The Clancy Brothers And Tommy Makem
The Clancy Brothers And Tommy Makem
They were a primary influence on a young Bob Dylan and on many other emerging artists. Oldest brother Paddy was born on 7 March 1922. Tom followed on 29 October 1924, Bobby on 14 May 1927 and youngest brother Liam Clancy was born 2 September 1935. Tommy Makem was born 4 November 1932. After serving in World War II, oldest brothers Paddy and Tom emigrated from England to Toronto in 1947 on the S.S. Marine Flasher, along with 400 returning G.I.
brides. The only men on board were Paddy, Tom, their friend Pa Casey and a few sailors. Once in Toronto, Paddy and Tom worked various odd jobs before coming to the United States two years later, through the sponsorship of two aunts. Residing for a time in Cleveland, Ohio, the two brothers began to dabble in acting.
They decided to move to Hollywood, but their car broke down soon after the trip began. They decided to move to New York City instead. Arriving in Greenwich Village, New York City in 1951, Tom and Paddy both established themselves as successful Broadway actors, appearing in televised performances of their plays. The two brothers established their own production company, Trio Productions. It was here that the singing career began.
To help raise money for the company, Paddy and Tom organized 'Midnight Special' concerts every Saturday night at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Here they would sing some of the old Irish songs that they knew from their childhood. At this time, younger brother Bobby Clancy, among his many travels of Europe, emigrated to New York City for a time, joining his brothers in Greenwich Village. This was the little-known, first 'unofficial' lineup of a singing group of Clancy brothers. In 1955, Bobby returned home to Carrick-on-Suir to take over father Robert J.
Clancy's insurance business, freeing youngest brother Liam Clancy to emigrate to New York City to pursue his dream of acting. Liam arrived in New York in January 1956. A month earlier, Tommy Makem emigrated to the United States from his hometown of Keady, County Armagh in Northern Ireland. Tommy had met Liam Clancy shortly before they both emigrated. Diane Hamilton, friend of Paddy Clancy in New York, followed in the footsteps of her mentor, Jean Ritchie, came to Ireland in search of rare Irish songs.
Knowing Paddy Clancy, her first stop was at the Clancy household, where she recorded several members of the family, including the Clancys' mother, sister Peg and Joan, and nineteen-year-old Liam Clancy. Hamilton asked Liam and recently returned Bobby Clancy to join her on a trek through Ireland to locate and record source singers. One of those source singers was Sarah Makem who had been recorded by Jean Ritchie in 1952 on a similar search of Irish song. Her son Tommy Makem, then twenty-two, and the young Liam Clancy instantly became friends. Said Liam, "Our interests were so similar: girls, theater and music.
He had told me he was going to America to try his luck at acting. We agreed to keep in touch." Tommy was recorded for the first time by Hamilton in that autumn of 1955, among the songs he performed was "The Cobbler." In March 1956, Tommy Makem was out of work; he had landed himself in Dover, New Hampshire, to where many of his family members had emigrated, working in the mills. A two-ton iron printing press fell on Tommy's hand, crushing it. His hand in a sling, and knowing the Clancy brothers down in New York, he decided that the time was right to make a record.
He told this to Paddy Clancy, who had founded a record company, Tradition Records. Paddy agreed and brought in brothers Tom and Liam, as well as Tommy Makem, to record an album of Irish rebel songs, The Rising of the Moon. Little thought was given to continuing as a singing group. They all were busy establishing theatrical careers for themselves, the real reason they were all there. But the album was a local success and requests were often demanded for the brothers and Tommy Makem to sing some of their songs at parties and informal pub settings.
Bit by bit, that's how the singing career began. Slowly, the singing gigs began to outweigh the acting gigs and by 1959, serious thought was given to a new album. Liam had developed some guitar skills, Tommy's hand had healed enough he was again able to play tin whistle and bagpipes, and the times spent singing together had improved their style together. No longer were they the rough, mostly unaccompanied group of actors singing a couple Irish songs for an album to jumpstart a record label; they were becoming a professional singing group. The release of their second album, this one of Irish drinking songs called Come Fill Your Glass with Us, sealed their fate.
