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All About The Johnny Flynn Showband (1940's - 1972)

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

The Story

Article by John Baird and Gerry Gallagher

The town of Tuam in Co. Galway, has earned a reputation as “the Showband capital of Ireland” because at one time in the early 60's, no less than six top class showbands called the well known market town home. The best known of these was the Johnny Flynn Showband, a musical combination with its roots firmly in the tradition of the Tuam Brass Band. This is not surprising as Tuam's bandmaster, Danny Kelly (senior) was a member of the original Johnny Flynn Dance band. 

The band's story starts long before the era of the showbands. Back in the 1940's, The Johnny Flynn Dance Band traveled the length and breadth of the West of Ireland. With Johnny on accordion, the band could play the standard dance tunes of the day, as well as a wide variety of Ceili, Dixieland and country music. This is one of the distinctions that allowed them to provide what dancers wanted, a trait the band would carry for the rest if its history. The band's reputation was second to none and it was a natural that when the showband boom hit, Johnny would be right there in the thick of things.        

In 1958, Johnny cast aside the music stands and put together his first fully fledged "showband." The original lineup was: Johnny Flynn (organ/accordion), brothers Brendan Flynn (sax/clarinet) and Francie Flynn (bass), Danny Kelly (Jr.-trombone), Billy Potter (guitar), Frankie Hannon (drums), Ollie Maloney (trumpet) and Gerry Cronin (vocals).

The band was an immediate success and even out drew the top bands in the West of Ireland. The band became one of the first five showbands to tour the United States in 1963. They toured America during the Lenten season, and while over there recorded a single featuring Gerry Cronin entitled You Took Her Off My Hands. It was never released here as the hole in the middle of the record was too large  for a standard record player. (You Took Her Off My Hands (Now Please Take Her Off My Mind) / Hoots Mon Twist on Headline records in New York, catalog number 1016.)

1964 was a somewhat tumultuous year for the band. Pat Smyth joined giving the band two lead singers. Then a few months later, Ollie Maloney, Gerry Cronin and Billy Potter left to form the Ohio Showband. Ray Donnelly (guitar/vocals) was brought in to replace Gerry and a short time later Jim Dalton (guitar), and Billy Kelly (trumpet) joined the band. In the meantime, they continued to travel countrywide and had an especially big following in the Northwest. More tours of the USA and trips to the UK were undertaken, and they took part in the New York St. Patrick's Day parade in 1964.

In 1965, the band recorded its first Irish single, Who Knows sung by Ray Donnelly, who went by the name Ray Donn. However, a spelling error at Decca had the label printed as the Johnny Flynn Band featuring Ray Dunn. Although the record did not do particularly well, it got valuable airplay and brought the band into the National limelight as all the bands had been recording by this time after Tom Dunphy started the ball rolling in 1962 (only 3 years earlier).

Like other bands, there were many personnel changes  but the line up that made the most impression on the recording scene was : Johnny and Francie Flynn, Frankie Hannon, Jim Dalton, Danny Kelly, Roy Donnelly, Joe McIntyre, Billy Kelly, Pete Creighton and vocalist Pat Smyth who had a No. 1 hit with The Black and Tan Gun in 1966. This fine line up also recorded many singles and an album entitled The Magnificent 7 which covered much of the band's varied stage repertoire and was released in 1972.

In 1966, Roy left the band, lured away by the promise of a solo Decca recording career in England. He quit and moved to London, but soon found the contract he was offered was not as promised and returned to Dublin. Retiring as a fully professional singer, he took a day job, but was soon singing part time again with the Tom O'Brien band, with whom he had been with in 1961 in the Crystal Ballroom, before joining Johnny Flynn. However they were now the resident band in Clery's Ballroom in Dublin. By 1972, Jimmy was no longer performing and in 1978, he emigrated to the USA and has remained there since. (He has since returned to the stage and started singing again).  

Around the same time (1972) Johnny announced a partnership with The Fleet Showband (also from Tuam) called Entertainment Workshop. The idea was to provide all types of entertainment for a variety of venues including dances and cross channel events for both bands. We are pretty sure this never got any place as within a year, we think the band was off the road, but we will check on that fact. An interesting side note is that by this time, Jim Dalton, formerly with Johnny Flynn had joined the Fleet as its leader behind Gerry Fahey.     

Like all the Tuam bands, The Flynn Band featured many brass arrangements, this being their trademark and the varied dancing programme of pop, Dixieland, country, and ballads was well received by appreciative dancers. They had in their enigmatic drummer Frankie “Flash” Hannon, a superb drummer and showman and his renderings of Fats Domino numbers were showstoppers to say the least.

In the early 1970's, the end of the traditional showband line up was in sight, but Johnny Flynn continued on as The Johnny Flynn Sound until the end of 1972 or early 1973. This great showband left us with a host of memories and will never be forgotten. They were great musicians all: names like Mickey Eagleton, Mickey Devaney, Billy McGlinchey, Patsy Haugh, Angelina McDonagh, Martin Murphy, and others were a part of this western-based showband.

