The Bray City Story
~ by Colm Jones
The year was 1976. The Bray City Rollers was the
brainchild of Charlie Hadden who ran a late night disco in the Royal
Hotel Bray, among others, during the early seventies. He approached
his business partner Peter Bardon with the idea and set about roping
in some local musicians. First came Brendan ‘Bangers’ McCann who had
come to their notice after winning a talent contest. Peter Bardon ran
a record shop in Bray and regular customer, guitarist Rob Greene,
became the second recruit. After advertising in some national
newspapers Philip O’Neill arrived with his drum kit, followed shortly
by Jimmy Murphy from Dunleer, County Louth with his Farfisa Organ and
finally, Colm Jones on bass.
Five days later they did their first gig playing a set
during the disco in the Royal Hotel. Each member was paid the weekly
wage of £30 less tax and an extra £5 a night if there were more than 3
gigs in that week.
A single was recorded, produced by Bill Whelan and both
songs were written by Shay Healy. Vocalist Brendan was the only member
who actually performed on the record. The A-side was ‘Lovely Lovely
Face’ and Shay was so proud of it that he credited his dog Rinty
Rafferty as the writer! A second single was released, ‘Love By
Numbers’ some months later, this time written by band members and all
members sang on the recording.
So with the arrival of a VW Van and roadie Phil
Kavanagh, it was off to see every corner of Ireland. The band did more
gigs in Donegal than any other county. However, having to travel to
Cork the next night happened more than once. The Rollers' line up was to change regularly
and in the 9 months of its life saw 13 members. By September 1976 it
was all over.
Brendan McCann went on to form Coke, then Bangers and
Mash and played under that name up until 2005. Rob Greene went to live in California at first, then to
Australia and England before returning to Bray in the late eighties.
He has continuously played professionally and has released 3 albums to
date. He is currently working with Brendan McCann under the name
‘R&B’. Philip O’Neill was a member of Coke and several other
bands and met his wife Joan in one of them, she was the singer. They
currently gig together under the name ‘Chase’.
Colm Jones played with The Sands and The Roly Daniels
Band over the next few years. He then formed ‘It’s A Secret’ who had a
minor hit single in Holland called ‘I Cant Dance’ in 1986. In 1988 he
opened up The Promenade Recording Studio. He currently plays a Sixties
Show under the name ‘CoJo’ and has released an album of original
In 1996 four of the original members reformed for
Philip O’Neill’s 40th birthday. There was an attempt to bring the band
back to public gigs but this sadly foundered. They played together
again in 1998 at Colm’s wedding and again at Philip’s wife, Joan’s 40th
birthday celebration.They have appeared together three more times for
charity functions but the last two were as a three piece. Charlie Hadden is now the sales manager in the local
When one considers the proliferation of tribute bands
in the past two decades, the idea of the band was way ahead of its
time. Well done to Charlie. Also it’s hard to believe that all four of
the original members are still gigging in Bray to this day, 32 years
later. It's not Bye Bye Babies just yet!