The Miami Showband
|The Miami Showband|
The Miami Showband lineup in early 1975
L-R: Tony Geraghty, Fran O'Toole, Ray Millar, Des Lee, Brian McCoy, Stephen Travers
Intermittent later reunions
|Associated acts||Dickie Rock|
The Miami Showband were one of the most successful and popular showbands in Ireland in the 1960s and 1970s. Led at first by singer Dickie Rock, and later by Fran O'Toole, they had seven number one records on the Irish singles chart. In 1975, when returning from a performance in Banbridge, County Down, Northern Ireland, three members of the band, Fran O'Toole, Tony Geraghty, and Brian McCoy, were killed in what became known as the "Miami Showband massacre".
The band was established in Dublin in 1962 by impresario Tom Doherty. He recruited an existing group, the Downbeats Quartet, comprising Joe Tyrell (piano), Tony Bogan (drums), Clem Quinn (guitar), and Martin Phelan (saxophone), and augmented them with singer Dickie Rock (at the time, a member of another group, the Melochords), trumpeter Tommy O'Rourke, trombonist and vocalist Murty Quinn, and bass player Denis Murray. The group's first engagement was at the Palm Beach Ballroom in Portmarnock, and so they were named the Miami Showband. They rapidly became one of the top showbands in the country, and their first single, a version of the Elvis Presley album track "There's Always Me" reached number one in the Irish charts in December 1963. They had four further number one hits over the next two years: "I'm Yours" and "From the Candy Store on the Corner" (both 1964), and "Every Step of the Way" and "Wishing It Was You" (both 1965). "Every Step of the Way" was the first song by an Irish artist to go straight in as a number one single in the Irish charts. In 1966, they were chosen to sing Ireland's entry in the Eurovision Song Contest, and their song "Come Back To Stay" also reached the top of the charts. They also appeared on British TV, on Sunday Night at the London Palladium and Thank Your Lucky Stars.
In 1967, four members of the band—Murty Quinn, Tommy O'Rourke, Denis Murray and Martin Phelan—split away to form their own group, The Sands. They were replaced by songwriter and singer Fran O'Toole, Paul Ashford, Pat McCarthy, Des Lee (born Des McAlea) and Brian McCoy. The group's final number one came with "Simon Says" (a version of the 1910 Fruitgum Company song) in 1968. McCarthy and Tony Bogan later left, and were replaced by Danny Ellis and Martin Brannigan. The group released an album, The Wind Will Change Tomorrow, in 1970. In 1972, the group had another major change, when Dickie Rock left to front his own band, and was replaced in the Miami Showband at first by brothers Frankie and Johnny Simon and then, briefly, by Billy Mac (born Billy MacDonald). Following the sacking of Mick Roche (Billy Mac's replacement) in 1974, Fran O'Toole fronted the band, the group often being billed as Fran O'Toole and the Miami. The album Miami Country was released in 1973. Line-up changes continued, and by 1975 the last remaining member of the original line-up, Clem Quinn, had left. The group then comprised Des Lee, Brian McCoy, Tony Geraghty, Fran O'Toole, Steve Travers and Ray Millar.
On 31 July 1975, five members of the band were travelling by minibus back to Dublin from a gig in Banbridge, County Down, Northern Ireland. At the townland of Buskhill, outside of Newry, they were stopped at a bogus military checkpoint by gunmen dressed in British Army uniform, who ordered them to get out and line up by the roadside. The gunmen were members of a loyalist paramilitary group, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). Two gunmen hid a time bomb on the minibus, but it exploded prematurely and killed them. The remaining gunmen then opened fire on the band members, killing O'Toole, McCoy and Geraghty and wounding Lee and Travers. Two serving Ulster Defence Regiment soldiers and one former UDR soldier later received life sentences after having been found guilty of murder.
A monument at Parnell Square North, Dublin, dedicated to the dead Miami Showband members, was unveiled at a ceremony on 10 December 2007 attended by Lee and Travers. The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, said of O'Toole, McCoy and Geraghty:
"Their murder was an atrocity which had such a profound impact on everyone on this island. It is remembered with sadness to this very day....We remember the affection in which they were held by people the length and breadth of Ireland. Their popularity crossed all boundaries and all traditions. They simply wanted to entertain everyone who had a love of music. At a dark time, they were a shining light for so many."
After the killings, the Miami Showband regrouped and continued to perform. Des Lee fronted the band until leaving in 1978, later moving to South Africa. The group remained active until 1982, led by Charlie Chapman. They then split up and their management formed a new band, The New Miami, fronted by Caroline Allen. Another new band using the Miami name was formed in 1996, featuring Gerry Brown, brother of the singer Dana.
In August 2005, Lee, Travers and Millar reunited on stage at a Miami Showband Memorial Concert in Dublin. Following from that, a tour was organised in 2008 with the trio being augmented by Gerry Brown, Johnny Fean (formerly of the band Horslips), and Barry Woods.
