Blue Aces Feature (1957-1968)
Photo Gallery -
Band Lineups -
- Audio samples -
Where Are They Now?
With thanks to Mick Gilligan
The Blue Aces Showband formed
in Waterford around about 1957/58 from an earlier band called the
Mellochords. Mick tells us "rehearsals used to take place in bass player Seamus
Carew's front room. How everyone fitted in remains a mystery. The
bass in those days was a full size upright bass fiddle!! Jerry
O'Shea used to carry his drum kit there in an old pram...
Sophistication at its finest!!"
The band started getting gigs
locally in late 1958 as well as relief work further afield to the
bigger bands like the Clipper Carlton in 1959. In October, 1959,
they set out on their first foreign tour when they went to Glasgow
to play some dates. They were calling themselves "Ireland's Youngest
Showband" at the time, but this was a claim many band would make
over the early years of the era. The band was being managed by Bill
Mulcahy who also ran the Arundel Ballroom in Waterford where the
band started as a relief group to the big bands.
In June, 1960, an article in
the Munster Express Newspaper announced that the band was
turning professional, joining the Royal Showband as the only "pro"
bands in the town. At the time the band would undergo a couple of
line-up changes when Tony Condon replaced Larry Barry on trumpet and
John Cooney took over on piano from T. Murphy.
From these modest
beginnings emerged one of the finest bands in the country at that
time. During Mick's time with the band, from August 1961 there were
quite a few changes of dress. Said Mick, "The earliest I can remember was blue
shirts with yellow neckerchiefs, then blue jackets and black
trousers, paisley type jackets, and finally all white suits. How
they kept clean I'll never know."
Mick also told us that "during my time, the
'Van" was a white Commer minibus with seating for ten, space at the
back and a roof rack. Speakers, drum cases, and bass fiddle all went
on top covered with a tarpaulin, and it was parked in the open at
night... innocent times! Duchy O'Meara the trombone player, had the
dubious honour of loading the roof in all weathers. I was involved in the
earliest record made by the band in Henry Street in Dublin in 1961 (Eamon
Andrews studio I think) It was a demo: Sucu Sucu / Kon Tiki / Last
Night & Rockin Goose. Other singles were made later when the band
moved to the UK. These were on Pye and Columbia labels."
By 1963, Tony Dalton was
managing the band and they continued to grow their reputation as one
of the top bands in the country, playing all counties and the
In June, 1964, a report in
the Cork Examiner said the band was recording in Kingsway Studios
and that Charlie Cheevers (described as the "leader of the group")
was at just as comfortable singing Ave Maria, Bless This House, or
the latest number from Elvis." Reported to be in the session with
Charlie were: John Cooney, Tony Walsh, Ron Carthy, Jimmy Phelan,
Seamus Carew and Jerry O'Shea, which was the band's new line-up at
The band made several records
in 1964 and into 1966, but with little commercial success including
Land of Love, I Beat You To It and You Don't Care.
Mick continued his story of
his days with the band, "early excursions to the UK
took place as with other bands during Lent, when there was of course
no dancing in Ireland. Clubs visited were mainly in London,
Manchester, and Coventry. I myself never appeared on TV with the
band, but in the later sixties they did quite a bit of work for the
BBC. In fact the Blue Aces backed Lulu when she performed "Shout" on
Top of the Pops. In conclusion I have many
fond memories of my time with the "Aces" I visit Waterford often and
meet up with the boys. As recently as May 2002 a reunion was held in
Waterford, the proceedings being filmed by WLR the local TV station.
Ahh what nostalgia."
Reports from newspapers seem
to indicate that sometime around mid 1965 the band went to London
and did not play in Ireland for an extended period. A report in the
Connacht Telegraph in October 1965 said the band had signed a
recording deal with a subsidiary of EMI records called West One.
There were plans for a new single and touring, but we can't find any
reference to that again.
In August, 1966, several
small ads appeared in the Irish Independent which read: From London,
Tony Walsh, TV, Radio and recording star; lead vocalist formerly
Blue Aces, seeks position with top showband only or personal manager
for promotion. Waterford. We can only assume from this that the band
had broken up and Tony had returned home, but if you know any more,
please let us know.
We know that in 1983 Tony "Froggy"
Walsh had started his singing going again changing his name to Tony
More to come.....
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