I first became interested in playing drums while in
secondary school. My Dad bought me my first kit, which I believe
was a Premier Kit. Later on I bought myself a kit of Ajax. Today I
still have my silver sparkle 1969 Ludwig Kit which my two sons, Rory
and Ryan are playing with their respective groups in our basement.
I always remember my school pal, John Swan, inviting me to his house
(he played piano) and he being amazed that whatever he played, I
could find the right beat. I have always maintained that to play
drums is a gift as we use all four limbs differently at the same
Eventually, my brother-in-law, Don King, regarded by
many as the leading double bass player in Ireland, working in
theatres and also playing with the Dublin City Concert Band,
introduced me to my first drum teacher, the late Freddie Reynolds
(father of the great Desi Reynolds. I spent a year with Freddie and
then move on to the John Murray School of Drumming. Desi Reynolds
and Noel Bridgeman were both in my class at that time. My first
group, “The Fugitives”, consisted of Paddy & Mike Moran and their
first cousin. I was introduced to the lads by their dad, Paddy Sr.,
whom I worked with at the Parks of the Coombe, a wholesale hardware
My next group was “The Difference” managed by Larry
Mooney. Our lead player Paul Keogh eventually went to England and
was featured on a compilation album of guitarists entitled “Guitars
Incorporated” put together by Hank Marvin of “The Shadows”. Larry
was a great friend with Jim Farley and it was through his
introduction that I played for one month with the Jim Farley Band
while his drummer was recovering from a slipped disk. Also in the
band at the time, where Roly Daniels, the late Danny Pearce, Michael
Kane, Liam Hurley and Danny Ellis. What a thrill that was!
Paul Holohan also from Inchicore, came to my house
and asked if I would like to join the Bye-laws which at the time
consisted of Jimmy Conway on lead guitar, Paul on bass guitar and
Morris Walsh on drums. The original Bye-laws consisted of Jimmy,
Paul, Willie O’Reilly on drums and Terry Young on rhythm guitar. As
Morris was such a great singer, the lads wanted him out front as
lead vocalist so I joined as their drummer. Morris was rather
ticked off with me after a gig one night claiming that I was trying
to steal the limelight from him. We all had our own individual
fans, but this did not seem to suit Morris so he left and a short
time later joined Joe Dolan’s band. With Morris, we had our first
single; the ‘A’ side being “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye” coupled
with “Come On Over To My Place”. Through a school friend of
Jimmy’s, we were introduced to Pat Morris, and after we heard him
perform at a school dance we hired him as our new lead vocalist.
Pat loves to tell the story of when he first met
Jimmy. He came to the door with a cup of tea in one hand and a
slice of bread and jam in the other. The difference being that
Jimmy always ate his bread and jam upside down always getting jam
all over his chin. I witness this myself many times on our travels.
Things really took off after Pat joined the band and we soon became
the number one pop group in Ireland (about 1967). At that time we
were awarded the “No. 1 Pop Group” by the Evening Harold Pop Poll
coming in ahead of “The Dubliners”. We were also featured in the
“Spotlight Magazine” Poll Winner’s Concert at Dublin’s National
We then released our first single with Pat singing
lead vocals called “Run, Baby, Run” and the “B” side featured Jimmy
singing “To Sir With Love”. Other recordings were on a compilation
album entitled “Paddy’s Dead and the Kids Know It”. Later in the
1980’s there was another CD compilation of the top beat groups of
our time, which also featured “Run, Baby, Run”, and a second song by
Jimmy called “Deep Water”.
In a period of one year we hired and fired seven
different managers. I only remember two of them, Jimmy Dunn and
Peter Bardon. The job always seemed to fall to me to do the firing
and I presume it was because I was the oldest member of the band.
Some of the clubs we played at was the “Go-Go Club”, “The Flamingo”,
“The 5 Club”, “The Zhivago Club”, “The Apartment”, “The Happening”,
“The C.I.E. Hall” and “Barry’s Hotel”. There was also some rugby
clubs and tennis clubs. On Sunday afternoons for the teen dances we
played at “The TV Club”, “The Ierne Ballroom” and “The Crystal
Ballroom”. We did not travel outside Dublin very much. There was
an odd time that we played the “Oslo Ballroom” in County Galway and
the “Franciscan Hall” in County Limerick. Our Volkswagen Mini Bus
turned over on an ice patch one night on our return from Limerick
but lucky enough we all escaped unhurt.
