Annalees Showband Photos (1968-)
Photo Gallery -
Band Lineups -
- Audio samples -
Where Are They Now?
Based on newspaper reports, we
have discovered the band started out as a five man ballad group in
1967 when leader Tom Leonard grouped together with Tom Leonard and
Gerry, Mattie and Frankie Smith from Ballyhaise. The Smiths and
Leonards were cousins (except for Frankie who was no relation).
After building their reputation
playing in local variety shows and charity concerts (as they had no
equipment of their own), they added drummer Bud O'Neill and were on
their way to becoming a bona fide showband. By the end of 1968, they
had save enough to afford proper equipment, added keyboard player
Howard Lowry and turned semi-professional.
A little later, as they were
starting to make a name in the bigger halls , they were described in
the Longford Leader as "Larry Cunningham's relief band." The
band boasted some interesting members including the late Brian
Harkin who was only with them for a short time before going on to a
career with other major country bands of the era. (Editor's note:
The only reference of this kind I have found is when a Brian Herron
joined the band for a short stint, so perhaps this is Brian Harkin's
real or stage name at the time). They were based in Ballyhaise, Co.
Cavan. The band was being managed by Jimmy Smith of the Mighty Avons
(whose lead singer was Larry Cunningham, hence the reference above I
In July, 1969 Tom Corrigan (who
managed the Erne Palais Ballroom, Belturbet, Co. Cavan) took over
the management of the band and had planned a big future for them and
followed with a major publicity campaign to get them playing further
afield from their native Cavan. Due top Tom's connections, they boys
were able to play a greater number of ballrooms and started to
travel further afield, although still mainly in the North and
In October, 1969 the band
announced that Jim Simpson from Cavan had joined the group as lead
singer. However, this would not last long as in February 1970 it was
reported that the band had both parted company with then manager Tom
Corrigan and Jim had retired from show business. A week later it was
reported that Brian Herron from Dungannon was joining the band as
the new lead singer. Although somewhat confusing it appears Jimmy
Smith have taken over managing the band again as he claimed
responsibility for recommending Brian to the band.
In May, 1972, the band was joined
by country singer Ian Corrigan, who had previously been front man
for a time with the Casino Showband. They changed their name to the
The lineup at the time (which I am
pretty sure was the same for the previous few years) included: Ian
Corrigan (vocals), Gerry Smith (trombone), Jim Leonard (bass),
Thomas Leonard (sax), Mattie Smith (guitar), Howard Lowry
(keyboards), Bud O'Neill (drums) and Frankie Smith (trumpet).
More to come.....
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