The Claremorris-based Royal Blues were Ireland’s first ‘boy band’ but all played their own instruments
The death has occurred of one of Ireland’s original showband pioneers, Frank Gill of the Royal Blues. Frank, originally from Claremorris in County Mayo, was 77 years old.
He was a talented singer and musician playing the saxophone, clarinet, and piano among other instruments. His band, the Royal Blues, was the precursor to the Irish boy bands, which followed decades later.
Based in Claremorris, County Mayo, The Royal Blues were one of Ireland’s top showbands throughout the ’60s a n d was made up of former members of Pete Brown’s Showband and new recruits from Dublin. Managed by Andy Creighton, some members came from Pete Browne’s Showband and others came from Dublin to settle in Claremorris.
Their biggest hit was their 1966 Irish Number One record, the single Old Man Trouble. At the height of their fame huge crowds would turn out to meet them.
They released their only LP In A Country Field on Pye Golden Guinea in 1969. Following some personnel changes, the band continued as The New Blues with Trina, Nora Larkin, Keith Beatty, Glen Curtin, Carole and Lola fronting the band.
Frank lived in Acton in London in the late 1980s and early 1990s a n d performed on the cabaret circuit over here as well as appearing on stage at the Galtymore with Joe Dolan and Margo.
He also appeared on stage with Leslie (Dirty Den) Grantham of EastEnders fame. He once chartered a light aircraft with pilot and flew over McHale Park in the middle of the Connacht Final,” recalled his one-time publicist Carmel Mannion.
Frank and his brother Vincent who was also in the Royal Blues were close friends with TV talent judge and former boyband promoter Louis Walsh after they gave him his first job in the music industry.
Walsh used to look after the band before moving to the Tommy Hayden Agency. Last summer Walsh paid tribute to the Gill brothers and thanked them for making his show business career possible when he appeared on a Miriam O’Callaghan programme on RTE television. He also thanked them in his autobiography or memoir.
He died at Our Lady’s Hospice in Harold’s Cross in Dublin and is survived by his wife Mary and their children Frank, James, Sharon and Annie, daughter-in-law Kristy, sons-in-law Andrew and Padraig, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, relatives and friends.
The funeral was on Tuesday at the Church of the Divine Word, Marley Rise, in Rathfarnham.