Uptown Boys

by Tony Gannon

My name is Tony Gannon and I was exploring the history of Irish groups and bands etc, on the web, when I came across a few pictures on my old band -the Uptown band. I was a bass player, and that's me pictured with our guitar player Buddy Boland, at the bottom of the page, probably taken in 1969. I think one of Mojos girlfriends may have taken this in the Ierne Ballroom, Dublin. Prior to the Uptown band, I played bass in the "Difference" (Paul Keogh et al), and The Grass Band (with Pete Cummins.)

When my predecessor in the Uptown Band - Brush Sheils, left to form Skid Row with Phil Lyonnet, I took his place. My memory says that was about '67 /'68, not entirely sure. The final line up of the Uptown Band was - Mojo (organ), Pat Nash (drums), Buddy Boland (lead guitar) and myself on bass.

We, (Mojo and me) wrote a lot of original material and performed them on stage. Of course there was always talk of a record deal... unfortunately, it never happened. Groups were starting to learn that in order to 'make it', you had to go to England! Several groups had made records in Ireland - the Strangers, Orange Machine, and more, and so maybe it was some kind of mental inferiority, but England was the place. Of course, not so long afterwards, Thin Lizzy did just this and WHAM!

To get back to the story, apart from the original material, we also performed many numbers from the Doors, Motown, and that 'Fire' number which was quite something - explosives, fire and flames on stage. We also introduced Mickey Mouse on stage during 'rave' sessions, and Mojo having filled the mouse with ketchup and water, he stabbed the 'mouse' during one of our numbers - for effect. This was quite an experience - you can see why we were loved by some, and hated by others.

A bit like "The Who" on acid! We got a lot of attention when we did those types of numbers and we were banned from some places. We didn't care! The band received a lot of fan support. And there were many of those, not just girls who wanted to get off with our good looking drummer - Pat, but also guys who liked the solid rock numbers on stage, and loved the music.

We also started off the "flour and egg" war against the showbands - our sworn enemies. We would 'ambush' their vans at strategic points (Portlaoise for instance) and blast them. It was quite the time, made the headlines too in the Evening Herald and Spotlight magazine. I remember that some bands took it very well - Jim Farley Band, The Drifters, The Dixies (they were mad!), however, the more conservative ones were a pain - the Miami and Dickie for example. We were also 'hit' from time to time. But it took the drudgery out of travelling.

One of the originals numbers we wrote was the theme for RTE's "Like Now" TV show. It was recorded in the old Eamon Andrews studios in Mary Street, Dublin, and we were all very drunk during the recording, including our illustrious manager - Larry Mooney, now deceased. I remember lying on the floor of the studios, playing away on my Fender bass guitar to the thump, thump, thump, of the number. But it was fun! The recording engineer was a guy called Bill Somerville-Large, you could tell he hated the band.

We appeared on television many times on the "Like Now" show, Danny Hughes was the presenter. It was a good idea, pity about the camera-work! We were also 'big' in Belfast - topping the bill on many occasions at ballrooms, clubs and bars. However, we suffered a death blow when most of our equipment was stolen in Belfast after a gig, that was in May or June of '69. I remember that Pat was very upset (so was I), we owed a lot of money on the gear. We never recovered from that. I lost a cherry-red Gibson solid bass - has anyone seen it yet?

I went to the US in July '69 for 6 months to try and make some money, and when I returned the band had broken up. The only person I ever heard from was Mojo, but the hurt was too big to get over, so we never re-formed.

In 1970, I joined Charley Murphy's band at his new night club - "Good Time Charly's" in O'Connell street, Dublin. I know that Pat Nash played for a while in the re-formed Granny's Intentions with Johnny Duhan and a close friend,  Pete Cummins. I had played years before with Pete in the Grass Band, with Sid Gray (drums), Alan Cullen on guitar and sax. That was a fun 'pop' band and we made lots of money doing regular gigs at the Apartment Club, in Middle Abbey Street.

As I said, now I live in Florida and work in the space business. Occasionally I pick up my old Spanish guitar and sing a few lines of "Come on baby light my fire". I enjoyed it all.

Tony Gannon

  Tony Gannon 2004

   Irish Showbands Archive 2004

Back to Homepage                                      More Tall Tales!

francis kennedy 2004