Rest In Peace
Down through the years, some showband musicians have
passed away, some as a result of illness, others in tragic
circumstances. On this page we remember them. This list
unfortunately is not complete. If you know of any other
showband musicians who have died, please e-mail me withdetails.
. Billy Brown and the Freshmen arguably the best showband of them all
Billy"s name is spoken with reverence and respect, not just by his fans,
but by his contemporaries in the music business.
Billy was the music, and he helped make the Freshmen one of the
biggest attractions in the country
He died June 6th 1999
TRIBUTE TO BILLY BROWN/John Waters
Billy Brown, who died last week, at 56, was not a man whose shoes could be filled by mere mortals. I have met three people in my life whom I would describe with the word "genius", and Bill was one of them. He was not "just" a most brilliant musician and singer, a gifted, though extremely lazy,songwriter and composer he was also an accomplished landscape and wildlife painter and a fine writer to boot
I found his passing all the more sad because of the almost
total absence of mention in the national media.
There was a time, less than 30 years ago, when Billy Brown was as well-known throughout Ireland as,
say, Christy Moore is today. Anyone who ever stood in an Irish dancehall in the 1960s or 1970s will
know who Billy Brown was and have a sense that something great is lost but unacknowledged this week.
Before the advent of RTÉ Radio 2, there was an average of
three or four hours of pop and rock 'n' roll on national radio per week.
The only way most people got to hear pop music, let alone live pop
was in dancehalls.
A lot of showbands were rubbish, it is true, but many
were not, and the Freshmen were as far from
rubbish as you could imagine. One time, when I was interviewing the late, great blues guitarist Rory
Gallagher (who also started out in a showband), he told me about going to a Beach Boys concert in
Belfast as a teenager, at which the Freshmen played support. The Freshmen, led by Billy Brown and
Derek Dean, played first and featured a medley of Beach Boys songs. They were astonishing, Gallagher recalled, singing multiple harmony parts in perfect pitch. When the Beach Boys came on later and sang the same songs, they sounded, by comparison, well . . . rubbish.
For all his sense of frustration at not having transcended
the Irish scene, Billy Brown never regretted his
showband days. He always said that the Freshmen were as good a band as any in the world. The reasons he gave for their failure to break big international were (a) nobody ever thought of trying, and (b) they were doing too well at home.
Bill wasn't a showband head. He loathed showband retrospectives,
showbiz priests, country 'n' western,
accordions and also, I suspect, though he was too polite to say so, guitars. He knew how good and how bad the showbands were. His modesty was never false, but he made no grandiose claims for what he did.
"There's a difference," he would say, "between rock 'n' roll and music." It wasn't a judgment, just a
statement of the facts of life as he saw them.
His great friend and colleague, Derek Dean, once said that Billy Brown's epitaph should read as follows:
"Here lies Billy Brown. He never took one bite out of life when two would do." I asked Billy once if he
regretted living life at quite such a pace, given the toll it had taken on his health. "If I'd've gone easy," he replied with genuine incomprehension, "I wouldn't have enjoyed it so much. What's the point in that? I'm a great man for extremes. That would be like having a tenner and spending nine pounds."
When God created Billy Brown, he threw away the score. See you next time, Bill.
Good night, God bless and safe home.
Singer Butch Moore
Singer who became first Eurovision entry
BUTCH MOORE: Butch Moore, who died on April 3rd 2001 aged 63, was
a showband icon during the 1960s. He achieved celebrity status as Ireland's
first contestant in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1965 and attracted huge
crowds with the Capitol Showband in the State's many ballrooms.
The showbands were a showpiece of Seán Lemass's 1960s Ireland, as the State emerged from the dreary 1950s, and pseudo-plush ballrooms with exotic names like the Borderland (Muff), Limerick's Jetland and the Dreamland in Athy replaced the parish hall as a dance venue.
For a time, there were hundreds of showbands, dressed in colourful suits, criss-crossing Ireland to midweek and weekend venues. Butch Moore, the lead singer with the Capital Showband, rivalled the Royal Showband's Brendan Bowyer as Ireland's most popular showband vocalist. When his career went into a decline, he emigrated to the United States in 1970, where he spent the past 31 years.
Butch Moore was born James Augustine Moore in Dublin in 1938
He played with a number of bands before securing his big break with the Capitol Showband in 1958. Its line-up included band leader, Des Kelly, and Paddy Cole, who is still involved in the entertainment business, and an early songwriter for the band was Phil Coulter.
The Capitol achieved a considerable degree of success in the early 1960s. It toured America in 1961, and two years later became the first showband to appear on the new RTÉ television service. The Capitol played in the London Palladium in 1964 on a night when the lineup included Roy Orbison.
Butch Moore was at the height of his success in 1965, when he won the National Song Contest to represent Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest, in Naples, singing Walking the Streets in the Rain.
Written by Teresa Conlon, George Prendergast & Joe Harrigan In his book on the showband era, Send 'Em Home Sweatin', Vincent Power recalled the atmosphere of the night: "Naples, Saturday, 20 March 1965. Prayers are said that the rest of Europe will vote for Butch's entry . . . Luxembourg wins for the first time since the Eurovision Song Contest began in 1956 . . . Ireland is sixth - a satisfactory result for our début in the contest."
Returning to Dublin, Butch Moore was greeted by hundreds of adoring fans, and his celebrity status grew in the dancehalls. For a time, the adulation rivalled Beatlemania in London.