The album was a success, and the gigs grew along the pub circuit in New York, Chicago and into Boston. It was at their first official gig after Come Fill Your Glass With Us that the group finally found a name for themselves. The owner begged the guys for a name to put on the marquee, but they had none. Unable to agree on a name (which included suggestions like The Beggermen, the Tinkers and even The Chieftains) the club owner decided for them, simply posting "The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem".
The name stuck. They decided to try singing full-time for six months. If singing turned successful, they'd stick with it; if not, then back to acting. The Clancy brothers and Tommy Makem proved successful after all and in early 1961, they attracted the attention of scouts from The Ed Sullivan Show. The Clancy Brothers' Mum read news of the terrible ice and snow storms in New York City.
So she sent Aran sweaters for her sons and Tommy Makem to keep them warm. Paddy and Liam Clancy stated they wore the sweaters for the first time in the Blue Angel club. When Marty Erlichman, their manager, saw the sweaters, he was beside himself! "That's it!" he exclaimed. I've been looking for a special costume for the group.
It was also the night that Barbra Streisand sang in the Blue Angel for the first time. (Ref. Regis & Kathy Lee show 1991) The sweaters became the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem's trademark. When back in their hometown, the band purchased their Aran jumpers from Babington, on the main street.
Babington had a local woman by the name of Betty McGillivray née Dugganknit the jumpers and supply the shop on regular occasions. On 12 March 1961, the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem performed for 16 minutes in front of a televised audience of 80 million people on The Ed Sullivan Show. As Pearl Bailey did not show that night, the Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem were given her time. The televised performance instantly attracted the attention of John Hammond of Columbia Records. The group was offered a five-year contract with an advance of $100,000, a huge sum in 1961.
For their first album with Columbia, they enlisted Pete Seeger as backup banjo player for the live album A Spontaneous Performance Recording It included songs that would soon become classics, such as "Brennan on the Moor," "Jug of Punch," "Reilly's Daughter," "Finnegan's Wake," "Haul Away Joe," "Roddy McCorley," "Portlairge" and "Moonshiner." The album was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1961. By the end of 1961, they had released two more albums, one final one with Tradition Records, and another with Columbia, Hearty and Hellish: A Live Nightclub Performance, and they were playing Carnegie Hall. Additionally, they were making appearances on major radio and television talk-shows in America. 1962 proved to be an even better year. Ciarán MacMathuna, a popular radio personality in Ireland, was visiting America when he heard of the group. He collected the few albums they had out at the time, brought them back home to Ireland and played them on his radio show.
The broadcasts skyrocketed the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem to fame in Ireland, where they were still unknown. In Ireland, songs like "Roddy McCorley," "Kevin Barry" and "Brennan on the Moor" were slow, depressing songs full of melancholy, but the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem had transformed those songs (the disgruntled purists in Ireland said "commercialized") and made them lively. For generations the songs had been a reminder of the troubles in Ireland and therefore they weren't anything anybody sang proudly. The Clancy Brothers changed all that, and the transformed songs reinvigorated Ireland's pride in her music.
The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem were brought over for a sold-out tour of Ireland in late 1962. Popularity in England and other parts of Europe soon followed, as well as Australia and Canada. By 1963, appearing on major talk-shows in America, Canada, England, Australia and Ireland, as well as their own TV specials, the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem were "the most famous four Irishmen in the world" as said by Ireland's Late Late Show host, Gay Byrne, in a retrospective interview in 1984. In 1964, one third of all the albums sold in Ireland were Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem records. The 1960s continued to be a successful decade with the release of approximately two albums per year, all of which sold millions of copies.
They continued to peak with television appearances in front of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Their popularity is the result of several factors. There was already an American folk revival beginning in the United States, and men such as Ewan MacColl popularizing old songs on the other side of the Atlantic. But it was the Clancys' boisterous performances that set them apart, taking placid classics and giving them a boost of energy and spirit (not that they took this approach with all their songs; they would still sing the true mournful ballads with due reverence). But by the late 1960s, rock music had taken full swing, and the ballad and folk boom was waning.
