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Sonny Knowles Feature

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

The Story

The story of the Pacific Showband mirrors the story of the Showband era in many ways. They were formed in the early 1960's when several members of the Earl Gill Orchestra left to form their own "showband." Earl's band had been very much an "orchestra" in the classic sense, featuring a large brass section with musician's seated behind music stands "reading the dots."

The Carlton Clipper had already started the trend towards bands standing up and moving to the music and the Pacific followed suit. The original band included: Sonny Knowles (sax), Shay Curran (trombone), Sean Fagan (vocals), Jimmy Dumpleton (guitar), Marty Fanning (drums), Freddie Martin (trumpet) and Harry Parker (bass).

Sonny had started his career in 1952 as a member of the Johnny Butler Dance band, playing sax and clarinet. and ended up with Earl's band. Sean Fagan was the lead vocalist, but as with all the showbands, most of the members sang as well with different singers handling different genres with the band. Although Sonny was mainly the sax player, he also sang and was soon sharing equal billing and recording chores with Sean.

The band's first hit came in 1964 when they released She Wears My Ring which went to number three in the Irish charts. In fact, the band's first four singles all cracked the top ten, making them one of the more successful recording bands of the era. Vocals chores were shared with Sean singing the first two releases and Sonny the next two.

In an RTE interview in 2008, Sonny said the Pacific was "a great Northern Ireland band....but when we would go down around Cork, we might be emptied very easily by the local band." This was really the case with most band who seemed to go down well in certain parts of the country but not in others. 

In 1966, the band had its first lineup charge when guitarist Jimmy Dumpleton was replaced by Paul Keogh, although this was just the first of several major changes the band would face in the next 24 months. In mid 1967, several members of the Miami broke away and formed the Sands with a very young Tony Kenny taking leads vocals, along with several new young members of Dublin groups.

The Pacific could see the problem coming as did most of the early 60's showbands. Musicians who had started out in the teens and twenties were now reaching their early to mid thirties. Additionally, the "new" pop of the Beatles and the Summer of Love (not to mention the hippies) was washing over the Irish entertainment landscape. Bands like the Clipper Carlton and Pacific had to change, or risk being passed off as over the hill.

In the Spotlight magazine dated 16th March, 1968, the announcement came that the Pacific were breaking up. Sonny joined Dermot O'Brien's Clubmen, however, by May, the Clubmen (without Dermot or Sonny) would announce they were revamping themselves as a pop band.

As for the Pacific, the future of the rest of the band was unclear and, in fact, no replacement for Sonny was announced. The band, with Sonny, played their last gig on St. Patrick's night. The following week (March 23, 1968), Spotlight magazine included a short feature on the new release from Peter Law (real name Peter Lawlor) called The Long Black Veil along with a two page feature on the singer's new spot with the Pacific. Sean Fagan, Shay Curran, Harry Parker, recent addition, Paul Keogh and Marty Fanning remained and were joined by Jimmy Malone (sax) and Austin Halpin (trumpet) becoming an eight piece. .

The band hit the road in April 1968 after a month's rehearsal as the "New Pacific" and Peter got a lot of publicity over the first few months, including the cover of Spotlight, which was normally reserved for the "big stars" of the day. For most of the year, the band remained relatively stable, playing gigs around the country, but not releasing any records. Finally in late 1968, the band released My Lovely Rose and You featuring Sean Fagan. The record was Sean's first chart success in four years and reached number 7 in the Irish charts.

According to an interview in October, 1972, Sonny played with Dermot O'Brien's Clubmen for two years, and in early mid 1970, he went out on his own...literally. Sonny managed his own affairs and started doing cabaret gigs and he went back into doing session work. He was  tired of life on the road. Said Sonny in an October, 1970 interview in Spotlight, "The normal dashing to the country and back in the one night is out. I no longer want that."

We received and email and some great pictures from Sonny's 80th birthday in late October, 2012 which he celebrated with 1,000 family and friends in the Regency Hotel. A couple of the pictures are below.       

More to come.....    

