Gene and the Gents
Photo Gallery -
Band Lineups -
- Audio samples -
Where Are They Now?
The band was formed in 1964, when 4 members of the Enniskillen based
Skyrockets left to start a new band. The members were Paddy
(sax), Dermot Doherty (trombone), Peter Watson (drums)
and Henry McCullough (lead guitar). They were joined by Tony
Gallagher (rhythm guitar) and Barry Scully (bass guitar).
The Gents advertised for a lead singer. At that time, 21 year old Dushie Chetty had come to Dublin from
his home town of Durban, South Africa
to study law....or so he thought. He was always keen on music and
went regularly to the various dances in
Dublin to hear different showbands. He became
good friends with the members of the Sands who told him to watch the
showband ads for a spot as a lead singer. When he saw the ad for a
band in Enniskillen, he audition and landed the job.
Gene picks up the
story, "Henry suggested
we should be billed as Gene and the Gents, because at that
time bands were advertised as: "The Royal featuring Brendan Bowyer"
or "The Miami featuring Dickie Rock". I think we were the first band
in Ireland with the lead singer named before the band. Before long
most of the bands followed suit!" The band's
manager, Fergus Sherlock, was the singer with the
Gallowglass Ceili Band, but gave up singing to concentrate on full
time management. Fergus left in 1968 and was replaced by Sammy Smyth,
now a well known journalist and TV presenter in the North.
The new band made their debut in the County Hall, Monaghan on St
Patrick’s Day, 1964. Adds Gene, "Three
busloads from Enniskillen traveled to Monaghan to give us support."
Based in Enniskillen, they quickly built up an enormous
following, especially in the North. They were voted among the Top 10
attractions in the North by Spotlight magazine in 1966 and
the top 20 in all of
Henry McCullough left the band in 1966 and was replaced by Pete Cresswell. Henry went on to international fame appearing in bands
such as Wings, Joe Cocker's Grease Band and Dublin Group Eire
Apparent (which also featured
Freshman Tiger Taylor at one point).
Henry may also be the only former Irish "showband" musician to
have appeared at Woodstock.
In 1966, the band released its
first record Puppet On A String, which reached
the Ulster top 10. They followed this up with The Way You
Wrinkle Your Nose / I Came As A Stranger (penned by Barry
Scully) in 1967 and finally C’mon Everybody / Hound Dog
In 1968, Paddy McDermott left the
band to start his won business and he was replaced Malachy (Mal)
Kearns on sax. Mal had previously been with the Green Angels
and was also an excellent singer.
The band continued to do very
well, which Gene attributes to the fact that, "our attraction to the
dancers was our live performances, which was good rock n roll and
Also in 1968, the band played
support (as many showbands did in those days) to a top English group
touring Ireland called
Love Affair who had a No 1 hit at the time with
Everlasting Love. Gene takes up the
story...."Unfortunately their live performance was poor, unlike
showbands who were used to playing live! The crowd booed and threw
coins at them and called for us to return to the stage." Also
in 1968 Davy Quinn replaced Barry Scully on bass (our thanks to Pete
Cresswell for that info).
In the March 22, 1969 issue of Spotlight, an article on the scene in
Northern Ireland announced that Gene would be leaving the band at
Easter to form a new group called The Flames. The April 19th issue
of Spotlight included an article about the new band and its members.
The band included: Billy McKittrick (keyboards), Hugo Andrews (sax),
Davy Quinn (bass), Gene Chetty (vocals), Gerry McIlduff (drums) and
Pete Cresswell (guitar). The new band debuted on Easter Sunday at
the Commercial Ballroom in Dungannon. Pete and Davy had also previously been
with the Gents.
However, the new band didn't last long and
according to Gene, "The big mistake in the Flames was putting too
much accent on youth and not enough on experience." In May,
they were selected by the BBC to guest on the Radio One Club show
broadcast live from Belfast. However, the band was
gone within 3 months. Gene left and Pete and Davy Quinn went on to
form a new group called Sneaky Pete which started as a four piece
and then was "re-launched" in October, 1970 as a six piece.
Pete takes up his
story, "After that came Pat McGuigan and the Skyrockets and
then I went back to London where Henry (McCullough) got me an
audition with Eire Apparent, but that never happened in the
end as they were making no money and I was asked to join the
Cricklewood Club Big Band who knew me from playing there with
the Gents. They were the resident big band and we supported all the
visiting showbands. I was then asked to come back to Dublin by the
Jim Farley Band which I did before getting married in 1970 and
giving up touring." Pete would go on to play with many many bands
here in Ireland.
found a 1970 advertisement for a band called Gary Hynes and the
Gents. Pete Cresswell tells us this was a short-lived attempt by the
remaining members to carry on the band with the same name and a new
lead singer. We are not sure how long the lineup actually lasted.
In August, 1969, Gene joined the
Lions, sharing lead vocals with Tony Hughes after the tragic death
of Danny Pearse. Tony would later go on
the Cotton Mill Boys. The move was announced in the Insight column
in Spotlight on August 2nd saying that Gene would handle pop
vocals for the Lions while Tony specialised in country numbers.
However, Gene's time with the Lions was short lived and in January 1970,
the Lions disbanded and Gene returned to his studies,
completing a post grad in Business studies. Today he lives and works
in Letchworth (near
Cambridge), as a Management training
consultant. The Gents spoke about a reunion concert 3 years ago but
it did not materialise. Gene appeared in 2007's "Do You Come Here
Often" concert tour organised by David Hull Promotions.
Finally in 2006, Henry McCullough, who has his own
band, invited Gene to guest at his concerts in May. They performed in Enniskillen and Coleraine to a rapturous reception. Gene said
“despite being away from the Irish music scene for nearly 35 years,
I was “truly moved” by the reception in Enniskillen which was my
home for 6 years. I am now hoping to do 10-12 concerts in
Ireland next year. As Henry is busy
with his tour to Poland, Japan etc., I am trying to get a band
together or team up with an existing band!”
Sadly, in 2012
Henry suffered a heart attack which has left him disabled and unable
to speak, although he can still see and hear.
More to come.....
click on thumbnails for full image