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The Times (1968-1982)

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

The Story

In 1964, two brothers, Joe and Ben Dolan, put together a band that would help shape Irish pop music for the next decade and beyond. The brothers knew they could make a go of music and quit their day jobs (Ben as a carpenter and Joe as a compositor) and formed The Drifters in 1964 with Ben on Sax and Joe as guitarist and lead singer. The other members of the band were: Sid Aughey (drums), Jimmy Horan (bass), Tommy Swarbrigg (trumpet), Joey Gilheaney (trombone), and Des Doherty (keyboards). The band's first record was an an old Del Shannon song, "The Answer To Everything," which went to No. 4 in the Irish Charts.  

The story of Joe Dolan is well known and documented on this site on our feature on The Drifters, but this is the story of the "other" five lads in the band. For almost five years, The Drifters Showband enjoyed enormous success on the Irish charts and in the ballrooms. Joe Dolan (still the band's guitarist) was enjoying a fast rise to the top of the Irish entertainment scene in the mid sixties.      

However, it was at a point when the band was possibly at it's highest point in the sixties, that the five "non-Dolan" members decided it was time to break away and strike out on their own. Although it might seem strange looking back for a band to split up at the height of it's popularity, it was not uncommon on the showband scene. Defections were numerous as bands struggled to find their identity. The Miami parted company with Dickie Rock, Brendan Bowyer and Tom Dunphy left the Royal Showband to form the Big 8, Joe McCarthy and Brendan O'Brien left the Dixies to form Stage 2, Billy Brown defected from the Freshmen to form Brown and O'Brien, Brian Coll split from the Plattermen, and the list went on and on. 

Perhaps the greatest influence on these breakups was the perceived "aging" of the showband stars. Many of the singers who were on the road in the early sixties, like Bowyer, Dolan and Rock were beginning to look "old" to a new generation of dancers that flocked to the halls in the late sixties. These dancers had grown up watching the Beatles shed their suits and embrace flower power and showbands that strutted the stage in matching suits wasn't cutting it any more. It was also at this time that the big "split" in the showband scene was occurring. Previous bands had played everything and been all things to all people, but as the sixties closed, more and more bands were declaring themselves as either pop or country outfits. Strangely enough, it would be the country bands that won out in the end, but that's another story.           

It was in mid 1968, that Tommy Swarbrigg and the younger members of the band decided it was time for a change in direction and they left the Drifters to form The Times. Since the five musicians had been playing together for so long, all they needed were replacements for Joe and Ben and they were ready to hit the road. Tommy contacted his brother, Jimmy, who was living in London, and he returned to front the new pop band, leaving Joe and Ben alone. To round out the new lineup, they recruited Sean Kenny on guitar (he had previously been with the Hi-Lows) and Gene Bannon (from the Millionaires showband) on sax and hit the road without missing a beat.

The band played their first gig in the Ierne Ballroom in Dublin  on Saturday, August 17th. In an interview in the August 24th issue of Spotlight, Tommy accepted that many people blamed the breakaway members of the Drifters for causing the split. He added, "there was also the question of finance. We felt that we should be getting a greater share of the money that was being made." The new outfit was managed by the Tom Costello Organization. However, it was reported in Spotlight on March 15th, 1969 that Greg Hughes would be taking over management of the Times.

Before long, Sid Aughey gave up playing the drums to take over managing the new band and was replaced by Micky O'Neill (who joined the Big 8 in 1971) and eventually Greg Donaghey. This would be the only change in the lineup for many years.

At first, the band was an average pop band, in Jimmy's words in a 1975 interview in Spotlight, "like everybody else, we brought out a few singles - cover versions of other people's hits. Well, they flopped so we thought: we've nothing to lose if we record some of our own songs and we felt it'd be more fun anyway." There first self penned release, Hitching to Miami which Jimmy said, "was based on Woodstock," got the band some notice and reached number 7 in the Irish charts. 

Soon, the Swarbrigg brothers began to distinguish themselves from the vast majority of bands in the country by writing their own material. They enjoyed a string of self penned hit records as the 70's progressed. In 1973 they had their own television show on RTE, which allowed the Swarbriggs to showcase their original songs. The band enjoyed a reputation, along with the likes of the Freshmen, of being one of the true "original" pop bands in Ireland. They also hooked up with British singing star, Hurricane Smith (Oh Babe, What Would You Say) as he helped produce several of their singles.  

