'Flying Carlton' were the U2 of
The Flying Carlton in their hey-day in the
1950's: playing at the packed dancehalls. 'The Flying Carlton' in
their hey-day in the 1950's: playing at the packed dancehalls.
by Hubert Murphy (Drogheda Independent)
Drogheda's most illustrious danceband, the
Flying Carlton, will be honoured in a night of pure nostalgia at the
Glenside Hotel on October 30th 2011. Regarded as the ' U2 of their
era' the band recorded some notable first nationwide records,
including becoming the first Irish band to fly to a gig and the
first group from the Republic to headline at the King's Hall in
Belfast. At the end of the night they had to play ' God Save the
King' - and didn't know the words!
One of their top members was the late Joe
Leech and it's his grandson, Aidan Clarke, who is putting the show
on. 'I was brought up on the Flying Carlton and their music and I
just felt that they were too good to be forgotten. Now is as good a
time as any to honour them,' he stated. For the night, he has
brought together some of the top names in the Irish music world to
form The Flying Carlton Legacy '.
'The original band was almost unique. When a
big hit would come out, my grandfather would get the music, do an
arrangement and within a week they'd be playing it at their next
gig. They were the forerunners of all the bands from Drogheda,' he
added. They began life around 1939 and thrilled audiences the length
and breath of the country for close on two decades. They became the
first band to fly to a show, Dublin to Limerick, and within two
weeks were off to another one in London.
They played a residency in the Abbey Ballroom
and their partnership became synonymous with good times in Drogheda.
'It was actually the Drogheda Independent that got them the name.
They were called the Carlton before they took that first flight and
then the paper christened them the Flying Carlton,' Aidan explained.
The arrival of Rock n' Rock killed the
dancehall days in many ways and the years of travelling certainly
took their toll on the members, Joe Leech passing away at the age of
54 in 1964. 'Whenever I mention the Abbey and the Flying Carlton
people say they were great days. On October 30th we hope to recreate
the Abbey and the band and I think people will love it. I've spoken
to my uncle Dermot Leech about the band, and former members, and we
hope that Sid Kierans, Jez Delaney, Peter Milne and Willie Healy
will be there on the night to mark the occasion,' Aidan stated.