At the C.I.E. Hall one night so many fights broke out
that all the girls ended up on the stage with us. One of the
bouncers who was a Gárda, managed to get out and had the legendary
Sgt. Luggs Brannigan come to their aid. Luggs came in, walked
around the hall pointing at the culprits he knew too well and
ordered them out to the waiting paddywagon where he would have dealt
with them in his own inevitable way. I also recall a gig at a club
in Dublin where we almost lost Jimmy. He was testing his microphone
with one hand and his other hand on the guitar and was flung off the
stage across the dance floor. Thank God for Pat’s good sense who
ran and kicked the mike out of Jimmy’s hand, thus saving his life.
After a visit to a local hospital we went on and completed the gig.
One of my fondest memories was doing the Jimmy Saville walk out to
the Punchestown Race Track, playing along side all the top showbands.
As far as I can remember 30,000 screaming punters.
History would have been completely changed for us if
we had recorded “Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes” which we were
offered through Tom Doherty who managed Dickie Rock and the Miami
Showband. The writers of the song, McAuley and Mason, were to come
to Dublin to hear us play. At the last minute, however, plans
changed and they went to the USA instead. We were not able to get
in touch with them. A spot was booked for the song to be sung on
the “Top of the Pops” and at the last minute they got a group name
“Greenfield” who became “Edison Lighthouse” to sing this song and of
course it became a massive hit.
Now I come to our tour of Canada along with Maxi,
Dick & Twink in 1971. The tour that was initially booked for six
months became eight months. The group collectively became known as
“Toybox”. Mick Quinn and Dan McGratten were the managers
responsible for booking the tour. Pat Morris had a collapsed lung at
the time we were approached for the tour but thankfully he was well
enough to join us. The tour was a tremendous success as the bar
scene with live bands was relatively new in Canada at that time.
During that tour we met up with Muriel Day and her group “The Night
Squad” who had just come out and also “Dublin Corporation” formerly
the “The Pacific Showband”. I later joined Muriel’s band when I
emigrated to Canada in 1972. A week before we were to return to
Ireland Maxi and Dick left the group and when we got back we played
for a short while as “Twink and the Bye-laws”. We were quite
shocked to realize that after leaving Ireland as the number 1 pop
group we were almost forgotten, all in just a short eight months.
I regarded Pat, Paul and Jimmy as my brothers as we
were incredibly close so you can imagine the shock when Jimmy called
to my house to tell me that he and Twink had been asked to join
Brendan Bowyer’s “Big 8” Showband. Pat and I after a short while
formed a group called “Jessi” with Alan Cranny on lead guitar and
Mick Dunn on keyboards (former members of the The Mexicans Showband).
On bass guitar was Ernie Durcan. This group broke up when Alan,
Mick and Ernie joined “Stage Two”. I returned to Canada and joined
Muriel Day’s band. This lasted for nine months. I worked for a
short time in a booking agency booking Irish bands across Canada
with Bill Hogan from County Tipperary.
I then joined the Par 3, a country-Irish band from
the North of Ireland. Its members included Joe Rankin, Billy Davey,
and Jimmy Lynn. I was with this group for a total of 12 years
playing all across Canada and also had the pleasure of playing in
Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada. During that time we had several hits on
the country charts with “Two Lovely Blue Eyes” and “Seven Times Last
Week”. In 1989, as my wife was expecting our first son, I quit the
band and playing professionally. Since that time I work for the
City of Toronto. I live in Toronto with wife, Breeda and our two
Pat Morris also lives in Toronto with his wife,
Denise. He has two daughters and one grandchild. He works in sales
for a lighting company and does the odd gig with a keyboard player.
Back in 1987 Pat released a wonderful album entitled “Looking for a
Heartache”. Jimmy Conway lives with his wife Carmel in Las Vegas.
They have four children and four grandchildren. Jimmy, for a time,
managed the only Irish pub in Las Vegas. He still works there and
works the odd gig with Brendan Bowyer, D.J. Curtin and Michael Kane
all former members of The Big 8 Showband. Paul Holohan and his wife
Rosaleen have three sons and Paul is only one still living in
Ireland. He has had numerous day jobs but some years ago returned
to playing full time with a folk group called “Paddy’s Dream”. He
now plays with “Whiskey Still”.
In August of 2000 I had the great pleasure of
releasing my first contemporary gospel CD entitled “Walking Beside
Him” which was made up of eight original songs (written by me)
along with two standards. Mick Dunn & Alan Cranny arranged and
produced the songs for me. I am presently working on songs for a
Finally, I would like to say that I have been most
fortunate in seeing so many great places and meeting so many
wonderful people in my playing career.
Click on this
to hear tracks from Aiden's
"Walking Beside Him" CD
Buy Aidan's new CD
© Aidan Scannell
© Irish Showbands