The Finnavons began life as a Country & Western showband from the Mecca of that sort of thing, the town of Castleblaney in County Monaghan. With lead singer Gerry Black getting top billing on their debut single, they scored a minor hit with it's A-side "An Exile's Dream", a mawkish C&W ballad, released on Target in Ireland and Pye in the UK. A second single "Wabash Cannonball" appeared the following year. With even more of a country/Nashville sheen than the debut thanks to prominent country fiddle and a twangy vocal, it failed to build on their earlier success (the flipside "Judy" was chosen as A-side for the Pye release in Britain). Tom Allen replaced Gerry Black as lead singer later the same year and the band moved in a pop direction for what would prove to be their last single, a cover of the Soulful Dynamic's "Mademoiselle Ninette", an Irish only release which is now sought after thanks to some groovy organ over a steady Equals style beat. An 1970 clip from the RTE archives shows the band performng this track onstage at a dance hall but Tom Allen, while onstage, does not provide the lead vocal. This was their final release.
Tom Allen later fronted the Sailors Showband before taking on the dizzying heights of the lead singer position with the Mainliners Showband in 1978, replacing John Glenn who had earlier replaced the legendary Big Tom McBride. By 1980 he was solo, scoring a huge novelty hit in Ireland with "Who Shot J.R. Ewing?". Tom is the brother of Tony Allen of Foster & Allen fame.
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