Derrick & The Sounds

Related: Taste, Clouds, Newmen, Strangers


From left: Mervyn Martin, Richard Sharpe,  Derrick Mehaffey, Raymond Gourley, Ralph Lyons, Richard McCracken

In 1962, in Omagh, Co. Tyrone, a group of schoolboys at Omagh Academy got together and formed a band called The Strollers. Having played locally for a couple of years, and built up a following, they added some musicians and changed their name to Sounds Anonymous. Their handsome young keyboard player Derrick Mehaffey took most of the lead vocals and in 1966, managed by Bobby Platt, they went professional as Derrick & The Sounds.

Along with Derrick in the band’s line-up at this time were Richard McCracken (lead guitar), Richard Sharpe (bass), Mervyn Martin (drums), Raymond Gourley (guitar), Bill McCracken and Ralph Lyons (saxophones). Their programme was made up mainly of chart hits and big ballads with strong brass arrangements and harmonies. They were unique in that they had their own musical director, Jimmy O’Neill, who was not a member of the band. Jimmy arranged some of their popular brass instrumental numbers such as “Hall Of The Mountain King” and “The William Tell Overture”.

Their first single Power Of Love gave them an Irish Top 10 hit in 1968 and this was followed by My Sly Sadie, Morning Papers And Margarine (1969), Needing You an original composition by trumpeter Damien Given (1970) and My Guitar (1971). All their singles proved to extremely popular on national radio and still stand the test of time today. The Sounds made many television appearances both in Ireland and Britain and also toured Canada and Germany. They had a huge following in Northern Ireland, but also packed the crowds in in places like Cork, Limerick and Dublin.

In 1970, The Sounds almost made it to Top Of The Pops, but not as Derrick & The Sounds. A record producer had recorded a single called Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) with session singers and musicians and released it under the name Edison Lighthouse. However, when the single began climbing up the charts and Top Of The Pops beckoned, there was no band to perform the song on television! Frantic phone-calls were made and the Omagh lads flew to London to become Edison Lighthouse. However, on the same day, someone else from the record company had signed a British band to do the job and the transformation never materialised. The song reached No.2 in the charts.

Like most bands, The Sounds had some changes in personnel during their years on the road. Unusually, at a time when some beat-group musicians were joining showbands, two members of The Sounds teamed up with blues-guitarist Rory Gallagher to form Taste. Richard McCracken, who switched from lead guitar to bass and drummer John Wilson. They were replaced by drummer Vic McNamara from Dublin beat-group, The Strangers and guitarist John Murphy. Later Séamus Quigley (tenor sax), Johnny Blackledge (bass guitar), Malachy Kearns (tenor sax/vocals) and Séamus Caulfield (drums)  joined the band.

Derrick Mehaffey left the band in 1971, spent a while with The Royal Showband and The Conquerors and then emigrated to Canada where he continued to perform and record. These days he sings with The Foyle Showband. After Derrick left, Malachy Kearns took over lead vocals and released a single called “Twilight Time”, a revival of a ballad which had been a big hit for American vocal group The Platters.

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Based in Cookstown, Co. Tyrone

Lead Vocals: Derrick Mehaffey
Lead Guitar: Richard McCracken / John Murphy
2nd Guitar: Raymond Gourley
Bass: Richard Sharpe / John Blackledge
Trumpet: Damien Given
Sax/Clarinet: Ralph Lyons / Bill McCracken / Seamus Quigley / Malachy Kearns
Drums: Mervyn Martin / Vic McNamara / Seamus Caulfield
Manager:

Discography

1968: Power of Love/I'll Take You Home - Target 7N.17601
1968: My Sly Sadie/I Can't Lose That Girl - Target 7N17709
1969: Morning Papers and Margarine/Winter Of Your Love - Target 7N 17801
1970: Needing You/Silly Girl - Release RL 557
1970: My Guitar/Sandy - Hit 10

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