To keep the Clancys at the top, Teo Macero began producing their records for Columbia. Macero introduced new instrumentation to the Clancys' music, including Louis Killen coming in to play concertina on backup, particularly on their 1968 album of sea songs, Sing of the Sea. But their last three albums for Columbia Record in 1969 and 1970 are considered by many to be overproduced, with a multitude of string instruments and synthesizers added to the simpler traditional Clancy mix of guitar, banjo, tin whistle and harmonica. In 1969, the group recorded a song for a two-minute-long TV ad for Gulf Oil: "Bringin' Home the Oil". They adapted a traditional Scottish tune they had recorded, "The Gallant Forty Twa," with new words about large-capacity supertankers.
The song and commercial featured the then-largest supertanker in the world, the Universe Ireland, which operated with sister ships Universe Kuwait, Universe Japan and Universe Portugal, all mentioned in the song and which operated from the seaport at Bantry Bay. This section does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (March 2012) Other changes in 1969 included the amicable departure of Tommy Makem from the group.
Giving them a year's notice, Makem left in April 1969 to pursue a solo career armed with such recent compositions as "Four Green Fields", debuted on 1968's Clancy Brothers album, Home Boys Home. The "other brother", Bobby Clancy, filled Tommy Makem's vacancy. Also, two of the Furey Brothers (Finbar and Eddie Furey) joined the now-four Clancy Brothers at this time. Finbar Furey was asked by Paddy if he would join them to play whistle and 5 string banjo in Tommy Makem's place. Finbar also added uillean pipes to the show and opened up a new sound to American audiences on stage and TV.
The six-piece band recorded two new albums in the summer of 1969: Clancy Brothers Christmas, released later that year, and Flowers in the Valley, released in 1970. The latter was their final album for Columbia Records. Later that year, Finbar and Eddie Furey left the lineup and for a short time it was just the four brothers, Paddy, Tom, Bobby and Liam Clancy. This lineup recorded only one album together, 1970s Welcome to Our House under their new label, Audio Fidelity Records. Later that same year, Liam and Bobby got into an argument which resulted in Bobby quitting the group. In 1971, the trio brought in the man who had introduced the concertina to the music mix, Louis Killen.
They recorded two studio albums under the Audio Fidelity label: Save the Land and Show Me the Way. Their next, and final, album for Audio Fidelity was a live album, Live on St. Patrick's Day in 1973, recorded the previous year at the Bushnell Auditorium in Hartford, Connecticut. But by the early 1970s, the Clancys were growing tired of touring and singing as a group; their touring schedule was down to five months a year. The brothers were moving in different directions.
All of them had young families at home. Paddy wanted to be home with his family and tend to his farm. Tom began acting again, first on stage then film and television. He moved his family out to Los Angeles in 1974 and landed parts in The Killer Elite with James Caan and Robert Duvall and a major role in Swashbuckler with Robert Shaw.
Liam Clancy was looking to branch out of his older brothers' shadow, the men who had veto power over him, Tommy Makem and Louis Killen over the years in what they sang, according to his feature film documentary, The Yellow Bittern: The Life and Times of Liam Clancy. He moved to Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 1972 and began a solo career when not with his brothers. Despite ill-givings and desires to move on, the group made one more album with Vanguard Records, Clancy Brothers and Lou Killen's Greatest Hits as well as several television appearances on the "Irish Rovers Show" in Canada and a TV special for Brockton television in 1974 (in which Bobby Clancy made a surprise special guest appearance with the group). Further rumblings in the group occurred during a scheduling conflict between a tour of Australia and a film or television role Tom Clancy was set to be in. Tom allegedly accepted the television role over the tour of Australia and told Liam to "Get off my fucking back, little brother," when he informed Tom of the conflict.
In 1976, their sister, Cait Clancy O'Connell, was killed in a car crash. After the funeral in Ireland, Liam told his brothers that they would have to find a replacement. "I'm not going to work with you anymore," Liam said, according to his interview in the 2009 "The Yellow Bittern" documentary. Louis Killen left as well and Paddy and Tom decided it was time for a hiatus. The dissolution permitted Paddy Clancy to devote his full attention to the dairy farm he had bought with his wife in 1963, while Tom flourished in Hollywood, regularly appearing in movies, TV films and TV shows such as Little House on the Prairie, The Incredible Hulk, Charlie's Angels and Starsky and Hutch.
