Brand New Retro: Irish Showband Fashion 1974

Posted 6 months ago in Brand New Retro


If you played in an Irish showband fifty years ago, you would have dressed in one of three styles. You either wore the classic, matching suit, shirt and tie, or you wore matching suits without the ties, or you sported the casual, informal look.

The New Spotlight Yearbook 1974 featured over thirty full-page promotional photos of Irish showbands and it shows that about 80% of them ditched the suits and went for the comfort and freedom of the informal look.

Those who wore the suits and tie uniform included the likes of The Royal, and Murphy & the Swallows. Usually the lead singer would dress in a style or colour different to the rest of the band.

Mary Lou and Harvest, like a few others in the book, went for the middle ground and wore matching suits with no tie and open collar.

But it is Buckshot with Bill Ryan who epitomises the most popular showband look of 1974. Their promo photo shows a mixture of colours, patterns and fabrics. It’s all long-collar shirts, woollen tank-tops with hoops and wide-lapel jackets. And to show they hadn’t lost the run of themselves or tried to be rockers, they made sure that at least one of them still wore a tie, and no one wore denim.

Strange, I know, but this was a common style feature for almost all the bands right throughout the book.

The other common feature across all the bands was hair. Long hair. The book features photos of over two hundred male musicians and everyone wore their hair long.

Words: Brian McMahon, Brand New Retro

All photos scanned from New Spotlight Yearbook 1974 – No photographer credits provided.

Feature Image: Murphy & The Swallows

In Article Images: The Royal, Mary Lou & Harvest, Buckshot


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