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Brian "Red" Hurley

Bands: Colours Wheels Nevada Red Hurley Band Solo

Brian "Red" Hurley started on the scene in the late 1960's but burst into stardom as the front man with The Nevada in 1971. He had just replaced Roly Daniels who left the band to pursue a career in country music and owned the early and mid 1970's as the premier male vocalist in Ireland. In fact, all but a few of Red's singles made the Irish Charts, a rare feat for any Irish artist.  

Red started his singing career in 1969 as the very young lead vocalist with The Colours. The band was formed when the Jackpots Showband changed their name. The band had featured Jack Cooke as its lead singer who, it was reported in the May 3rd issue of Spotlight, had emigrated to Canada. Also joining the band was Bill Ward on trumpet. The band came together around May of 1969 and Red cut his first record and had his first chart hit with A Poor Man's Roses (no. 14). From an issue of Spotlight from 28th June, an article publicizing Red's first single mentioned that the Colour's lineup included Brian and Bill Ward on trumpet, although in August another article said Brian was no longer with the band.

When the Colours were featured in the August 16, 1969 issue of Spotlight, it described Red as a former opera singer who also played drums. In fact, Red had previously sung with the Dublin Grand Opera Society. The article also stated that Red would have been in a band much earlier, but he had been seriously injured in a road accident. 

In November, 1969 an article in Spotlight announced the formation of a new band by the Tom Costello Organization, The Wheels. Fronting the band would be Red, along with members of the Airchords and the group Magazine. From the Airchords came Dermot Ryan (sax), Arthur O'Neill (sax), Emmet Wynne (trumpet), Myles Mooney (guitar) and Johnny Browne (bass). From Magazine came Des Hickey (guitar) and Johnny (or Denis) O'Neill (drums). With Wheels, Red released a few more singles including, Isadora and Take Me Tonight, both of which caused a minor stir on the scene and made it into the lower reaches of the Irish Charts. Around this time, Red and the band also took top honours in the Castlebar Song Contest with their song, The World Is Such An Empty Place.

In late 1970, Liam Hurley left the Airchords to join The Nevada Showband. A few months later, when Roly Daniels left the band, Liam suggested his brother, Red, and together with "The Blonde Bombshell," Eileen "Kelly," Red Hurley and the Nevada took the country by storm. The announcement that Red was leaving the Wheels to join the Nevada came in the March 6, 1971 issue of Spotlight. After Red left the Wheels, Johnny Brown also left for the new Billy Brown Superband. Before joining the Nevada, Red had been selected to sing one of the entries in the Irish National Song Contest, Going Away. He finished second to Angela Farrell's song, One Day Love, and although the record didn't make the charts, the experience helped establish him as one of the country's top vocalists.

Former band member, Tommy Hayden took over the band's management and the Nevada dominated all the polls for top Pop Band and vocalists in the early 70's.

The same year (1971) Red had two major hits with the Nevada, the number one hit, Sometimes in the summer of that year and Kiss Me Goodbye which hit the charts just before Christmas. This success would continue in 1972 as the band swept the top spots in the Spotlight Awards winning for top male vocalist, female vocalist and top band. In the late spring, Red released Hold Me which went to number 3 in the Irish charts. The same year, the band was the subject of a BBC documentary called The Best Years Of Our Lives. 1973 was a good year for Red as his recording of Arkansas reached number one in the Irish charts and the band went from strength to strength.

Rumours of Red's unhappiness with the Nevada started to surface in early 1974. Despite the success of the band, Red wanted out and in various Spotlight articles around this time, he said that he had wanted to leave the band at Easter, 1974. He was unhappy with the band's image, as well as his financial standing as he was "an employee" of the band. He went to the United States to be with his girl friend for three weeks and this added fuel to the rumours of his departure. It was reported that when he returned from the States, he offered to stay with the band, but they did not take him up on the offer and Glen Curtin was lured away from the New Blues to replace Red in the Nevada. Red spent nearly three months off the road while his involvement with the Nevada was finalized and in August, 1974 he hit the road with his new band which was advertised as Red Hurley and his All Stars.

Within weeks of Red's departure, Kelly also left the Nevada to join Brendan Bowyer's Big Eight in Las Vegas. Red found top class musicians to back him including several members of the Sands showband, who were undergoing major personnel changes at the time. He was also joined by his brother Liam, yet again, who eventually quit to focus on production work. Red and the band were instantly successful on the ballroom circuit and Red continued his dominance as one of the top male vocalists in the country. The lineup of the new band included Maurice Cooney (bass-from Green County), Fran Dennis (trombone from Dickie's Band),  

In 1976, Red hit the jackpot when his song, When was chosen to represent Ireland in the Eurovision song contest. Although Red finished tenth, his performance was considered one of the best of the evening and many have said he would have done far better, but the contest was going through a period when up tempo pop numbers seemed to carry the day. The contest was won by Britain's Brotherhood of Man with their song, Save Your Kisses for Me.

As the seventies came to a close, things started to change on the ballroom scene. Country music broke to the front of the pack and solo artists like Red started to lose a little of their luster on the dance circuit and began turning to cabaret and increasingly touring abroad, especially England, where they could still pack them in.

Despite this, in an interview published in Starlight Magazine in May 1979, Red was asked about moving into television, to which he responded, "my main bread and butter is the ballrooms, with a little cabaret as well, so I won't be breaking with that." Little did Red (or anyone) know that within a few short years the tables would be completely reversed. Also in 1979, Red hooked up with another ex-Nevada star, Tina Reynolds, to sing Hiding Behind Our Smile for the Irish National Song Contest, but they finished a disappointing eighth. Happy Man for Cathal Dunne was the winner that year.