As the popularity and the success of the Swarbriggs continued to grow, in the the tradition of the Irish showbands, the future of The Times became more and more in doubt. In 1975 the Swarbriggs represented Ireland in Eurovision with "That's What Friends Are For." In 1976, they came 5th in the Irish contest with "The Way of Love." In 1977, they won the Irish national Song Contest again with "It's Nice To Be In Love Again" as The Swarbriggs plus Two (Alma Carroll and Nicola Kerr). 

Finally, the Swarbriggs did decide to leave and took manager, Sid Aughey, with them. Also departing was guitarist Sean Kenny, who went with the Swarbriggs before eventually ending up with Sean O'Dowd and Dingaling in the early 80's. Interestingly enough, Joe Dolan's manager, Seamus Casey took over managing the band, bringing them into the same stable as their former band mates, Joe and Ben Dolan. The Swarbriggs continued to enjoy success with their own band, and actually changed their name to Winter in 1978 based on a recommendation by their label in England, EMI.

Meanwhile, The Times marched on, adding former Real McCoy member Eddie Campbell on guitar and vocalist Benny White out front. The lineup would be relatively should lived as Eddie was soon replaced by Vinnie Baker and Gene Bannon's sax was replaced by Paul Mitchell's trumpet. Vinny Baker had been with several name outfits before joining The Times and Benny and Vinny soon became the band's new songwriters, penning several successful singles over the next few years.

As the seventies came to a close, the Times made, perhaps their final major change, dropping brass from the lineup and adding a female vocalist, Maggie Maye, who joined them in April, 1980. Jimmy Horan and Des Doherty were the only remaining members of the original lineup and continued to carry on the band's name. However, the future for the band would be a short one as they were gone within two years.

We found the following passage at Vinny Baker's website:

"The Times split up in 1982 during the rapid decline in the Showband scene, brought about mainly by the onslaught of the Disco craze and the complete inability of ballroom owners to adapt to the changes which dance goers now demanded. Gone were the days when people were content to socialise in cold, damp, drab dance halls. And the disco bars and halls were mainly being run in the comfort of hotel ballrooms, which in general, were not much better than the dance halls around the country, but had plenty of dim lighting and flashing lights to disguise the dirt and drabness in them, so they completely obliterated the dance halls and in the space of a few years, the halls and ballrooms were closed and remain closed to this day."

So, as the industry shifted from ballrooms to hotels in the 80's, more bands dropped their numbers to five or six piece lineups, thus allowing them to continue to make money despite the dwindling opportunities in the industry. The Times finally called it quits in 1982.

In closing, the musicians who formed the Times played an important role in Irish popular music: first as the backing band that helped make Joe Dolan an international star. Then, as a fertile environment in which the talents of Tommy and Jimmy Swarbrigg flourished, bringing them to Eurovision. And finally on their own, making their living in the era that was The Showband Era.    

If you have any additional about the Times or its members, please email us.

Photo Gallery (click on thumbnail for full image)

Drifters Showband - 1964 (BS) The Drifters - 1967 The Times - 1968 Times - 1968 The Times - 1968
The Times - 1968 The Times - 1968 The Times - 1968 Tommy Swarbrigg-1968 The Times - 1968
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Times - 1968 The Times - 1968 The Times - 1968 The Times - 1968 The Times - 1968
The Times - 1968 The Times - 1968 The Times - 1968 Swarbriggs - 1968 The Times - 1968
The Times - 1968 The Times - 1968 The Times - 1969 The Times - 1969 The Times - 1969
The Times - 1969 The Times - 1969 The Times - 1969 The Times - 1969 The Times - 1969
The Times - 1969 The Times - 1969 The Times - 1969 The Times - 1969 The Times - 1969
The Times - 1969 The Times - 1969 The Times - 1969 The Times - 1969 The Times - 1969
The Times - 1969 The Times around 1970 (DD) The Times - 1970 The Times - 1970 The Times - 1970
The Times - 1970 The Times - 1970 The Times - 1970 Swarbriggs - 1970 The Times - 1970
The Times - 1970 The Times - 1970 The Times - 1971 The Times - 1971 The Times - 1971
Swarbriggs - 1971 Times - 1971 Times - 1971 Times - 1972 Times - 1972
Times - 1972 Times - 1973 Times Diary - Xmas 1973 The Times 1973 Times - 1973
Times - 1973 Times - 1974 The Times - 1975 The Times - 1975 Times - 1976