Liam Clancy, suffering financial setbacks in taxes, filed for bankruptcy and moved his family to his in-laws in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Liam was the only one to continue singing, and his brother-in-law helped him get some concert gigs to get him back on his feet. Liam was introduced to "The Dutchman" at this time, which became a hit. The gigs caught the attention of a TV producer and Liam was signed for thirteen episodes of his own music and talk show.
The show was a hit and Liam was signed for thirteen more. On the final episode, old friend Tommy Makem was a guest. This hit episode led to the two of them being signed together for twenty-six episodes. Their show together was called "The Makem & Clancy Show." Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy had both been signed as solo acts at the Cleveland Irish Festival in July 1975.
According to interviews they gave for local newspaper articles, the two of them had to keep meeting with each other to make sure the other didn't sing the same songs at each other's separate gigs. They grew tired of it and decided to just team up for a one-time gig. The team-up was a tremendous success, receiving a 5-minute standing ovation! Makem & Clancy was born. Liam invited Tommy onto his Canadian television series, "The Liam Clancy Show." It was to be his last episode of that season. Lightning struck twice and the show was renewed for 26 episodes.
On the last episode, Scottish folk singer Archie Fisher was invited as a guest. Once again, luck was in order. Fisher told Makem & Clancy he wanted to produce a record with them. Fisher produced their debut self-titled album, "Tommy Makem & Liam Clancy" (1976). The album included all new songs they hadn't recorded before, such as Makem's own compositions "Windmills," and Gordon Bok's "Hills of Isle Au Haut." A last minute addition in "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" helped the album soar.
That song became Liam's signature number as well as ending his financial troubles. With Maurice Cassidy as their international manager and Tommy's wife Mary Makem as stateside manager, the duo hit the road on their first tour in February 1976. Makem & Clancy followed up their debut studio album with a live record recorded at the Gaiety Theater in Dublin in July 1977, the double LP The Makem & Clancy Concert. They continued taking Ireland, England, Australia, Canada and America by storm with several television specials and successful follow-up albums. They brought their old show from Canada to PBS in America and filmed 13 new episodes for New Hampshire PBS. In 1978, they hired a total of 10 backup musicians to help record their next effort, a studio album called Two for the Early Dew.
The album featured mostly calmer ballads such as the now classic Red is the Rose, Dawning of the Day, Grey October Clouds, another Gordon Bok number Clear Away in the Morning and Journey's End. The latter became their standard closing song. Fast, up-tempo songs included the all-Gaelic Cruiscan Lan, previously recorded by the Clancy Brothers in mostly English. The opening song Day of the Clipper came from the group Schooner Fare, whom Makem & Clancy had recently seen in concert.
When Schooner Fare saw Makem & Clancy in the audience they immediately changed their entire repertoire into Clancy songs, except for one song, "Day of the Clipper." After the show, Tommy and Liam told the fledging group they were a bit disappointed they sang stuff they knew, but they asked, "What was that other song?" They loved it so much, it was used as their opening number. During the rest of the 70s and early 80s, they recorded several singles, some of which made it onto their compilation album, Makem & Clancy Collection in 1980. TV specials such as an on location show called "The Music Makers" followed. In 1983, Makem & Clancy recorded their fifth album, Makem & Clancy Live At the National Concert Hall. The album was recorded in 6 February 1983 at Dublin's National Concert Hall and included what many regard as the greatest, most powerful rendition of Tommy's Four Green Fields. The concert was also filmed for Irish television and PBS in America and included several songs not included on the album, such as Pete Seeger's Rainbow Race.
Little Beggarman from this album features a wooden dancing marionette man manipulated by Liam to dance to the beat of the song. This version of the song reportedly received lots of airtime on radio and has become a favorite of many fans. Meanwhile, after taking the rest of 1976 off, Paddy and Tom made plans to bring back the Clancy Brothers. Liam, now part of Makem & Clancy, wouldn't join so they asked Bobby to come back and take the post he vacated in 1970. Tom was at the height of his new career in Hollywood and Paddy was busy with the farm so it was ultimately decided to tour on a part-time basis and only in the United States.
Their recently deceased sister Cait Clancy O'Connell's son Robbie was an up-and-coming musician in the States and in Ireland; he was also helping manage, along with Bobby, the Inn that Cait had opened up years before. So they asked him to take on the role Liam had vacated. He would play guitar and occasionally mandolin and Bobby would play banjo, guitar, harmonica and bodhran. Paddy was well versed on the harmonica too and continued playing it.
