Bye-Laws Memories

by Aidan Scannell

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The Bye-Laws live on RTE television

The Bye-Laws leaving for Canada with Maxi, Dick & Twink

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 time.

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 store.

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 Stadium.

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 sons.

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 second CD.

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 LINK to hear tracks from Aiden's "Walking Beside Him" CD

Buy Aidan's new CD HERE!

© Aidan Scannell 2004

© Irish Showbands Archive 2004


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