He would later recall narrowly escaping injury at the hands of fans in July 1965, when he was pulled off the stage by a surging crowd in the Arcadia Ballroom, in Bray. But the showband world was to prove a fickle and volatile business for the Eurovision hero. His marriage to Nora Sheridan, with whom he had three children, Karen, Gráinne and Gary, broke up. And his career nose dived after he left the Capitol.
Power writes about "a fallen idol, broke and disillusioned" emigrating to the United States in 1970. There, along with Maeve Mulvany, later to become his second wife, he developed a successful cabaret act. They had three children, Rory, Thomas and Tara.
They subsequently owned a very successful nightclub - The Parting Glass - in Millbury, Massachusetts.
Butch Moore is survived by his wife Maeve, children, Karen, Gráinne, Gary, Rory, Thomas and Tara, brothers, Brendan, Desmond and Thomas, and sister Marie.
James Augustine (Butch) Moore: born 1938; died, April 2001
Good night, God bless and safe home.
Memorial Card From the Files of
Ballymote Co Sligo
Johnny Kelly, Bram McCarthy (Capitol),1987
Noel McNeill (Capitol). 1994
Maeve Mulvany-Moore, 58,
died Saturday, Feb.14th 2004 in Boston.
Her husband, Butch Moore, died in 2001. She leaves two sons, Rory M. Moore of Boston and Thomas M. Moore of Sutton; a daughter, Tara M. Moore of Dublin, Ireland; a sister, Cairenn Rooney of Ireland; two brothers, Brian and Tony Mulvany of Ireland; three step-children, Karen, Graine and Gary. She was born in Dublin, Ireland, daughter of Leo and Kathleen (O’Donnell) Mulvany and has lived here since 1969.
In Ireland, Maeve was known as Ireland’s Queen of Ballads and also
became the first lady to race motor bikes there. She was featured in two
films, when in Ireland, in the 1960’s. Mrs. Moore and her husband came
to this country in 1969 and performed together under the name of Butch
and Maeve as entertainers of Irish and American pop music. They performed
in the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Carnegie Hall in New York City,
Mechanics Hall in Worcester, in Springfield and in many other concert halls
from Maine to Texas. Maeve and her husband formerly owned and operated
the Parting Glass Pub in Millbury for five years.
Trumpeter Brian McCoy (second left) and keyboard player
Fran O'Toole (third right)
together with Tony Geraghty, were murdered by terrorists in 1975
Last picture of Miami Showband Summer of 1975.
Left to right
Tony Geraghty Fran O'Toole, Ray Millar, Des Lee,
Brian McCoy and Steve Travers
By Nuala Haughey
The loyalist murder of three members of the Miami Showband 25 years ago today
has ensured that the band's name lives on in political as well as popular culture.
The musicians in one of Ireland's best known groups were killed when a UVF gang, some of whom were also members of the Ulster Defence Regiment, stopped them at a fake UDR roadblock on the main NorthSouth road.
The band had just ended a concert in the Castle Ballroom, Banbridge, Co Down, and were returning to the Republic in the early hours in their minibus when they were
waved down by an armed group wearing military uniforms.
The musicians pulled over for what they took to be a UDR checkpoint and climbed out of the minibus.
They were made to line up beside a ditch, place their hands on their heads and give their names and addresses.
Mr Stephen Travers, a 26-yearold bass guitarist who had recently joined the group, said the atmosphere was initially relaxed as the musicians were used to being stopped by the security forces in the North.
He became concerned about his guitar when some men seemed to be searching the rear of the van.
"I took my hands down and walked back and asked them
what they thought they were doing with my guitar," he said.
Mr Travers was quickly punched in the back and within minutes the bomb
the terrorists had been loading into the rear of the van went off prematurely.
"Very quickly the whole world turned a very, very bright red colour for me and I was thrown into the air and shot in the hip by a dumdum bullet," Mr Travers told RTÉ radio recently.
The bullet punctured Mr Travers's lung. The next thing he heard was his colleagues, instrumentalist Tony Geraghty (23), and lead singer Fran O'Toole (29), asking not to be killed. Their pleas were followed by a burst of machine-gun fire. Geraghty and O'Toole died instantly, along with trumpeter, Brian McCoy (33).
Two of the terrorists, Harris Boyle, a UVF "major" from Portadown, and Wesley Somerville, a UVF "lieutenant" from Caledon, Co Tyrone, died in the blast.
The bomb blast blew a fourth band member, Mr Des Lee into a field,
when they came looking for him and poking him with rifles, he pretended to be dead
Once they left him he ran to the road and flagged down the lorry. and got a lift to Newry police station.
Mr Travers said he spent the next while "going and coming, walking around the field" in a delirious state.
He had been close friends with Mr Geraghty, and described Mr O'Toole as a jovial practical joker and Mr McCoy as a father figure.
"I'd just got the best job in Ireland and met some of the most exciting people
I'd ever met in my life and it was brought to an abrupt end."
Four men received life sentences for their role in the Miami massacre.
|In late 1961 Tom Dunphy,Bass Player and singer with
the predominantly rock and roll band the Royal Show Band recorded Come
Down the Mountain, Katie Daly". It was a bluegrass tinged traditional tune
and early in 1962 became the first "showband" country single to enter the
Tom was tragically killed in a car accident on the 29th July 1975, on his way to the 'Mary from Dunloe' Festival.
|Tom Dunphy's fame explains this elaborate memorial.
The Royal Showband, of which he was a founder member, was the most succesful
of all the Irish showbands
The memorial is on a short bypassed section of the old N4. A mile south of Drumsna the R201 meets the N4.
TOM DUNPHY MEMORIAL
Erected to the memory of one of Ireland's leading Country Music stars who was fatally injured near this spot on the 29th July 1975 aged 39 years
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