Sadly, Johnny Flynn died in 1996 and was preceded by Brendan Flynn, Billy Kelly, Frankie Hannon, Gerry Cronin and Ollie Maloney.  May all the deceased band members rest in peace.

Photo Gallery

Click on thumbnails for full images

Johnny Flynn Band - 1956 (JB) Johnny Flynn Showband (JB) Johnny Flynn Showband (LR) Johnny Flynn Showband (BK) Johnny Flynn Showband (LR)
Johnny Flynn Showband (BK) Johnny Flynn Showband (BS) Johnny Flynn Showband (JB) Johnny Flynn Showband (PB) Johnny Flynn Showband (JB)
Johnny Flynn Sound (JB) Johnny Flynn Sound (JB) Pat Smith (RM) Johnny Flynn Showband (RM) Johnny Flynn Showband (RM)
Johnny Flynn Showband (RM) Johnny Flynn Showband (RM) Johnny Flynn Showband (RM) Johnny Flynn Showband (RM) Johnny Flynn Showband (RM)
Johnny Flynn Showband - 1966 (BF) Johnny Flynn (PH) Johnny Flynn Dance Band - 1950's Johnny Flynn Sound - 1972 Johnny Flynn Sound - 1972
Johnny Flynn Sound - 1972 Johnny Flynn Sound - 1972 Johnny Flynn Sound - 1972 Johnny Flynn with Ali (MH) Johnny Flynn (PL)
     
Johnny Flynn (PL) Johnny Flynn Sound - 1972 Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon
Year Vocals Vocals II Piano/Gtr Sax/Gtr. Bass Drums Acc/Keybs Sax Trumpet Trombone
1954
 
Philomena
Costello
  Danny
Kelly, Sr.
Martin
Costello
Francie
Flynn
Frankie
Hannon
Johnny
Flynn
Johnny
Costello
Tommy
Higgins
 
1956
 
Kevin
Eagleton
  Danny
Kelly, Sr.
Mickey
Devaney
Francie
Flynn
Frankie
Hannon
Johnny
Flynn
Brendan
Flynn
   

 
Mickey
Eagleton
  Billy
Mac
  Francie
Flynn
Frankie
Hannon
Johnny
Flynn
Brendan
Flynn
Olly
Maloney
 
1958
 
Gerry
Cronin
  Billy
Potter
  Francie
Flynn
Frankie
Hannon
Johnny
Flynn
Brendan
Flynn
Olly Maloney Danny
Kelly, Jr.
1964
 
Gerry
Cronin
Pat
Smyth
Billy
Potter
Pete
Creighton
Francie
Flynn
Frankie
Hannon
Johnny
Flynn
Joe
McIntyre
Billy
Kelly
Danny
Kelly, Jr.
1964
 
Roy
Donnelly
Pat
Smyth
  Pete
Creighton
Francie
Flynn
Frankie
Hannon
Johnny
Flynn
Joe
McIntyre
Billy
Kelly
Danny
Kelly, Jr.
1964
 
Roy
Donnelly
Pat
Smyth
Jim
Dalton
Pete
Creighton
Francie
Flynn
Frankie
Hannon
Johnny
Flynn
Joe
McIntyre
Billy
Kelly
Danny
Kelly, Jr.
1966
 
Jimmy
Harte
Pat
Smyth
Jim
Dalton
Pete
Creighton
Francie
Flynn
Frankie
Hannon
Johnny
Flynn
Joe
McIntyre
Billy
Kelly
Danny
Kelly, Jr.
1972 Angela
McDonagh
Pat
Smyth
  Pete
Creighton
Francie
Flynn
Frankie
Hannon
Johnny
Flynn
Patsy Haugh Billy
Kelly
Danny
Kelly, Jr.

12
Angela
McDonagh
  Unknown   Francie
Flynn
Unknown Johnny
Flynn
    Danny
Kelly, Jr.

Irish Discography (partial list):

Singles:

Who Knows / Afraid to Go  (J. Flynn Showband featuring Roy "Dunn" Donnelly)
Decca Records - F.12141 - 1965
Black and Tan Gun  / Your Mother's Prayer
 (J. Flynn Showband with Pat Smyth)
Emerald Records - MD 1033 - 1966
Tell My Little Girl Goodbye / The Fugitive
(J. Flynn Showband)
Emerald Records - MD 1076 - 1967
The Dying Rebel / A Word or Two to Mary
(J. Flynn Showband with Pat Smyth)
Emerald Records - MD 1129 - 1969
Banna Strand (Peter Creighton) /Heart Break Hill (Frankie Hannon) - J. Flynn Sound
Release Records - RL.554 - 1970
Cartello (Quigley) / Lagan Love / Magic Trumpet - (J. Flynn Showband)
Ruby Records - RUB.129 - 1971
Four Green Fields
/ Wandering Home (J. Flynn Showband with Pat Smyth)
Pye Records - 7N.60010 - 1972
Drowning My Sorrows / Playback - (J. Flynn Sound with Angela)
Hawk Records - HASP 318 - 1973
Today Tomorrow and Forever / Burning The Midnight Oil - (J. Flynn Sound with Angela)
IRL Records - IRL.229 - Unknown

Album:

The Magnificent Seven plus two = The Johnny Flynn Sound - (J. Flynn Sound)
EMI Talisman Records - STAL 1025 - 1972

Our thanks to Bob Merchant for assistance with this discography.