A stamp was issued on 22 September 2010 by An Post commemorating the Miami Showband. This was one of a series of four stamps issued in Ireland to celebrate the "golden age" of the Irish Showband scene from the 1950s to the 1970s. The 55-cent stamp was designed with a 1967 publicity photograph of the band, fronted by Dickie Rock. Two of the band members killed in the massacre at Bushkill, Fran O'Toole and Brian McCoy, are also featured.
Singles discography (partial list)
- Nov-1963a - "There's Always Me" / "Boys"(No.1)
- Mar-1964a - "I'm Yours" / "Please Don't Drag That String Around" (No.1)
- Oct-1964a - "From The Candy Store On The Corner" / "Twenty Flight Rock" (No.1)
- Dec-1964a - "Just For Old Time's Sake" / "Me Not You"(No.2)
- Jan-1965a - "Round And Round" / "Shake A Little Baby" (No.2)
- May-1965a - "Every Step Of The Way" / "Rock And Roll Music"(No.1)
- Aug-1965a - "(I Left My Heart) In San Francisco" / "One By One"(No.4)
- Oct-1965a - "Wishing It Was You" / "Georgie Porgie" (No.1)
- Dec-1965b - "Buck's Polka" / "O Sole Mio" (No.8)
- Jan-1966c - "One Kiss (For Old Time's Sake)" / "Someone Told Me" (No.3)
- Feb-1966a - "Come Back To Stay" / "Can't Make Up My Mind" (No.1)
- Nov-1966a - "Darling I Love You" / "Suspicion"(No.4)
- Jan-1967a - "When You Cry" / "To Whom It Concerns" (No.7)
- Apr-1967c - "There Goes My Everything" / "Make Believe" (No.17)
- May-1967a - "Baby I'm Your Man" / "Mairzy Doats And Dozy Doats" (No.13)
- Jun-1968a - "Simon Says" / "Somebody Else Is Taking My Place" (No.1)
- Nov-1968a - "Christmas Time And You" / "The Little Boy Santa Forgot" (No.10)
- Apr-1969a - "Emily" / "Waterfall" (No.12)
- May-1969d - "Goody Goody Gumdrops" / "Then I'll Count Again"
- -1969a - "The Wanderer" / "Uncle Tristian's Moonship"
- Nov-1969d - "Jack And Jill" / "Rectify"
- Jul-1970a - "When My Train Comes In" / "Day by Day" (No.15)
- -1970a - "Burning Bridges" / "Run To The Clown"
- May-1971a - "My Heart Keeps Telling Me (I Love Melanie So)" / "We Did It Together" (No.7)
- Oct-1971a - "Cathedral In The Pines" / "Go" (No.15)
- Nov-1971e - "Shake A Hand" / "My Pledge of Love"
- Jan-1972a - "Mini Monster E.P.", (No.9) ("Till" / "Just For Old Times Sake" / "Georgie Porgie" / "From The Candy Store On The Corner")
- Jul-1972a - "Lot 109" / "Teardrop on Teardrop"
- Jul-1972e - "Loco Porti (Crazy For You)" / "The Writing On The Wall" (No.19)
- Dec-1972a - "Lollipops Lace And Lipstick" / "When You Cry"
- Mar-1973e - "Captain Zero" / "Bye-Bye"
- Jul-1974f - "There Won't Be Anymore" / "It Never Rains In Southern California"
- Sep-1974e - "Clap Your Hands And Stomp Your Feet" / "Drift Away" (No.8)
- Sep-1975e - "Love Is" / "Tell Me Again"(No.3)
- Oct-1976d - "Hold On To Love" / "Angel Of Love" (No.1)
- Jun-1977e - "Out There Singing" / "Can't You Understand"(No.7)
- -1978 - "Don't Put The Boy Down"
- Aug-1978 - "I Like It Like That" / "My Life Is Rock and Roll"
- May-1979 - "Too Much Is Going On" / "Miami Melody"
- -1979 - "Reelin' and Rockin' with Susie" / "Clap Your Hands, Stomp Your Feet"
- -1980 - "Words And Music" / "Save The Last Dance For Me"
- The Irish Charts - Straight in at Number One. Retrieved 5 April 2011
- [dead link]
- "All About The Miami Showband". Irish Showbands. Retrieved 2012-07-29.
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- "The Mystery of the Miami Murders". Sunday Business Post. Tom McGurk. 31 July 2005. Retrieved 7 April 2011
- Taylor, pp.147-48
- "The Mystery of the Miami Murders". Sunday Business Post. Tom McGurk. 31 July 2005 Retrieved 7 April 2011
- Taylor, Peter (1999). Loyalists. London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. pp.147-49 ISBN 0-7475-4519-7
- Taylor, p.148
- [dead link]
- [dead link]
- Add to Timeline. "Tom Doherty death notice". Announcement.ie. Retrieved 2012-07-29.
- [dead link]
- "Miami Showband stamp issued". Irish Times. 22 September 2010. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
- "Pye Records [Irish Record Labels]". Irishrock.org. Retrieved 2014-06-06.
- Jaclyn Ward (1962-10-01). "The Irish Charts - All there is to know". Irishcharts.ie. Retrieved 2014-06-06.