The early 1980's were a period of great transition for Red, as well as many other showband stars. With discos taking over the dancing scene, many bands folded, but not Red. Like Dickie Rock, as the band scene slipped away, Red comfortably moved to cabaret where he was able to keep his career going strong.

He is still very active on the entertainment scene today and plays regular gigs both at home and abroad. He also plays regularly in charity golf tournaments both in Ireland and the United States. The picture above is Red at one such event in 2004. Red now spends part of his year in the United States where he also has a home and in 2007. he did a special with PBS which will saw him starring in his own show and appearing on the network on St. Patrick's Day and repeated later in the year. He also recently appeared on the Late late Show with Pat Kenny and is still going strong after almost forty years on the scene.  

Photo Gallery

Red Hurley & Wheels (DD) Red Hurley & Wheels - 1970 Red Hurley, Kelly &
The Nevada - 1974
The Nevada - 1974 The Nevada - 1974
Red Hurley and his Band Red Hurley & His Band  - 1974 (DL) Red Hurley - 1975 Red Hurley - 1978 Red Hurley Band (PH)
Red Hurley (PH) Red Hurley - 1978 (PH) Red Hurley - 1978 (PH) December, 1970 Red Hurley (KS)
     
Colours - 1969 Red  - 1969 Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon
Years Vocals Guitar Bass Drums Keys/Gtr/Vcl Trumpet Sax Trmbn/Sax

Colours

1969 Red
Hurley
Robert
Moore
Mick
Gill
John
Kavanagh
  Bill
Ward-RIP
Eamonn
Cooke
John
Fitzpatrick

Wheels

1970 Red
Hurley
Des
Hickey
Johnny
Brown
Dennis
O'Neill
Myles
Mooney
Emmet
Wynne
Arthur
O'Neill
Dermot
Ryan

Nevada

1972 Red
Hurley
Liam
Hurley
Jim
O'Connor
Pete
Hayden
Eileen
Kelly
Willie
Walsh
Bunty
Hayden
Val
Kearney

Red Hurley Band

June
1974
Red
Hurley
Perky
Boggins
Maurice
Cooney
Martin
McIlroy
Arthur
Madden
Gerry
Mulryan
Neilie
Gildea
Fran
Dennis
Aug
1975
Red
Hurley
Perky
Boggins
Unknown Martin
McIlroy
Liam (Gtr)
Hurley
Gerry
Mulryan
Neilie
Gildea
Fran
Dennis
                 

Discography through 1990:

Singles:

A Poor Man's Roses / I Didn't Even Know (with The Colours) - #14 Irish Charts
Target Records - 7N.17771 - June, 1969
Isadora / Amigos (with the Wheels) - #14 Irish Charts
Target Records - May, 1970
Take Me Tonight / Let's Get Started (with the Wheels) - #20 Irish Charts
Target Records - 7N.17982 - September, 1970
Going Away (with the Nevada)
Play Records - March, 1971
Sometimes / I'll Be Home (with the Nevada) - #1 Irish Charts

Play Records - PLAY 03 - July, 1971
Kiss Me Goodbye / Bring Back The Good Times (with the Nevada) - #1 Irish Charts
Play Records - PLAY 06 - Oct, 1971
Hold Me / Trudy (with the Nevada) - #3 Irish Charts
Play Records - PLAY 19 - April, 1972
Arkansas / Hold Me Just One More Time (with the Nevada) - #2 Irish Charts
Play Records - PLAY 53 - Feb, 1973
I Never Said Goodbye / Id Like To Teach You (with the Nevada) - #5 Irish Charts
Play Records - PLAY 63 - August, 1973

Solo:

I Know - #5 Irish Charts
Release Records - RL 741 - 1974
Love Is All
- #1 Irish Charts
Release Records - RL 766 - 1975
Broken Promises
- #1 Irish Charts
Release Records - January, 1976
When - Irish Eurovision Entry for 1976
- #4 Irish Charts
PYE Records - 7N.45583 - March, 1976
Tennessee Special / Morea
- #3 Irish Charts
EMI/Red Bus Records - EMI 2527 - September, 1976
Listen to the Children / Just A Little Love
EMI/Red Bus Records - EMI 2575 - December, 1966
In Shame Love, In Shame
- #3 Irish Charts
Release Records - February, 1977
You're My Day, You're My Night / Morena
- #2 Irish Charts
Release Records - RL.878 - July, 1977
You Don't Have To Say You Love Me
- #5 Irish Charts
Release Records - May, 1978
You're So Good To Me / Steppin' Aside
- #9 Irish Charts
Spider Records - February, 1979
The Furey Man
- #6 Irish Charts
Spider Records - November, 1979
I Want To Live With You
/ Perfect Love - #29 Irish Charts
Spider Records - WEB 036 - January, 1981
Hey / Cut Across Shorty
- #15 Irish Charts
Crashed Records - CAR 38 - February, 1983
Danny
- #15 Irish Charts
Crashed Records - CAR  - September, 1983
Warm
Crashed Records - CAR 65 - 1984
I Believe I'm Going To Love You
- #21 Irish Charts
Dolphin Records - DOS  - June, 1985
Let The Heartaches Begin
- #20 Irish Charts
Dolphin Records - DOS  - June, 1987
For Always
- #19 Irish Charts
Dolphin Records - DOS  - April, 1989

Albums:

Best of Red Hurley
Play Records - PLAY 1002 - 1971
Hits
Release Records - May, 1975
Irish Startime Red Hurley
Release Records - IST 4443 - 1978
Sincerely
HARP Records - HPE 626 - 1980
 


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