BRENDAN O’BRIEN, one of the brightest lights of the showband era, has died.
The Cork entertainer played guitar and sang with the Dixies showband for more than a decade from the early 60s.
The showband, originally called the Dixielanders, was a star attraction throughout the country and successfully took its unique style of dance hall entertainment to Europe and the US.
“This is the day I dreaded. I often thought, ‘how would I be able to handle it if it did happen?’ and now that it has happened I can’t handle it at all. I’m in bits,” said Joe McCarthy, who played drums with the Dixies.
The mid-60s were a period of fame and prosperity for the lads from Cork.
Brendan, who had true pop star status, and his colleagues played to packed audiences wherever they went and still found time to record 27 singles, most of which were top 10 hits.
In 1964, the band signed with PYE Records and quickly recorded two top 10 hits. In 1968, the band had its biggest hit with Little Arrows, which reached No 1 on September 7 and stayed in the charts for a staggering 20 weeks.
In 1969 and 1970 Brendan and the lads went to Las Vegas where they worked residencies in the Desert Inn casino.
With the decline of the showband era in the early 70s Brendan and Joe Mac followed many of their contemporaries and broke from the Dixies.
The two friends formed Stage Two, which had been gathering momentum until 1974, when Brendan had a miraculous escape from a fatal injury when he suffered a severe electric shock from a live microphone.
The incident was to impact on his career and health in later years.
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