Tony & The  Graduates, Skerries

Related: Bandits

In 1960, in the lovely coastal town of Skerries, County Dublin, there were two rival skiffle groups. In true “Wild West” fashion, they decided that the town wasn’t big enough for both of them, so they did the obvious thing and merged to form a showband. For a while, they laboured under the name, “The Euphonics”, which they took from the Greek phrase meaning “pleasant sounds”, but soon they took a name more suited to their academic background, “The Graduates”.

From the day he climbed into the pulpit of his local church and sang a verse of “McNamara’s Band” while his grandfather tolled the church bells, lead guitarist and vocalist, Tony Keeling, always wanted to be a singer.  Andy Radley, Fergus O’Brien, Gerry Bradley and Colm McCormack made up a strong brass section while Tommy Coleman, George Hand and drummer Paddy Landy joined Keeling in the rhythm section. The Graduates played for two seasons at the local Red Island Holiday Camp, and then, astutely guided by manager Gerry Wickham, they turned professional and embarked on the roller-coaster of one-night stands, records and radio and television appearances.

Their first record, an interpretation of a  Del Shannon song “Kelly”, which they found on the B-side of his hit single “Two Kinds Of Teardrops”, shot up to No.8 in the Irish singles charts and their other records “Anything That’s Part Of You”, “Just My Baby And Me”, “Edelweiss” and “Crystal Chandelier” all made the charts. They made appearances on RTE television on The Showband Show and The Go 2 Show and on Gay Byrne’s radio show, The 17 Club.

In April 1966, they travelled to the U.S.A. where they played in New York, Chicago, Detroit and Boston, and returned in 1967, when they also took in a brief tour of Canada. Like most of the top showbands at the time, they had a big following on the Irish circuit in Britain, and played there regularly.

One of the main reasons for their success was that throughout their decade as one of Ireland’s top showbands, there was only one change in personnel, when trumpeter Tommy Walsh joined their ranks. Tony Keeling returned to his studies when the band called it a day, and is now Principal of a community school in North County Dublin. Tommy Coleman is a professional photographer and Colm McCormack is in the printing business.

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Lead Guitar:
Tony Keeling
2nd Guitar:
Andy Radley
Tommy Coleman
Fergus O'Brien / Tommy Walsh
Sax/Clarinet: Gerry Bradley
Trombone: Colm McCormack
Paddy Landy
George Hand


1965: Kelly / Sentimental Me King KG 1014
1965: Anything That’s Part Of You / It’s A Crying Shame Pye 7N 17008
1966: Just My Baby And Me / Another You Pye 7N 17077
1966: Edelweiss / Come A Little Bit Closer Pye 7N 17201
1966: The Crystal Chandelier / City Lights Pye 7N 17418
1968: I Wanna Live / Angel Pye 7N 17578
1968: Kelly L.P. Marble Arch MAL 857
1971: See The Girl Dance / Statue Hit HIT 13

'Anything That’s Part Of You', 'Edelweiss', 'Crystal Chandelier' on CD - The Irish Showband Collection - Pulse PBXCD323
'Just My Baby And Me' and 'Kelly' (Marble Arch version) on CD - The Fabulous Irish Showbands - Castle Pulse PBXCD476
'Come A Little Bit Closer' on CD - Sham Rock Irish Showbands Go Pop - Castle CMDDD798

compiled by Eddie Kelly

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