The Story of the Clippertones by Tony
The Clippertones were once one of the most
popular showbands in the nation. In the mid-to-late fifties, the
county Armagh band, under the leadership of Keady singer Jim
Hughes (who specialised in monologues such as The Drunken
Driver) and with the likes of Christy Hughes playing a multitude
of instruments such as saxophone, trombone, trumpet, bass guitar
and drums, Jim Bann on bass, Joey Dean on drums plus Luke Byrne
on trumpet, the country and western-influenced Clippertones went
down a bomb everywhere they played.
Some others musicians who played in those
early Clippertones outfits were accordionist and bassist Brendan
Hughes, brother of leader Jim, alto saxophone player Seamus
McParland and his singing sister Eileen, ace guitarist Mickey
Doran, musical maestro Dick Barton, and the famous Tommy Makem,
who would later achieve world fame with the Clancy Brothers
traditional group. The Clippers disbanded in 1965 but reformed a
year later with the late Big Ivan on lead vocals.
The new band consisted of Dermot Mackin on
drums and vocals, Kevin McCamley on rhythm guitar, Tony Bagnall
on bass, Mickey Mathers on lead guitar, Seamus McParland on alto
sax, Liam Mathers on tenor sax and Angela O’Reilly on organ. Big
Ivan excelled on numbers such as Five Little Fingers and North
to Alaska while Dermot Mackin handled the pop songs of the day.
Mickey Mathers added to the band’s repertoire with instrumentals
such as the Shadow’s Dance On and he also did excellent guitar
versions of Buck’s Polka and Hawaiian Tattoo. Also Angela took
centre stage by singing songs such as the Seekers’ Morningtown
Ride and Single Girl by Sandy Posey.
At the end of the night the Clippertones
said goodbye to their audiences with their theme tune, Goodnight
Sweetheart, with saxophonists Seamus and Liam taking the
limelight. After the Clippertones broke up, Big Ivan made lots
of records and became a huge hit on the Irish scene. He will
always be remembered for the song he made his own, A Mother’s
Love’s a Blessing. Tragically, in 1973, the gentle giant was
killed in a car crash coming home from a gig.
reproduced courtesy of Tony Bagnall, author
of 'Do You Come Here Often?"