Relatively long-lived beat group formed in 1963 fronted by singer Jim Fanning. By November they were being described as "Ireland's Beatles". They were managed by Jimmy Dunne.
The Strangers were a well regarded group noted for their vocal harmonies. They fit squarely in the commercial end of the beat scene, performing covers of the Beatles, the Hollies and the Lovin' Spoonful, as well as band originals penned by McNamara and McEvoy, the main songwriters in the group.
Their heyday was 1967-68 when they were voted Best Irish Beat Group in New Spotlight in 1967 and their debut single was the first Irish beat single to enter the Irish top 10 the same year.
They made their TV debut on The Showband Show on 12 Feb 1966.
They also recorded an advertising jingle for a soft drink I've never heard of and
appeared in this advert
(if it's as delicious as Horslips advert for Mirinda, someone needs to upload it
to youtube now!).
The Strangers paid for their own recordings at Eamonn Andrews Studios which were then released by Pye, a common practice at the time. They recorded originals as well as covers but management forced the release of the former. In all three singles were released on Pye during 1967-68 which are minor collectors items these days.
The debut single from March 1967 coupled two tracks from the Monkee's 1967 "More of the Monkees" LP, "Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)" by Neil Diamond and "Mary Mary" by Mike Nesmith. The second offered a Lovin' Spoonful cover on the A-side ("You Didn't Have To Be So Nice") backed by a band original ("Daytime Turns To Night"). This was released in July 1967. In November they recorded a band original "Backstreets", written by Vic McNamara & Maxie McEvoy, arranged and produced by Billy Brown, which was due for release in January 1968, but this was cancelled. Another unreleased recording from this period was "Seems Like" written by Pat Walsh.
In May 1967 they supported the Beach Boys at the Adelphi in Dublin (3 May 1967). Also on the bill were The Freshmen and The Vampires. In August '67 they played at the first flower power/hippie festival held in Courtown, Co.Wexford over the bank holiday weekend where they went down a storm. Fans resisted any attempt by the band to introduce 'heavier' fare in their live set, preferring the poppier side of their material.
Vic McNamara was hurt in motorcycle accident in May 1967 which sidelined him from the group for a number of months. His temporary replacement was ???. Mike O'Brien deputised on lead vocals for a period while Jimmy Fanning was in hospital. In February 1968, Vic McNamara left to join Derrick & The Sounds.
The Strangers backed Arthur Murphy on his single "Shovellin' Clay" released on Rex Records (R 11041) in 1968. Eamon Gibney played drums in this session. The third and final Strangers single was recorded in a rushed 2 hour session in 1968. The A-side was a poor cover of The Kinks "I'm On An Island". Some of the band hated the song and this shows in the finished product. The B-side "Step Inside" was far superior and is highly rated by some collectors. Plans to record "Julia" (Jon Ledingham) in early 1969 were abandoned.
Len Guest left in January 1969 He joined The Lions in May 1969 and by March 1970 was in The Paragons. He later enjoyed chart success again with Daddy Cool & The Lollipops. His replacement was Perky Buggins (lead guitar) who joined The Strangers in March 1969. During January/February 1969, Jimmy Fanning left the band temporarily, performing a few dates with The Arrivals showband, but he soon returned. By now the band was flirting with an augmented lineup and the showband scene. Eric Murray (of Hot Air Machine and Dreams) joined in January 1970. Maxie McEvoy was replaced by Tommy Moore on bass in February 1970. Maxie joined Len Guest in The Paragons in March 1970. There were undoubtedly other lineup changes before the band finally split in 1972.
A reformed Strangers played a Saturday night residency at the Rathmines Lawn Tennis Club in 1977/78. The lineup was Len Guest (lead guitar), Tommy Caffrey (rhythm), Peter Carr (drums) and a singer named Joe. When Joe left, his replacement was Charlie Murphy, the owner of Charlie's Night Club on O'Connell St. Another guitarist/vocalist named Freddy also played with the band during this period.
Note a different Strangers recorded the two singles released on Harvard Records in 1970, and "I've Got You" / "A World Of Love" (HARV 001) and "Look Up And Around" / "Merry-Go-Round" (HARV 003).
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