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Larry Cunningham Feature (1960-2012)

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

The Story

Larry's legendary career started as a singer with the Grafton Showband from Gowna around 1960, although he wasn't with them long as he was soon the lead singer with the newly formed Mighty Avons which came together around 1961. Formed at the very start of the showband era, the Mighty Avons, if nothing else, were consistent, lasting nearly a decade without a single lineup a change. The band's original lineup included: Larry Cunningham (vocals), Brian Finlay (drums), Ronnie Griffiths (keyboards/guitar), Gerry Walsh (bass), Mick Brady (guitar) and brothers Jimmy (trombone), Peter (sax) and Paddy (trumpet) Smith.

In it's early years, the band was a typical showband playing "all things to all people," but as the split between country and pop bands become the norm in the late sixties, the band chose the "country and Irish" route as Larry was one of the all time best selling artists in this unique genre. 

Larry Cunningham was the star of the band from its inception until his departure in late 1969. The band enjoyed a lot of success with Larry, but he announced his last gig would be on August 31, 1969.  Despite rumours that he was leaving the band to get married, Larry explained in a quote in Spotlight that it was "purely a personal decision for the sake of my health and my business." Ever the shrewd entrepreneur, Larry owned both a supermarket and dry cleaning business.

As he left the band, Larry released a single from his own Ramblin Irishman LP, The Ballad of James Connolly and went on a short tour of England as a "special guest" with the Plainsmen (both artists were managed by Mick Clerkin) before returning to Ireland to form his own band, The Blue Boys, which soon added "country" to their name. 

The Blue Boys were actually four members of the Fairways (Gary Street had gone to join the Tom Kelly Sound in Ballina) with the addition of a new drummer and guitarist/fiddler. The Blue Boys were launched on St. Stephen's Night, 1969 at the Fairyland Ballroom in Roscommon. The original lineup was: Pat Cleary (keyboards), Ollie Kennedy (bass), Mike Bryan (guitar) and Bobby Clarke (trumpet) (all of the Fairways), along with newcomers Aidan Cunningham (guitar/fiddle), and Terry Reynolds (drums). In the Spotlight issue dated February 13-20, 1970, the band lineup was listed in detail and included Michael Keane (formerly with the Rhythm Stars) on sax, expanding the band to an eight piece. 

As an aside, in September of 1969, the Avons announced 24 year old Gene Stuart would take over as the band's new lead singer and his first appearance with them was in Tullamore on Friday, September 19th, 1969. Gene had previously been with the Regents Showband. 

An article in the March 27, 1970 issue of Spotlight reported that Larry's Blue Boys were being forced to change their name as the late Jim Reeve's backing band of the same name were still touring despite the singer's passing. Apparently adding the word "country" to their name would be enough and the band carried on as Larry Cunningham and his Country Blue Boys.

In a Spotlight interview in August, 1971, Larry stated he would "quit the day I get married." In the January 8th, 1972 issue of the magazine, he restated his commitment as he prepared to marry Beatrice Nannery, the Manageress of Larry's home town supermarket. Said Larry, "I may continue recording and doing the odd spot in cabaret or concert, but the ballroom scene is out." Larry was married on February 9th after undertaking a "Farewell Tour" of the irish clubs in Britain between the end of January and two days before his wedding. True to his word, he left the Country Blue Boys and Mattie Fox was brought on board to fill Larry's shows. 

In March, 1972, an advert is Spotlight announced the coming of the Country Blue Boys with 2 great singers, Mattie Fox and Tony Treacy (although Tony had been playing guitar with the band since 1970). They were advertised as "starting St. Patrick's Night."

Mattie would leave the band in July of 1973 and it was not clear in a June, 1973 article in Spotlight whether the Blue Boys would continue on.

Larry continued to entertain audiences across Ireland and the world until his death on September 28th 2012.

More to come.....

Photo Gallery

click on thumbnails for full image

Mighty Avons - 1966 (LR) Mighty Avons Mighty Avons (BF) Mighty Avons (PB) Mighty Avons (LR)
Larry Cunningham of the Mighty Avons (BS) Larry Cunningham of the Mighty Avons Larry Cunningham of the Mighty Avons-1967 Larry Cunningham of the Mighty Avons Big Tom & Larry 1969
Big Tom & Larry 1969 Larry Cunningham- 1967 Larry - 1969 Mighty Avons-1969 Mighty Avons-1969
Larry-1969 Mighty Avons (BD) Mighty Avons-1969

Blue Boys - 1969

Blue Boys - 1970

Blue Boys - 1970

Blue Boys - 1970

Blue Boys - 1971

Blue Boys - 1971

Blue Boys - 1970

Country Blue Boys (RF) Country Blue Boys (RF) Country Blue Boys (RF) Country Blue Boys (RF) Country Blue Boys (RF)
Country Blue Boys (RF) Country Blue Boys (RF) Country Blue Boys (RF) Country Blue Boys (RF) Country Blue Boys (RF)
     
Country Blue Boys (RF) Country Blue Boys (RF)

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Mighty Avons
Years Vocals Guitar Bass Drums Keyboards Sax/Guitar Trumpet Tromb/Sax
1961 -
1969
Larry
Cunningham
Mickey
Brady
Gerry
Walsh
Brian
Finlay
Ronnie
Griffiths
Peter
Smith
Paddy
Smith
Jimmy
Smith
Country Blue Boys
Dec
1969
Larry
Cunningham
Mike
Bryan
Ollie
Kennedy
Terry
Reynolds
Pat
Cleary
Aidan
Cunningham
Bobby
Clarke
 
