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Graduates Showband Feature(1963 - 1972)

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

The Story

Our thanks to George Hand for some additional info on the band

The Graduates started out in Skerries, Co. Dublin tracing their roots back to the skiffle craze of the early 1960's. Tony Keeling, who had been singing since was seven, knew he had always wanted to be a singer and musician and formed a skiffle group. In a 1968 Spotlight article Tony explained that there were two rival skiffle bands in Skerries at the time and not enough work to go around, so they joined together to form a showband and called themselves the Euphonics (the name was "Greek for pleasant sounds.")

They had just left school and started playing local dances and relief. As were most showbands in the beginning, the boys basically played at the weekends and were "semi pro." (They would remain that way for two years). At a gig in the Pavilion Ballroom in Blackrock in 1962, their big break came when soon to be manager, Gerry Wickham, heard the band and offered to take them on full time.

Band member, George Hand picks up the story, "We were a band from a small town that put ourselves on the road with no financial help from promoters.  When Gerry Wickham took on the job of managing us we were young and he advised us like a father.  He had the Pavilion Ballroom in Backrock, Co. Louth and he gave us the opportunity to play relief to many famous names such as The Capital, Johnny Quigley, Kenny Ball to name a few.   He gave us the break to follow out dreams." 

The original lineup (and one they would keep, except for one change) was, Tony Keeling (guitar and lead vocals), George Hand (guitar), Andy Radley (sax), Colm McCormack (trombone), Gerry Bradley (sax), Tommy Coleman (bass), Fergus O'Brien (trumpet) and Paddy Landy (drums).

With Gerry's management in place, the band continued to play more and more ballrooms and soon faced the inevitable decision on whether to turn pro in November, 1965. They changed their name to The Graduates and ended up playing two seasons at the Red Island holiday camp in Skerries, which exposed them to a new audience of fans from Great Britain who came over to enjoy the Irish summer.

In January 1965, they released their first single, Kelly, an old Del Shannon number. It proved to be a hit and broke into the Irish Top Ten, peaking at number 8 in the charts. Said Tony, "Being such a well known number helped us a great deal. It was very popular with all the dance hall crowds throughout Ireland and was an easy title to remember." The band went from strength to strength in the next few years and by late 1967, were considered one of Ireland's most popular showbands. During this period, the band experienced it's only lineup change when Tommy Walsh replaced Fergus O'Brien on trumpet.

They undertook their first tour of Irish clubs in America during Lent (April), 1967 and played to audiences in New York, Chicago, Detroit and Boston and they also returned the following year. 1968 saw Tony win the top prize at the Castlebar Song Contest, where he beat out Eurovision veteran Pat McGeegan.

In late 1968 they appeared on the RTE programme, "Like Now" and in an article in the February 1st, 1969 issue of Spotlight, B.P. Fallon reported that Tony Keeling was attending classes at UCD 4 to 5 nights a week. In his own words, Tony said, "If Larry Cunningham can run a supermarket and still be in the Avons, why can't I go to college and get a degree?"  

By 1972, the band decided to call it quits. Said George, "We all went back to the day jobs in 1972 with the exception of Tommy Walsh who joined the Garda Band.  Music took second place to rearing a family until we were asked to reform to raise funds for the Skerries Community Centre.  We played four gigs then and it was a very memorable reunion because our children had never heard the Graduates play." 

More to come....  

Photo Gallery

click on thumbnails for full image

Graduates (JD) Graduates (LR) Tony Keeling (LR) Tony Keeling - 1966 (LR) Tony Keeling (BF)
Tony Keeling (LR) Graduates - 1967 Graduates - 1967

George Hand - 1967

Tony Keeling - 1967
Graduates - 1967 Graduates - 1968 Graduates - 1968 Tony Keeling - 1968 Graduates - 1968
Tony Keeling - 1967 Graduates (PL) Graduates (PL) Graduates (PL) Graduates - 1967
Graduates - 1969 Graduates - 1970 Graduates - 1968 Graduates - 1968 Graduates - 1967
Graduates (RF) Graduates (RF) Graduates (RF) Graduates (RF) Graduates (RF)
Graduates (RF) Graduates (RF) Graduates (RF) Graduates (RF) Graduates (RF)
Graduates (RF) Graduates (RF) Graduates (RF) Graduates (RF) Graduates (RF)
Graduates (RF) Graduates (RF) Graduates (RF) Graduates (RF) Graduates (RF)
Graduates (RF) Graduates (RF) Graduates (RF) Graduates (RF) Graduates (RF)
 
Graduates (RF) Graduates (RF) Graduates (RF) Graduates (RF)

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Years Vocals Guitar Bass Drums Sax Sax Trumpet Trombone
1962 Tony
Keeling
George
Hand
Tony
Coleman
Paddy
Landy
Andy
Radley
Gerry
Bradley
Fergus
O'Brien
Colm
McCormack
1967 Tony
Keeling
George
Hand
Tony
Coleman
Paddy
Landy
Andy
Radley
Gerry
Bradley
Tommy
Walsh
Colm
McCormack

Discography

Singles:

Kelly / Sentimental Me  - #8 Irish Charts
King Records - KG.1014 - February, 1965

Anything That's A Part of You / It's A Crying Shame
- #10 Irish Charts
Pye Records - 7N.17008 - November, 1965
Just My Baby and Me / Another You
Pye Records - 7N.17077 - 1966
Edelweiss / Come A Little Bit Closer
 - #7 Irish Charts
Pye Records - 7N.17201 - November, 1966
Crystal Chandeliers / City Lights
 - #7 Irish Charts
Pye Records - 7N.17418 - November, 1967
I Want To Live / Angel
Pye Records - 7N.17578 - June, 1968
See The Girl Dance
Hit Records - Unknown - September, 1971

Album:

Kelly
Marble Arch Records - MAL 857 - 1968

Audio Clips

Coming Soon

Where Are They Now?  (Coming soon)

Tony Keeling: For many years, Tony had been a teacher and the Principal of Fingal Community College in Swords, Dublin., However, he retired in 2012 and we do not know what he is doing now. If you know more, please let us know.
George Hand:  If you know more, please let us know.
Tony Coleman:  If you know more, please let us know.
Paddy Landy - RIP:  Sadly we have been told Paddy passed away.
Andy Radley:  If you know more, please let us know.
Gerry Bradley:  If you know more, please let us know.
Fergus O'Brien - RIP:  Ken Aust (Gibson) writes to tell us when Fergus left the Graduates he went to play with the The Tophatters who were resident in the Top Hat Ballroom in Dun Laoghaire in 1969. After that he left music and went into the central heating contracting business. Around 1990 he took a gig playing in The Unicorn Restaurant in Merrion Row. In 2005, he emigrated to Spain where he was playing sax and golfing everyday until his death in May, 2013. 
Colm McCormack:  If you know more, please let us know.

 

 
 


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