My Musical Beginnings and H2O – Part I
If you’ve read this blog before you’ll already know about Bob’s musical heritage: mine is a little more haphazard… my family are all talented: Mam played the button accordion and is one of the most beautiful singers I’ve ever heard (when I was a child, listening to her singing ‘Mona Lisa’ was thrilling); my father had a tuneful gentle voice; older brother Gerard has always been a musician, and my sister Martha is a lovely singer. My brother Sam is shyer than the rest of us but can punch out a tune once he’s relaxed and has had a few pints.
Being the youngest of four children, I not only heard what my Mam and Dad liked but what my older siblings liked, so music as diverse as Nat King Cole and Creedence would have been part of my daily life.
When I got older, Top of the Pops on Thursday night could not be missed. Everything was there: great funk like The Emotions’ Best of My Love’, reggae ‘Roxanne’ by The Police or disco/funk ‘Heart of Glass’ by Blondie. So many songs from that era define it for me, and if I am at a wedding or anywhere there’s dancing and the DJ plays ‘Le Freak’ or ‘Play That Funky Music White Boy’, I’m unashamedly ‘dancing to the dance floor’ in the most embarrassing way (embarrassing for my companions, that is…)
My first ‘public performance’ was at Martha’s wedding reception in 1974 when I sang Nielson’s ‘Without You’, much to the bafflement of the band. I had no idea how to do it so just sang and hoped people would like it. It was so exciting. Made a change from singing into a hairbrush (if I could wrest it off Sam). Now I realise it was primarily a piano song and the band (‘KGB’, they were called) must have hated me with a passion.
I did start singing professionally (getting paid for it – doesn’t matter how little it was…) around 14-15, I think. Myself and my schoolfriend Jackie Baird had been playing guitar and singing Eagles songs just for our own entertainment – she’s a lovely harmony singer – and fell in with a bunch of guys (Ray Downer, Paddy Forsythe, Daithi Dwyer and Anthony McGarry) who had a band. I was going out with Ray at the time and used to go to rehearsals just to listen. Of course, eventually, I sang for them (was only gagging to!) and somehow Jackie and I became their vocalists. Think we ousted whoever was singing with them at the time but, to be fair, we were much better and were female so there was that…
I’m going to leave it there for the moment. Want to hear from my ex-bandmates what they think about it so far and if I’m remembering correctly.