Photo Gallery

click on thumbnails for full image

Sonny Knowles-50's The Pacific (SM) Pacific Showband (BS) Sonny Knowles-
Pacific Showband
Pacific Showband (LR)
Pacific Showband (LR) Pacific Showband (JB) Sonny Knowles and Sean Fagan (LR) Sean Fagan & Sonny Knowles - 1966 Pacific Showband (BF)
Pacific Showband (PB) Pacific - 1967 Pacific Showband Sean Fagan - 1967 Peter Law - 1968
May, 1968 Peter Law (DD) Pacific Showband Pacific (LR) Peter Law - 1968
New Pacific - 1968 Pacific Showband New Pacific - 1968 Peter Law - 1968 New Pacific - 1968
Peter Law - 1968 New Pacific - 1968 Sean Fagan - late 1968 Peter Law - 1969 Peter Law - 1969
Advert - June, 1969


Sonny's 80th B-Day (LC) Sonny's 80th B-Day (LC) Coming Soon
Years Vocals Sax/Vocals Guitar Bass Drums Trumpet Trombone Sax
1962 Sean
1966 Sean
1968 Sean


Pacific Showband

She Wears My Ring / Stand Beside Me (featuring Sean Fagan) - #3 Irish Charts
Pye Records - 7N.15675 - August, 1964
Distant Drums /
Photograph To The Wall (featuring Sean Fagan) - #5 Irish Charts
Pye Records - 7N.15728 - November, 1964
No One Will Ever Know / If You Knew (featuring Sonny Knowles)
- #5 Irish Charts
Pye Record - 7N.15780 - February, 1965
What's The Use
/ Do What I Want You To (featuring Sean Fagan)
Pye Records - 7N.15822 - May, 1965
We Could / When The Swallows Come Back to Capistrano (featuring Sonny Knowles) - #6 Irish Charts
Pye Records - 7N.15903 - June, 1965
This Time / Just To Satisfy You (featuring Sean Fagan)
Pye Records - 7N.17002 - October, 1965
No One Knows / Menace from Ennis (featuring Sonny Knowles) - #3 Irish Charts
Pye Records - 7N.17115 - May, 1966
I Only Came To Dance With You / Sleepless Nights (featuring Sonny & Sean)
Pye Records - 7N.17165 - August, 1966
The Dublin Fusiliers / Edelweiss (featuring Sonny Knowles)
Pye Records - 7N.17226 - January, 1967
For He's A Jolly Good Fellow / She Still Thinks I Care (featuring Sean Fagan)
Tribune Records - TRS.106 - July, 1967
My Jenny / Since  Don't Have You (featuring Sean Fagan)
Tribune Records - TRS.110 - September, 1967
My Lovely Rose and You / 'll Remember You (featuring Sean Fagan) - #7 Irish Charts
Tribune Records - TRS.124 - December, 1968

Solo Artist

Tell Me
Rex Records - R.11055 - April, 1970
I'll Take Care of Your Cares
Rex Records - R.11060 - September, 1970
The World Is Such An Empty Place
Rex Records - R.11065 - June, 1971
Do I Love You
Rex Records - R.11077- June, 1972
Music From Across The Way - #2 Irish Charts
Rex Records - Unknown - November, 1973
Not That I Care - #14 Irish Charts
Rex Records - Unknown - December, 1974


The Wind In My Hands
Rex Records - RPS.105 - August, 1972
Rex Records - Unknown - April, 1975

More to come...

Audio Clips

Coming Soon

Where Are They Now?  

Sonny Knowles: Sonny left the band in 1968 and joined Dermot O'Brien's Clubmen for two years. He later pursued a solo career on the growing cabaret circuit and became one of Ireland's most enduring entertainers. In the 2000's Sonny faced two bouts of cancer (prostrate and ashophyen) and survived both, releasing a best selling collection of his greatest hits in 2007. Sonny celebrated his 80th birthday with a large group of family and friends in late October,
Sean Fagan:   If you know more, please let us know.
Jimmy Dumpleton:   If you know more, please let us know.
Harry Parker:   If you know more, please let us know.
Marty Fanning:   If you know more, please let us know.
Freddie Martin:   If you know more, please let us know.
Shay Curran:   If you know more, please let us know.
Paul Keogh:   If you know more, please let us know.
Peter Law:  If you know more, please let us know.
Austin Halpin:   If you know more, please let us know.
Jimmy Malone:   If you know more, please let us know.






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