Audio Clips

       
Black & Tan Gun Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon

Coming Soon

Where Are They Now?  

Kevin Eagleton - RIP: We have been told by Marie Hannon, that Kevin sadly passed away in the United States some years ago.
Danny Kelly, Sr.-RIP Sadly passed away
Mickey Devaney - RIP: We have been told by Marie Hannon, that Mickey sadly passed away some years ago.
Francie Flynn: Marie Hannon told us via email in Dec 2013 that Francie is still in Tuam where he has lived all his life. We do not know whether he is still involved with music. If you know more, please let us know
Frankie Hannon - RIP:  Marie Hannon, Frankie's daughter, emailed us in November, 2013 to tell us when Frankie
quit the Johnny Flynn band in mid 1972, he formed a local trio called the Big 3 with Pete Creighton and Billy Kelly.
Sadly, Frankie passed away only 3 years later on June 16, 1975. He was only 41 and left behind a young family of
five.
Johnny Flynn: RIP One of the West of Ireland's most beloved musicians, Johnny Flynn kept his band on the road for over over 30 years from the 1940's through the 1970's. We sure he also played well past that time. Johnny sadly passed away in 1996.
Brendan Flynn: RIP Sadly passed away
Danny Kelly, Jr.: Marie Hannon told us via email in Dec 2013 that Danny is still in Tuam where he has lived all his life. We do not know whether he is still involved with music. If you know more, please let us know.
Olly Moloney: RIP Ollie left the Johnny Flynn Band in the mid 1960's (we not sure if it was the same time as Gerry Cronin), but we do know he ended up with the Ohio showband for a short time. He then formed his own Olly Moloney Band in the 1970's. Sadly, Olly passed away March 23, 1994.      
Phil Costello - RIP: Sadly passed away, Phil was Johnny's wife.
Tommy Higgins: If you know more, please let us know.
Johnny Costello - RIP: We understand from Marie Hannon that Johnny has sadly passed away. If you know more, please let us know.
Martin Costello - RIP:  We understand from Marie Hannon that Martin has sadly passed away. If you know more, please let us know.
Roy Donnelly: In 2013, we caught up with Roy and he told us he left the band in 1966 and ended up singing with the Tom O'Brien band who were resident in Clery's Ballroom in Dublin. In 1972, he retired from performing and in 1978 emigrated to the States, where he has remained. A few years ago, he retired from his "day job" and started singing again for fun. He performs regularly with his show, "An Affair to Remember." He spoke fondly of his days in the showband and the fans of the era. He said he hopes to do a tour of Ireland. Then 70, he continues to entertain audiences across Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.     
Gerry Cronin - RIP:  Gerry left the band sometime in the early to mid 1960's and formed his own band, The Ohio. The band started as a showband and eventually went through oth country music and eventually pop as it became the Cronin Family Band in the late 70's and early 80's. Sadly Gerry passed away April 3, 1988.
Pete Creighton - RIP:  We know from Marie Hannon that Pete left the band at the same time as Frankie Hannon and formed a trio called the BIg 3. Pete sadly passed away March 20, 2010
Jim Dalton:  Marie Hannon tells us Jim is living in Dublin  If you know more, please let us know.
Jimmy Harte: After leaving the Miami, Jimmy stayed close to home and joined the Jack Flahive Orchestra. A few years later he moved on to the Arrans Showband finally ended up living in Tuam and playing with the Johnny Flynn Showband before emigrating to Australia. Jimmy emailed us in 2006 to tell us he is now living in Perth Australia (he emigrated there in 1986) where he is still playing and singing. He has toured extensively in Asia and South Africa since leaving Ireland and released a CD of original songs in 2006 as well. He had a band there for 15 years which finished 7 years ago. He now plays solo using backing tracks and recently celebrated his 70th birthday.
Billy Kelly - RIP We know from Marie Hannon that Billy left the band at the same time as Frankie Hannon and formed a trio called the BIg 3. Sadly, Billy was killed in a car crash around 1973 along with his brother P.J. He left behind a very young family of six.      
Joe McIntyre:  Marie Hannon tells us Joe is living in Dublin. If you know more, please let us know.    
Pat Smith (Smyth?): Marie Hannon sent us an email in December, 2013 to say Pay was living in Dublin, but still maintains a house in Tuam and visits regularly. If you know more, please let us know.     

 

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