Brand New Retro: The Beat Scene Boys in Town – May 1968


Posted 5 months ago in Brand New Retro

This photo, taken in May 1968 at the top of Grafton St, shows six lead singers and four DJs from the Dublin beat scene – all young, all looking smart, all looking mod, all very style-conscious. Taken to promote a Yamaha-sponsored dancing competition, the photo unintentionally captures something else; it captures the end of an era, the end of the Dublin beat scene.

Just weeks after the photoshoot, three of the singers defected to the showbands. The scene then faded away during the year as the hippie and psychedelic rock scenes took hold. The music became heavier and the fashion more casual.

Photos from later that year show the boys sporting shoulder-length hair, cravats, denim, flares, and tie-dyed shirts. The beat scene was dead, I’m glad they took that photo when they did. A short who’s who, left to right…

Pat Egan was the top club DJ in Dublin in the 1960s and also wrote about the alternative contemporary music scene for the weekly New Spotlight magazine. Pat opened many record shops before becoming one of Ireland’s top concert promoters. Still working and with over 50 years in the music business, he recently published his memoirs Backstage Pass.

Mike O’Brien was lead singer with Good Tymes a six-piece band managed by Ollie Byrne (later CEO of Shelbourne FC). Mike became lead singer with the Real McCoy showband before emigrating to Canada, where he now lives and still plays in a band.

John Hodges (RIP) was an influential mod DJ who played at the fancy Moulin Rouge club in south George’s St. He also wrote for Hitsville magazine. When only 19, John died, after a short illness, in September 1968.

Phil Lynott (RIP) was eighteen and the lead singer with Skid Row at the time of the photo. He went to Manchester in spring 1969 for a tonsil operation to help improve his singing, but while away, Brush Shiels took over on vocals and Phil lost his place in the band. Helped by Brush, Phil learned to play bass and formed Orphanage with his old drummer pal Brian Downey. They then formed Thin Lizzy at the end of 1969, and then…

Liam Tuohy changed his name to DJ Lee to avoid confusion with the well-known Irish footballer of the same name. He continued to DJ into the 1970s and 80s, playing in almost every club in Dublin, including a lengthy residency at Zhivago. He moved to the U.S. in the 1990s to pursue his screen/stage career, which included a role in Titanic. Still living in the U.S. Liam broadcasts weekly on Irish radio at moremusic.ie

Maurice Walsh (RIP) was a very popular lead vocalist with the Bye-laws. Shortly after this photoshoot, he left and joined Joe Dolan and the Drifters as their drummer.

Mick Roche (RIP) was the lead singer with the Vampires. In 1969 he joined the Arrows, a 9-piece showband. Mick moved to Canada in 1972.

Paul Butler was lead vocalist with the 5-piece band Paul and the Deep Set, who released a handful of singles in the late 1960s.

Jimmy Fanning (RIP) at 21, Jimmy was the oldest person in the photo. He was lead vocalist with popular Balbriggan-based band the Strangers who achieved Irish top 10 success.

Tony Johnston was a DJ. Tony later became proprietor of the ten-pin bowling alley at Superdome, Palmerstown.

Words: Brian McMahon, Brand New Retro

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