I once had the pleasure of meeting Brendan Bowyer. On February 14, 1999, he, Eileen Reid, and Brendan O’Brien played a memorable night of nostalgia at the West County Hotel, Ennis, Co Clare, backed by The Showband Show. After the vivacious and enchanting Eileen Reid had finished her set, I got talking to her. Eileen then introduced me to Brendan. The Waterford man sat down and put me completely at ease.
Brendan spoke of his father’s connection to the Ennis Cathedral when he was choirmaster there. He spoke of his parents love of classical and opera and Brendan’s own love of Paddy Con’s dancehall in the town. He told me about his early days working at the paper mills in Waterford with Tom Dunphy. The two young men had grown up together and started a part-time band.
They then decided to go professional with The Royal Showband. Their hits included ‘If I Didn’t Have a Dime’, ‘I Ran All the Way Home’ and ‘The Hucklebuck’. The death of Tom Dunphy in a car accident in 1975 left a deep void in Brendan’s life and he told me that night that not a day went by that he didn’t think of his friend and bandmate.
Not too many people can say they met Elvis Presley and The Beatles. Brendan Bowyer met his idol Elvis in Las Vegas and he loved him as a person. The Royal Showband shared a stage with The Beatles at the Pavilion theatre in Liverpool on April 2, 1962.
The Beatles did the first part of the show and The Royal Showband did the second. Brendan recounted in detail what The Beatles sang that night. He went on to say that even though they recorded extraordinary original material he didn’t see that potential then.
In 1971, Brendan joined the Big 8, led by Paddy Cole. In 2001, he recorded a very strong album of material by the cream of Irish writers, including Van Morrison, Paul Brady, Phil Lynott and U2. The album included ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ a standout from the set. The Waterford man really got to the pith and marrow of the song and demonstrated his versatility.
Brendan is one of the greatest showmen this country has produced. Valentine’s night 1999 when he and other legends of the showband era played the West County Hotel, Ennis remains a great memory for me.