CONTINUING THE FORTNIGHTLY SERIES BY JOHN BAIRD ON THE SHOWBAND ERA, FOCUSING ON THE POPULAR LOCAL SHOWBANDS, THE PERSONALITIES,AND THOSE OTHER WELL KNOWN SHOWBANDS WHO BECAME HOUSEHOLD NAMES , AND ATTRACTED THE DANCERS TO THE COUNTY,S DANCEHALLS. IN THIS ISSUE WE FEATURE THE TREND SHOWBAND FROM DERRY.
On the first Wednesday of every month , I go up to HIGHLAND RADIO, as an in studio guest of Mickey Doherty, a former member of the Trend Showband and presenter of the weekly Showband Show. I do a forty five minute feature on the local Showband Scene as it was , and if possible play some rare recordings of these much loved local Bands. During my spot, Mickey poses questions to me sent in by the listeners who want to know facts and information regarding that great era in our musical past. So a few weeks ago the tables were turned when I put the questions to this affable Derryman on the Showband he played with , the Trend.
The band started as a five piece , including brass back in the mid 1960,s The founder members were , Liam Deakin, Richard Carlin. Hugo Carlin, Eddie Sweeney and Charlie Doherty. Like we,ve seen so many times in these articles these lads decided to form a full time Showband, firstly playing local venues , Derry, Donegal etc. As popularity increased Eddie Davis became their manager and dates further afield were sought. Mickey Doherty came into the band , when he returned from working in England. He was playing locally in the pubs of Derry and tells me his first local “gig” was in “the Cruiskeen Lawn” Buncrana. He joined the Trend as support vocalist to frontman .Peter “Boy” Roddy and Mickey also doubled on keyboards and trombone. The line up of the band in 1967 were : Peter Roddy,(Vocals), Hugo Carlin ((Bass), Richard Kelly (Drums) , Raymond Beales (Lead Guitar), Eddie Sweeney(Tenor Sax. / Bandleader)Johnny Murray (TenorSax.), Donal Sweeney (Organ) and Mickey Doherty (Keyboards/Trombone/Vocals). One point that Mickey made was that when band members were picked for the Trend , it was solely because of their collective musical ability.”There were no Prima – Donnas” quipped Mickey, who remembers that the first gig he played with the band was in Castlefin. Under the
Management of Eddie Davis, this popular Showband were to be found entertaining dancers in halls and marquees all over Ireland, places like the TV .Club Dublin, Gleneagles Hotel , Killarney, Seapoint Ballroom, Galway, over to the Irish Halls in England and in Strathpeffer in Scotland where they played a much publiscised Hogmany Gig.. Mickey rates the Fiesta Letterkenny as one of the bands favourite venues together with the many dates they played In West Germany , Italy Spain and so on for the US, forces in Europe.
They decided to change management in order to enhance their image through professional media , and Tony Byrne, from the Tommy Hayden Enterprises Office in Hawkin St, Dublin took over as manager. To quote Mickey, “It cost £100 to get a half page of publicity in Spotlight Magazine” and when the time came for to go into Eamonn Andrew.s Studios to record their 4 Singles, the services of Jack Bayle as producer did,nt come cheap either”. One of these Singles was the ballad”Rose OF moray” penned by Malin man, John Donovan , and others included, “Run, Run Run”,
“Almost Persuaded”, “Roofs and Rafters” etc, all good upbeat material popular at that time. Thy als shared the bill wit many famous artists including , Roy Orbison, Slim Whitman, Hank Locklin,The Foundations, Tremeloes, Johnny Duncan and many others. One personality they wont forget was ex World Heavyweight Boxing Champ. Joe Frazier and his band in the Lilac , Carndonagh.When “Smokin,” Joe found out that Mickey Doherty had bet £20 on Cassius Clay to beat him ,a mock fight ensued between them, “And not a cameraman to be found” laughs Mickey
Another thing that Mickey told me , that in the band a certain code of discipline applied . No drinking on the day of a “gig” and the band always ate together before appearing at a venue, in order to discuss the everyday running of the band. Like many other Showbands , Derek and the Sounds and others, they decided to head for Canada , doing 6 week tours and playing regularly in the Maple Leaf Ballroom , St Clair , Ave, Toronto. They also played the Windsor House , Toronto but found time to come home and play the Irish Circuit as well. However by mutual consent of all the band members it was decided to go to Canada on a permanent basis in 1970 “ It was purely a democratic decision to make the move , but I was the only member who decided to stay at home “ says Mickey. That was in 1974 and since then Mickey has became a household name on local radio as well as a successful cabaret artist with CD releases to his credit. And what of the Trend Showband who continued to play on as the Trend in Canada until1976. Ray Beales , Richard Kelly and Donal Sweeney are still in Canada while Peter Roddy, Eddie Sweeney, Hugo Carlin, Johnny Murray and Mickey Doherty are still in Derry.
To end our look at the Trend, Mickey a prolific storyteller “ told me a good wan!”. When they were in Canada, Murty Quinn, of Miami and Sands fame took a great shine to Mickey,s sandwiches,comprising of fried egg on lettuce on bread topped with tomato sauce. “make us a sandwich ,Doherty” Murty would ask after a “gig” , and Mickey would duly oblige. .”Ah! sure you can,t beat the Doherty,s”.
In our next issue we are going
to look at one of the biggest crowd drawing bands a Ballroom Owner could
wish for. The famous Royal Showband, Waterford, and there,s “a wee Donegal
connention in there too!”.
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