1970 Larry
Cunningham
Tony
Treacy
Ollie
Kennedy
Terry
Reynolds
Pat
Cleary
Aidan
Cunningham
Bobby
Clarke
Mike
Kane (sax)
1971 - 1974 Retired from the ballroom scene
Country Blue Boys
1974 Larry
Cunningham
Tony
Treacy
John
Sheridan
Terry
Reynolds
Aidan
Cunningham
John
McGarrigle
   

Discography (Partial)

Singles:

With the Mighty Avons
Tribute To Jim Reeves / Take My Hand Precious Lord - #9 Irish Charts
King Records - KG.1016 - January, 1965
I Guess I'm Crazy / Don't Make Me Go
- #4 Irish Charts
King Records - KG.1020 - April, 1965
Lovely Leitrim / There's That Smile Again
- #1 Irish Charts
King Records - KG.1030 - September, 1965
Among The Wicklow Hills / The World You Left Behind
- #2 Irish Charts
King Records - KG.1034 - April, 1966
Snowflake / The Wild Rapparee
- #2 Irish Charts
King Records - KG.1046 - November, 1966
Fool's Paradise / In The Misty Moonlight
- #5 Irish Charts
King Records - KG.1053 - February, 1967
Three Steps To The Phone / Cottage On The Borderline
- #8 Irish Charts
King Records - KG.1061 - July, 1967
Little Nell / I Dreamed About Mom Last Night
King Records - KG.1070 - December, 1967
The Emigrant / The Fugitive
- #10 Irish Charts
King Records - KG.1073 - March, 1968
The Great El Tigre / Gweebarra Bay
- #17 Irish Charts
Release Records - RL.505 - November, 1968
Bracero / The Honkytonk Downstairs

Release Records - RL.512 - May, 1969

With the Country Blue Boys
Ballad of James Connelly / Pretty Little Girl From Omagh - #10 Irish Charts
Release Records - RL.524 - September, 1969
Don't Let Me Cross Over / A Church, A Courtroom Then Goodbye
- #7 Irish Charts
Release Records - RL.529 - December, 1969
Mother, The Queen of My Heart / The Lady Ninety Years Old
- #13 Irish Charts
Release Records - RL.534 - May, 1970
If You Should Come Back Today /
Release Records - Unknown - 1970
Pride of the West / San Antone/If You Should Come Back Today
- #17 Irish Charts
Release Records - RL.560 - January, 1971
Slaney Valley / I Was Coming Home To You
- #1 Irish Charts
Release Records - RL.608 - December, 1971
Four Great Irish Hits Volume 1 /
- #4 Irish Charts
Release Records - MRL.1001 - July, 1972
Four Great Irish Hits Volume 2 /
- #10 Irish Charts
Release Records - MRL.1002 - October, 1972
Goodbye Comes Hard To Me /
- #5 Irish Charts
Release Records - Unknown - March, 1973
This Time Of The Year /
 - #3 Irish Charts
Release Records - Unknown - January, 1974
Lovely Leitrim / There's That Smile Again
- #19 Irish Charts
Release Records - Unknown - June, 1974
My Kathleen / Boys
- #3 Irish Charts
Release Records - RL.775 - 1975
Hello Mr. Peters - Larry with Margo
- #15 Irish Charts
Release Records - Unknown - December, 1975
Yes Mr. Peters / As Soon As I Hang Up The Phone - Larry with Margo
Release Records - Unknown - 1976
Annagh Down /
 - #6 Irish Charts
Release Records - Unknown - September, 1976
Where The Blue and Lonely Go /
 - #19 Irish Charts
Release Records - RL.903 - April, 1977
Where The Grass Grows Greenest / Don't Let Me Cross Over / Water For My Horse
Release Records - RL.1012 - 1980
The Story of My Life /
- #16 Irish Charts
Ritz Records - Unknown - June, 1983
Galway and You /
- #30 Irish Charts
Ritz Records - Unknown - November, 1983
Walk On By /
- #26 Irish Charts
Ritz Records - Unknown - August, 1984

Albums:
Two Sides of Larry

King Records - KGL.4000 - January, 1967
Larry Cunningham Sings Country and Irish
King Records - KGL.4007 - December, 1967
Ramblin' Irishman
Release Records - RL.1001 - June, 1969
Country My Way - Larry and the Country Blue Boys
Release Records - SRL.3004 - May, 1970
This Is Larry Cunningham - Larry and the Country Blue Boys
Release Records - BRL.4009 - Unknown
Songs Fresh From Nashville - Larry and the Country Blue Boys
Release Records - Unknown - 1972
Larry Cunningham In Concert - Larry and the Country Blue Boys
Release Records - BRL.4036 - 1973
Tribute To Jim Reeves - Larry and the Country Blue Boys
Release Records - Unknown - 1974
Come Back To Erin - Larry and the Country Blue Boys
Harp Records - HPE.629 - 1980

Audio Clips

Coming Soon

Where Are They Now?   (More to come)

Larry Cunningham - RIP: Larry would continue to entertain Irish audiences in cabaret, concerts, on record and television for the next forty years. Sadly, he passed away on 28th September, 2012. He will be missed by his family, friends and fans around the world. He was one of the truly great entertainers of the showband era and became a legend of the Irish music scene.
Mike Bryan-RIP: One of the four members of the Fairways who formed the foundation of the Blue Boys when Larry broke away from the Mighty Avons, Mike sadly passed away on 25th April, 1970, only five months after the band played its first gig.
  Ollie Kennedy:
  Terry Reynolds:
  Aidan Cunningham:
  Pat Cleary-RIP: Pat sadly passed away 16th October, 2009.
Bobby Clarke - RIP:
  Tony Treacy:
  Mike Kane:

 

 


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