Derrick & The Sounds (1965-1974)
Photo Gallery -
Band Lineups -
- Audio samples -
Where Are They Now?
The story of the Sounds starts
around 1959 or 1960 when Derrick Mehaffey (keyboards), Richard
McCracken (guitar) and Mervyn Martin (drums) met in school at the Omagh
Academy. They became fast friends and formed a skiffle group (as
most musicians did in those early days). They soon changed their
name to The Strollers and added Richard Sharpe on bass and Ray Gourley on guitar. Now a five piece, the boys had little success but
continued to struggle on.
Around 1965 they added Richard's
brother Ralph Lyons (sax) to the lineup and became a fully
fledged six piece "showband," changing their name to Sounds
Anonymous. A little later they would add Richard's brother Bill
McCracken (sax) to expand to seven. The band was going done well,
especially with the younger dancers and they started to attract the
attention of promoters. One in particular, Bobby Platt, who ran the
Strand Ballroom, Portstewart and the Limavady Agricultural Hall, was
convinced the boys had the potential to make a go of it on the
ballroom circuit, although they were still just a semi-pro band.
In August, 1965, the boys
approached Bobby to help with their management and he agreed.
Watching the band, it had become obvious to Bobby that Derrick was attracting the most attention from the punters
(especially the girls) and he was soon the front man. Around this
time, John Wilson
(formerly with Van Morrison's Them) joined the band on drums, replacing Mervyn and the band changed its
name to Derrick and The Sounds. It was reported that Jimmy
O'Neill was hired as the band's musical director (a somewhat unusual
move for the time as most MD's were members of the band). He started
traveling with the band on a regular basis and they improved in
leaps and bounds.
Under Bobby's watchful eye, the
band started to enlarge it's touring area, first across the North
and into areas like Donegal, but as they were still going to school,
longer trips were out of the question. During holidays, the boys
finally took the plunge and headed South to Cork and Killarney. They
were going down so well, it was hard to ignore the pull to turn
A final meeting was arranged and
it was decided the band would go off the road in June, 1966 to allow
the lads to do their final exams and they would turn professional on
September 1st, 1966, which they did and never looked back. Although
at the time, a single was the next order of business, Derrick
remarked that they were in no hurry release something "just to put
out a record." It would be some time before they did.
In January, 1968, Richard
McCracken and John Wilson left the band. According to Pat Egan in
his Beat column, the lads joined with Roy Abbott (guitar) and Nicko
Hallewell of the Interns to form a new lineup using the name
Interns. Further research has shown we think this band became
Cheese but within a few months (May, 1968), Richard (switching to
bass) and John joined the second version of Rory Gallagher's Taste.
At this point the band was being managed by Jim Doherty.
John Murphy replaced Richard on
guitar and Seamus Caulfield took over on drums, however we know that
Vic McNamara also drummed with the band, but possibly just stood in
for a short time.
For the next five years, the band
enjoyed great success, especially in the North where they were
considered one of the top bands in the country. Although less
successful across the border in the South, they did good business.
Finally, in November 1968, the band released their first single, Power of Love, which barely
cracked the Irish charts reaching the number 20 spot for a single
week. It would be their only chart success.
In early 1969 manager, Jim Doherty
announced that the band had a deal for a record and a tour of the
United States in March. The details included word of "national
promotion" for the single, an original by Melody Aces's guitarist,
Ray Doherty. We have no idea whether there actually was a tour or if
it was just a publicity stunt (one used by many showbands in the
60's and 70's) but we do know Power of Lover was never a hit in the
USA for the Sounds.
Several more singles would follow
including My Sly Sadie, Morning Paper and Margarine and Needing You,
but none of them would have any impact on the charts.
At the end of 1970, after six years
on the road, Derrick received an offer from John Gilligan to go to
Canada. He spent a couple of years singing with the resident band in the
Maple Leaf ballroom.
In September, 1972, Derrick returned to
Ireland to take over the lead singing job with the waning Royal
Showband (he would be their last lead singer). The Ropyal struggled
on for a couple of years but by May, 1974 Derrick was fronting the
Conquerors Showband who changed their name temporarily to Derrick's
Manwhile, despite losing their lead singer,
the Sounds decided to carry on as a six piece and became Malachy and the
Sounds with Malachy Kearns stepping out front as well as playing
the sax. The band toured Canada, which had become all the rage with
the showbands in the early 70's. We also know that Damien Given left
the band around April 1971 to take a job with the new country
outfit, The Tallmen which was being put together around Hugo Duncan.
He joined several ex members of the Buckaroos in the new band. We do
not know who replaced him.
We cannot be sure, but it was
sometime around 1973 that the band called it quits. We will research
more to find out details. We do know that several members
ended up in other bands. More to come....
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