The Swarbriggs

The Times - 1978 The Times -1979 (PH) The Times - 1979 (PH) The Times - 1980
The Times - 1981 (PH) Times (PH) Times - 1974 Times (RF) Times (RF)
Times (RF) Times (RF) Times (RF) Times (RF) Times (RF)
Times (RF) Times (RF) Times (RF) Times (RF) Times (RF)
Times (RF) Times (RF) Times (RF) Times (RF) Times (RF)
         
Times (RF) Times (RF) Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon
         
Times (RF) Times (RF) Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon
Record Sleeves
   
The Times (JB) A - The Times - 1972 B - The Times - 1972 Coming Soon Coming Soon

Lineup Changes (as best we can determine)
 

Years Vocals Vocals Guitar Bass Drums Keyboards Trumpet Sax Trombone
68-71 Jimmy
Swarbrigg 
  Sean
Kenny
Jimmy
Horan
Sid
Aughey
Des
Doherty
Tommy
Swarbrigg
Gene
Bannon
Joey
Gilheaney
1971 Jimmy
Swarbrigg 
  Sean
Kenny
Jimmy
Horan
Mickey
O'Neill
Des
Doherty
Tommy
Swarbrigg
Gene
Bannon
Joey
Gilheaney
71-75 Jimmy
Swarbrigg 
  Sean
Kenny
Jimmy
Horan
Greg
Donaghey
Des
Doherty
Tommy
Swarbrigg
Gene
Bannon
Joey
Gilheaney
76-77 Benny
White
  Eddie
Campbell
Jimmy
Horan
Greg
Donaghey
Des
Doherty
  Gene
Bannon
Joey
Gilheaney
78-79 Benny
White
  Vinny
Baker
Jimmy
Horan
Greg
Donaghey
Des
Doherty
Paul
Mitchell
  Joey
Gilheaney
80-82 Benny
White
Maggie
Maye
Vinny
Baker
Jimmy
Horan
Greg
Donaghey
Des
Doherty
     

Discography:

What Made Milwaukee Famous / Follow The Times
Target Records - 7N.17647 - November, 1968
Dozie / Keep On Running Mary Ann - #9 Irish Charts
Dolphin Records - DOS 29 - April, 1969
Hitchin’ To Miami / Mad Dan The Rodeo Man - #7 Irish Charts
Dolphin Records - DOS 46- November, 1969
All I Want Is You / Saucy Susie
Parlophone Records - DIP.515 - Early 1970
Lookin Thru’ The Eyes Of A Beautiful Girl / Flyin’ High Feelin’ Low - #7 Irish Charts
Parlophone Records - R(1) 5855 - July, 1970
Isn’t It Nice / Smile A Tender Smile
Parlophone Records - DIP.519 - 1971
Freedom, Peace and Unity / If I Could Be With You - #12 Irish Charts
Parlophone Records - DIP.522 - March, 1972
The Entertainer / Diamond Lil - #4 Irish Charts
Parlophone Records - DIP.523 - September, 1972
When I Look Around Me/Smile A Tender Smile
Parlophone Records - R..5956 - 1972
It All Depends On You / I’m Gonna Get Married To Ann - #6 Irish Charts  
Parlophone Records - DIP.524 - April, 1973
Julie’s Rock’Roll / Keep Some Love For A Rainy Day - #20 Irish Charts
EMI Records - EMD 4009 - December, 1973
If Ma Could See Me Now / Hold On - #9 Irish Charts  
EMI Records - EMI 2178 - 1974
All I Ask Of You / Never Gonna Letcha
EMI Records - IEMI 5006 - 1974
Sexy Lady / Saturday Love - #17 Irish Charts
Release Records - RL. 816 - June, 1976 
Hold On / First Night Together - #6 Irish Charts
Release Records - RL. 839 - September, 1976 
Do Me Good / If It’s Love you Want
CBS Records - CBS 5757 - 1977
Man Overboard - #11 Irish Charts
Release Records - RL.870 - May, 1977
Rockin’ Times / Rock and Roll Physician   
Release Records - RL.915 - May, 1978
S.S. Rocker / Where In The World
Crashed Records - CAR 1 - November, 1978
Rain / Maria - #29 Irish Charts
Crashed Records - CAR  - August, 1979
Madman On The Loose / Rock n Roll Music
Crash Records - 1980
My Boy Lollipop - (Maggie May & The Times)   
Crashed Records - CAR 18 - March, 1982

