Photo Gallery -
Band Lineups -
- Audio samples -
Where Are They Now?
Dave Glover is credited with
coining the term "showband" even though the Clipper Carlton are
generally regarded as the band that first popularized
this uniquely Irish form of entertainment.
His story starts with his birth in 1925 in a fire
station in Ardoyne, youngest of four. All his brothers played
instruments: Ollie (tenor sax), John (trombone) and Sam (tenor sax)
played with Dave on his trumpet and his mother on piano.
Growing up in Belfast, he and his
brothers played with the Belfast Military band. When he was in his
early teens he joined the Whitehurst Silver Band, a local marching
band. A few of the lads got together and formed a group that played
in the local pubs. He first took a job as a
fitter in the Short and Harlands shipyards and learned a trade, before setting
off for a career in music. In 1945, he played trumpet for the summer
in the Queens Ballroom and in 1946 he was in Milanos Ballroom with
Jimmy Montague. In 1947, he turned 21 and started his professional
as the trumpet player with the Bob Robinson Orchestra which was the
resident band in the Floral Hall in Belfast for
£7-10 schillings a week.
1948 he left the orchestra and formed a four piece group which
played functions and dinner dances in Belfast. Dave took the big
plunge in 1952 when he formed his own 14 piece orchestra and was the
resident band in the newly built Arcadia ballroom in Portrush. This
was a relationship he would maintain for over a decade, performing
there as the resident band every summer. In 1955, Dave added a 20
minute "show" to the act and changed the name of the band to the
Dave Glover Showband, the first band to use the term in their name.
In a 1989 BBC interview Dave admitted he got the idea from the
Clipper Carlton and that the term, "showband" term grew out of "Crazy
Night" in which he let the band smoke and drink on stage, as long as
they dressed up and were willing to do a skit or two. From that came
the idea of the cabaret "show" in the middle of the dance.
Interestingly enough, Dave talked
about the conditions that helped lead to the downfall of the
showbands. In the early days, bands played the full four hours from
9 to 1 am. As bands became more successful, Dave feels they became
lazy and started to substitute an inferior relief band for the band's
first two hours. (Editor's note: Of course, in later years, even the relief bands
would be replaced by discos!)
The original Dave Glover Showband
included Dave (trumpet), Gerry Rice (sax), Andy Wilson (trombone),
Joe Clarke (vocals), Alex Burns (guitar), Jackie Flavelle (bass),
Davy Martin (drums) and Harry Mitchell (keyboards). The band would
play the summer seasons in Portrush and spend the rest of the year
touring the ballrooms of Ireland. Harry Hamilton joined the band on
bass in 1961 when he swapped jobs with Jackie Flavelle, Jackie going
to Johnny Quigley's band.
Strangely enough, the band split
in 1963, just as the showband era was in full swing. Everyone but
drummer Davy Martin left and formed the Witnesses Showband, who
recruited George Mullen on trumpet to replace Dave. The Witnesses
would go on to their own fame and fortune, touring extensively
outside Ireland and gaining a reputation for one of Ireland's most
musical bands. Dave recruited a new lineup which included
Gough Glenn (clarinet), Charlie Walker (bass), Jim Armstrong
(trombone), Tommy Duffy (guitar and vocals), Jim Carson (guitar) and
Bobby Wright (vocals).
The new lineup clicked with the
dancing public and really took off. They were one of the first to
feature both a male and female lead vocalist which gave them great
range when covering the hits of the day. Throughout the 1960's the
band continued to be one of the major draws across the country and
toured extensively in England, playing the Irish clubs abroad. In
1967, they undertook their second tour in the United States, playing
for three weeks across the northeast and Canada.
In April 1968, soon to be
Plattermen member, Simon Scott joined the band as lead vocalist along with
Muriel Day. The next chapter in the band's history is a little
difficult to decipher. It appears that in late 1968, the band broke
up with Simon Scott going to the Plattermen. Dave and Muriel went
into cabaret (this reported in the March 8, 1969 issue of
Spotlight). However, in early 1969, Muriel was selected to
represent Ireland in the Eurovision song contest, a major break for
the her. Following her win, the band was put back on the road
with Muriel as the lead singer. Dave has said that he thought it was a great
opportunity to put Muriel out front and would allow him to manage
the band. In Spotlight magazine in September, 1969, and advert
announced Dave Glover was "back" with Muriel Day and Billy Joe as
In 1970, things were really
happening for Muriel. An article in the March 27th issue of
Spotlight reported that Muriel had done an hour long special on
BBC and that she had been booked for a series of shows that would
take her to all the big towns of the six counties in the North. The
series was slated to air beginning April 8, 1970. She was also
featured a few weeks later on the first episode of the RTE series
Girls, Girls, Girls.
However, the band went off to tour Canada and in the end,
Muriel and Dave split up with Muriel staying and Dave returning home
and the band went off the road.
Dave continued to play music well
into his 80's with his own jazz band. On the 27th of April, 2009,
Dave (aged 85) sadly passed away in Belfast bringing to an end one
of the most colourful careers of the showband era.
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