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The (Herdsmen/Family/Pals) / Champions Story (1973-1991)

Photo Gallery - Band Lineups - Discography - Audio samples - Where Are They Now?

The Story

The story of the Champions, one of the late showband era's biggest attractions, started quietly enough when they hit the road as the Herdsmen in early 1973. The original lineup was: Gina (vocals), Jerdie (also spelled Gerdi) Mackey (eventually to be known as Dale Haze-vocals), Mossy Walsh (keyboards), Pat Walsh (guitar), Eddie Fitzgerald (bass) and Tony Hornibrook on drums. The band released their first single, Paper Mansions on a four track EP (also known back then as an maxi single), but it did little for them.

The band was playing the smaller circuit and not quite getting the exposure they wanted. Their fortunes started to turn when they signed with Tony Byrne of Dublin's Tommy Hayden Enterprises (THE). Tony knew the band had talent, but that they also needed to overhaul their image. The work to re-brand the band started when an advert in the Spotlight issue of September 6, 1973, advertised a band called "Gina, Jerdy and the Family." A few weeks later, Pascal Mooney's column, Jamboree, in the September 27, 1973 issue of Spotlight included a photo of Gina of the Herdsmen and stated that the band would now be known as The Pals.

While the band continued to search for an illusive new name, fate came into play when on September 23, 1973, Cork beat Galway in the G.A.A. All-Ireland Football Championship in Croke Park (3-17 to 2-13 for fans). It was Cork's first All-Ireland title since 1945 and the county went wild. Finally, the band had their name, The Champions. On October 4, 1973, an advert appeared in Spotlight announcing the incredible "Champions" featuring Gina and Jerdi, along with the re-release of the band's 10 month old single, Paper Mansions.  Manager Tony Byrne was confident the band's image change was complete.

Their first single recorded as the Champions (and second single - released in February, 1974) was Dreams Are Good Friends, which had been an International hit for Vicky Leandros in 1973. The record hit a chord with punters and climbed to Number 12 in the Irish Charts. The Champions had their first hit and were off and running. At this point, Jerdi was still using his real name and Gina was still more or less being featured as the main lead singer with the band.

More tweaking of the band's image would be required before they finally hit their stride. The early 70's was an interesting time in the Irish showband world. The "big" showbands of the 60's were either gone, or had morphed into either pop or country bands, or fractured as members left to form new bands. What was actually happening was, the dancers that had brought the showband eras to its peak in the mid to late 60's were too old for the ballrooms. A new generation of dancers was demanding something new and fresh. At the time, many of the "new" bands on the scene were either old names with new lineups, or some old lineups with new names: Nevada, Sands, Royal, Big Eight, etc. The Champions were a fresh new face and their music better represented the new generation of dancers who were still filling ballrooms across the country 4-5 nights a week.

Eventually, Jerdi changed his name to Dale Haze and Gina, Dale Haze and the Champions finally had their name and image solidified. Their next single in 1975, Minnie, Minnie, climbed into the the Irish Top Ten to Number 5 and the band were official hit makers. Unlike so many bands of the era, the Champions did not undergo any lineup changes and continued to grow their reputation and fan base the old fashioned way, through hard work and a superior product. Like Galway's Conquerors, the band did not exhibit the flash and flair of some of their competitors but continued to play a solid dance program and put our well made (although rarely original) records.

Around 2010 the band reformed and did a series of concerts and from what we can gather, they continue to do gigs for special occasions.   

More to come.....

Photo Gallery

click on thumbnails for full image

Herdsmen - 1973 Herdsmen - 1973 Gina - 1973 Champions - Oct, 1973 Gina, Dale Haze & The Champions (DL)
Gina, Dale Haze & The Champions (DD) Gina, Dale Haze and the Champions The Champions The Champions (SK) Gina & Dale Haze of the Champions - 1975 (LR)
Champions (PH) Champions (PH) Champions (PH) The Champions The Champions
Gina & Dale Haze The Champions (DD) Dale & Gina - 1979 (PH) The Champions (BE)

Champions

Gina & Dale Haze (SK) The Champions (SK) The Champions (SK) Champions 2010 (BE) The Champions (SK)
Champions Today Champions (RF) Champions (RF) Champions (RF) Champions (RF)
Champions (RF) Champions (RF) Champions (RF) Champions (RF) Champions (RF)
Champions (RF) Champions (RF) Champions - 1975 Champions - 1975 Champions - 1974
   
Champions - 1975 Champions - 1973 Champions (RF) Coming Soon Coming Soon
A - Gina B - Gina Herdsmen (Cork) (RF) Herdsmen (Cork) (RF) Herdsmen (Cork) (RF)

Lineup Changes (We think none)
 

Years Vocals Vocals Guitar Bass Drums Keyboards
1973-
present
Jerdie "Dale
Haze" Mackey
Gina Pat
Walsh
Eddie
Fitzgerald
Tony
Hornibrook
Mossy
Walsh

Discography

Singles:

Paper Mansions / Nobody Home To Go To / Eden / Shelly's Winter Love (Herdsmen and again as Champions in late 73)
Release Records - RL.662 - January, 1973
Dreams Are Good Friends - #12 Irish Charts
Play Records - February 1974
Minnie Minnie - #5 Irish Charts
Release Records - June, 1975
Oh My My
Release Records - RL.782 - August, 1975
Do You Want To Do It - #2 Irish Charts
Release Records - May, 1977
I've Been Waiting For You - #8 Irish Charts
Release Records - August, 1977
You're The Greatest Lover - #10 Irish Charts
Release Records - January, 1979
Who Do You Wanna Be? - #7 Irish Charts
Spider Records - Sept, 1979
Drunken Sailor / Saturday Night - #13 Irish Charts
WEA Records - February, 1981
It's A Real Good Feelin' - #15 Irish Charts
WEA Records - May, 1981
Give Me Back My Love / If You Want My Love - #11 Irish Charts
WEA Records - IR.18742 - August, 1981
More To You Than Meets The Eye - #14 Irish Charts
WEA Records - February, 1983
Maybe Tomorrow - #24 Irish Charts
WEA Records - November, 1983
Playing With Fire - #18 Irish Charts
CBS Records - June, 1985
Breakaway - #19 Irish Charts
Chart Records - October, 1988
Single Girl / Broken Wings
Unknown Label -
I'm Blue / Mama Mama (Gina)
Koff Records - KOFF 3

Albums:

Champions Again
Spider Records - October, 1979
Gina, Dale Haze & The Champions
WEA Records - December, 1981

* Our thanks to Seamus Kiernan for assistance with the discography

Audio Clips

     
A Real Good Feelin' Do You Want To Do It Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon

Where Are They Now?  

Gina:
Jerdie "Dale Haze" Mackey:
Mossy Walsh:
Pat Walsh:
Tony Hornibrook:
Eddie Fitzgerald:

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In Loving Memory of Grant Gallagher: Sept. 21, 1990 - Nov. 18, 2006