.
One of his greatest achievements was to bring the music of Buddy Holly
to the sixties generation in Ireland
He released a string of Holly covers which stormed the charts -
two of his biggest hits were ''Rave On'' and ''It Doesn't Matter Anymore''
Brendan was seriously injured in an on-stage accident in the
Stardust Ballroom in Cork in 1974 after suffering severe electric shock.
He was lucky to survive the voltage
that night but it took
a huge toll in the years that were to follow.
Recently Brendan has been concentrating on his solo career,
Re-mixed versions of some of Brendan O'Brien's best known hits
are being targeted at a new generation of music lovers,
as well as older generations who once danced to Brendan and the Dixies Showband
in the ballrooms of the sixties. The CD - simply tiled ''A Taste of Honey''
Brendan O'Brien and Joe McCarthy left The Dixies to form Stage 2.
Brendan O'Brien and The Dixies
(daughters Trisha and Aideen)
By Ralph Riegel
Friday April 04 2008
TRIBUTES flooded in last night to the family of showband legend Brendan
who died suddenly at his Cork home.
Mr O'Brien (66) was best known as one of the leading members of The Dixies.
Just four months ago he joined emotional tributes to Joe Dolan on his sudden death.
The singer was found dead in his Cork city centre flat.
He had apparently died while in an armchair in his sitting room reading a newspaper.
He is survived by his five children, Brendan, Conor, Trish, Aideen and Sinead,
all of whom are now based in Canada.
Mr. O'Brien joined The Dixies -- a Cork-based showband -- in 1961
after a brief period as a stand-in musician.
The Dixies hit the big time in 1963 with their smash-hit single, 'Christmas Time', and they became one of the leading acts on the showband circuit.
They agreed a contract with PYE Records in 1964 and had two Top 10 hits -- for a period rivalling such showband legends as The Drifters, The Miami, The Cadets and The Royal Showband.
The highlight of The Dixies recording career was the hit single, 'Little Arrows', which shot to No. 1 in Ireland and stayed there for a record-breaking 26 weeks.
It charted as well in a dozen European countries.
- Ralph Riegel
Joe McCarthy of the Dixies showband, a youthful looking
Michael Martin (later to become Ireland's health minister),
fellow Fianna Fail politician Batt O'Keefe and chief organiser Kevin Meaney
pause for a photo during the Carrigaline Charity Day in 1991.
Joe Terence McCarthy was born in Cork on August 6, 1936.
He served his time as an upholsterer in Cash’s (now Brown Thomas), where he met Ann Maloney.
They married in 1960 and had three children, Aiden, Joseph and Paul, and adopted their daughter Jennifer in 1968.
The Dixielanders - Joe Mac, Seán Lucey and Theo Cahill - played their first gig in UCC on Easter Sunday 1954 and shortened the name to The Dixies.
Band members over the years included pianist Mick Murphy, trumpeter Larry Neville, bassist Chris O’Mahony, Jimmy Mintem, Steve Lynch, vocalist Brendan O’Brien, John Sheehan and Finbarr O’Leary.
The band, based at Cork’s Arcadia, played all over the world and topped the bill at
Carnegie Hall on September 26, 1964.
The Dixies’ biggest hit, Little Arrows, made number one on September 7, 1968.
That same year, they were named Band of the Year and Joe Mac
was named Showman of the Year in Spotlight magazine.
Theo Cahill (Saxophone) of the Dixies Showband.
Collapsed and died on stage at the end of a dance in Achill July 24, 1988
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