Audio Clips

Coming Soon

Where Are They Now?   (More to come)

Jimmy Swarbrigg: More to come
Tommy Swarbrigg: Tommy and brother Jimmy left the Times and formed their own band which was initially called Winter, a name which did not stick. In 1975 the Swarbriggs represented Ireland in Eurovision with "That's What Friends Are For." In 1976, they came 5th in the Irish contest with "The Way of Love." In 1977, they won the Irish national Song Contest again with "It's Nice To Be In Love Again" as The Swarbriggs plus Two (Alma Carroll and Nicola Kerr). Today, Tommy has become one of the top music promoters in Ireland, and runs a variety of events including the Ronan Collins Showband Show which features many of the top performers of the showband era. 
Sean Kenny - RIP: Sean, who had been with the Jivenaires showband, left the Times when Jimmy and Tommy Swarbrigg departed to form The Swarbrigg's Band (also to be known as "Winter" for a short while). In the early 1980's he joined Shaun O'Dowd and Dingaling. Sean was playing the local pub scene and occasionally reunited with the Jivenaires up until his death on 9th February, 2011 after a long illness. Our sincere sympathies to his family and friends. .  
Jimmy Horan: Unknown - if you have info please email us 
Sid Aughey: Sid stayed on stage until around 1971 when he left to manage the band. He also managed the fortunes of the Swarbriggs Brothers through the late 1970's. Unknown - if you have info please email us 
Des Doherty: Des "Doc" Doherty, stayed with the band until it folded in the early 80's. In 2008, we know that he was part of the Tennessee Country Breakdown band which played regular gigs in the midlands, although we are unsure whether they are still going today. Unknown - if you have info please email us 
Gene Bannon: These days, Gene runs his own pub in Cootehill appropriately named Bannon's. He also plays regularly with his own jazz band, usually in the pub, but also for local functions and gigs across the region. If you have more info please email us 
Joey Gilheaney: Unknown - if you have info please email us 
Mickey O'Neill - RIP: Mickey once wrote us: I was looking at your website (Capitol Showband) and saw that you wanted updated info on me (Mickey O'Neill). I've lived in Las Vegas for the past 25 years and was the drummer with Brendan Bowyer's Royal Irish (known in Ireland as the Big Eight). I'm retired, but still play some gigs with Michael Keane, Jimmy Conway and D.J.Curtin (from the Big Eight and Kerry Blues). Mickey lives in Vegas with his longtime partner Mary Schwartz with his two sons Alan and Mark. Sadly Mickey lost his other son, Michael in 2005 as a result of a car accident at the age of 21. Further to this listing, Mickey sadly passed away on June 15, 2010. A friend to the site before his death, our sincere sympathies go out to his family and friends in Ireland and the USA. 
Greg Donaghey: Unknown - if you have info please email us 
Benny White: Around 1982, The Times called it quits and Benny tells us he took a break until 1986 when he formed a band with Jimmy Slevin, Greg Donaghy, and Jack Costello called Male Order and played for a short while until Jimmy moved to Germany. Jimmy and Benny had also been part of a recording group called Steal Moon before Male Order. They made two records, "The Mainstream" and "The Landlord." In the 1990's, Benny did a lot of gigging in the United States and Tenerife.  These days he plays the odd gig with Terry Merrick (Others) and Maxie McEvoy (Strangers) as well as doing some solo work.
Vinnie Baker - RIP: In 1982, Vinny quit the business and took a job in a factory and stopped playing guitar for about 4 years. He got back into playing when he started teaching his son and was soon into recording trying to have his own songs demo'd. The recording bug took Vinny and he was soon the owner of a new recording studio with a live recording room that doubles as a classroom to do guitar lessons in. He released his first solo album, 'So', in 2003 and he continued to play and record regularly with the Tennessee Country Breakdown Band, along with other groups throughout the Midlands and across the country until his death. Sadly, Vinnie died very suddenly on the 20th of July, 2013. Our sympathies are extended to his family and friends.  
Paul Mitchell: Unknown - if you have info please email us 
Maggie Maye: Unknown - if you have info please email us 

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