At that point, it was the most musically inclined version of the Clancy Brothers. Beginning in 1977 they toured three months a year in March, August and November, all in the United States. Tom would fly over a few days before each tour and rehearse material, mostly oldies from their albums in the 1960s but some new ones as well. Robbie was a songwriter, composing several songs the group sang regularly, such as "Bobby's Britches," "Ferrybank Piper," "There Were Roses," and "You're Not Irish." He also brought in songs from others such as "Dear Boss," "Sister Josephine," "John O'Dreams," and possibly his signature song "Killkelly." Bobby brought "Song for Ireland," "Love of the North," and "Anne Boleyn" to the table. In America, the Clancy Brothers and Robbie O'Connell continued where they left off, still packing Carnegie Hall.
Reviews cited Robbie as a fresh addition to the group with his original compositions, the future of the group. Over the next several years, Paddy and Tom brought some new material. "Greenfields of France" also known as "Willie McBride" by Eric Bogle had taken off with a recording by the Clancys' old backup musicians, the Furey Brothers in the early 1980s. Soon, every Irish group was singing it, including the Clancys and Makem & Clancy. It became a staple in Tom's repertoire.
He also sang "Logger Lover." The group added new lyrics to the old Irish ballad, "She Didn't Dance," and reworked old classics such as "As I Roved Out," "Beer," and "Rebellion 1916 Medley." Some of these songs ended up on the Clancy Brothers' first album in 9 years in 1982, a live album simply titled Clancy Brothers with Robbie O'Connell Live 1982. Many believe the new album was a fresh offering from a reinvigorated group. In the summer of 1983, the group travelled to their hometown in Ireland to film a 20-minute special on sea songs, all sung on location on the fishing ships in the area. It was called Songs of the Sea. Directed by Irish filmmaker David Donaghy, it was to be broadcast on the BBC Northern Ireland.
It is unknown yet if it was indeed ever broadcast. It is known that Tom tried on many occasions to put it on videocassette but the plans fell through. In 1984, Makem & Clancy's manager Maurice Cassidy, brought the original foursome together with prospects of a documentary of the original lineup to be followed by a concert at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center in New York City. Paddy and Tom Clancy took some time out from the Clancy Brothers and Robbie O'Connell, and joined forces with Makem & Clancy. Paddy, Tom, Liam Clancy and Tommy Makem were reunited and production on the documentary commenced after a 90 minute debut on Ireland's Late Late Show on 28 April 1984.
Traveling to Keady, Tommy Makem's hometown, Carrick-on-Suir, the Clancys hometown, then New York City in Greenwich Village, a dress rehearsal concert at Tommy Makem's Irish Pavilion on East 57th Street and finally the big night on 20 May 1984 at the Lincoln Center for the recorded concert, the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem had returned! The Lincoln Center show had sold out within a week, all 3,000 seats, the rowdy audience providing a great participation on the album, released as Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem Reunion. A Reunion Tour of Ireland, England the United States followed in late 1984 and the fall of 1985. Makem & Clancy returned to recording studio in 1986 to produce their final album, We've Come a Long Way. Not wishing to overstay their welcome, or let their material begin to go stale, the duo amicably broke up after 13 years. Both men resumed the solo careers they had begun before reuniting back in 1975. The Clancy Brothers (Paddy, Tom and Bobby) with Robbie O'Connell recorded a new live album at St.
Anselm College in Goffstown, New Hampshire, Tunes and Tales of Ireland. Even Bobby Clancy called this album "crap," and Paddy referred to it as "not our best effort." Regardless, the album is valuable, for it is Tom Clancy's final record. In May 1990, Tom Clancy was diagnosed with stomach cancer. When Tom went into surgery to save his life later in the summer, brother Liam stepped in Tom's place and joined his brothers and nephew on their tour in August. The surgery proved unsuccessful, and Tom Clancy died at the age of 66.
Tom also left behind one son and five daughters: one daughter and his only son from his first marriage, one from his second marriage, and three from his third; the youngest daughter was two years old when he passed. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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