Bandits Showband Story (1963-1975)
Photo Gallery -
Band Lineups -
- Audio samples -
Where Are They Now?
The first mention we can find of the
Tuam based Bandits is in November 1963 when they were advertised to
play several local dances in the Tuam Herald. Around this
time in other advertisements they were described as a "local group."
It took the band a while to get established but by the following
year, they were playing across several counties and had made great
stride in conquering neighboring Mayo venues.
By mid 1964, the band went on its
first tour of venues in England and other reports in the Tuam Herald
that year said they were regular visitors to England in the months
that followed. In these early days, the lineup of the band was:
Johnny Cosgrove (drums), Tommy Walsh (trumpet), Frank Fahy (vocals),
Tommy Ryan (bass), Eamon Ryan (guitar), Jimmy Reilly (sax), and
Willy Brogan (trombone). We are a little confused about the role of
Liam Ivory (accordion) in the band. Newspaper report surrounding his
passing in 1988 credited him as being a "founding member" of the
band, although we can find no information from early sixties to
substantiate that. Let us know if you know more of the story. The
band was being managed by Raymond O'Brien.
At some point in 1966 the band had
their first lineup changes when Johnny Cosgrove was replaced on
drums by Donal Troutt, and Stan McCormick took over for Tommy Walsh
on trumpet. Tommy would go on to play with many big bands of the era
including the Graduates and the Real McCoy among
In June 1966, the band recorded
their first of several singles entitled Riverman and sung by
Tommy Ryan. It was released on the Emerald label (as would all their
singles over the next few years. Although the record sold well
locally, the band did not have a hit record with any of their
releases. At the time, the band made the claim that Tommy Ryan (who
came from Milltown) was the first Galway "born, bred and reared
vocalist to be featured on a showband record."
In September, 1967, tragedy struck
the band when Jimmy Reilly's sox-year-old son, Thomas, was struck
and killed by a lorry near his home on the Athenry Road. The same
year, the band released One More Ride which failed to chart.
A year later, on September 13th,
1968, the band released its third single, "Schumann Was His Name," a
bouncy sing-along song which was arranged by Jim Doherty. Despite a
blaze of publicity which touted the single as a sure fire "hit," the
recored didn't make the charts, but it did help the band maintain
its growing reputation as a steady showband that entertained dancers
with a great mix of pop and standards.
Interestingly, the story about
their latest single reported that it was conceived during the band's
"fourth" birthday party which was being held at manager Raymond
O'Brien's house in Galway. Given that the band first came together
in late 1963, this is a little confusing but publicity reports back
in the showband days never let facts get in the way of a good story.
An article in the July 12th issue
of the Tuam Herald reported the formation of a new country band by
Des Kelly in Galway called the Virginians. In the article Tommy Ryan
was named as the new outfit's bass player, although we don't think
this ever happened as Tommy would be the Bandits' featured vocalist
through at least 1970.
The last reference we can find
about the band playing regular gigs was in late 1975, after which
time, the band seemed to disappear from the newspaper adverts for
dancing and we assumed they broke up.
More to come.....
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