Doc Carroll and the Royal Blues 1963 – 1972 by James Reddiough

 In Music & Dancing

They were Mayo’s and the West’s most famous show band and the first band west of the Shannon to reach number one in the Irish charts in 1966. They were formed in Claremorris in April 1963 and one source says it was 1962 but whichever they were a top tier show band in the west and in the country as a whole and there are dancers that still have the fan club card for the Royal Blues. Andy Creighton was the Manager of the Royal Blues. One source tells me that the Royal Blues were very popular in Counties Cork and Limerick and in Galway as wells as the north of Ireland. They played support to Jim Reeves and the Blue boys when they toured Galway in late May 1963 in the Hangar Ballroom in Salthill on the 31st May 1963.

They toured the USA in the early months of their existence and would continue to do so over the years during Lent when dances were forbidden in Ireland during the 1960’s. The Royal Blues were conceived from among the ranks of the Kiltimagh Dance band Pete Brown’s Band of Renown and the four members who started the Blues were Frank and Vincent Gill along with Brian Carr and of course the lead singer Doc Carroll. Other members of the Royal Blues in 1963 were Shay O’ Hara from Carlow and Don Flanagan, Bobby Smith and Brendan Arnold.

They recorded Love’s Going to Live Here in 1965 but the following year they had their major breakthrough with the Fats Domino number Old Man Trouble in February 1966. This song became their anthem and signature tune and was recorded on vocals by Doc Carroll who was born in Tourmakeady and raised in Ballinrobe. This song was in the charts for a number of weeks and in the number one spot for two weeks. It was an upbeat swinging number that proved a big favourite with the dancers.

The Royal Blues charted in the late 1960’s too but never at Number One and in 1968 Shay O Hara left to front the Premier Aces and was replaced by Joe Quigley. At this time The Royal Blues had the following songs in the Top Ten Far Away from You was a hit for Doc Carroll and then Shay O Hara had a son in the Top Ten also with Santo Natale all of these were in 1966 some fifty years ago now and they must bring back memories for readers who followed the Royal Blues during the show band era.

By the early seventies the era of the big ball rooms was waning and the band underwent major changes at this time and in early 1972 Doc Carroll left the Royal Blues to form his own band The Night Runners and this was the end of an era that would result in the formation of the New Blues under the management of Tommy Hayden. Jon Lord replaced Doc Carroll as the lead singer, by the Way Doc’s Real name was Martin O’ Carroll and he got that name because his father was a Doctor in Tourmakeady.

The Royal Blues had a huge following and mention of their name and Old Man Trouble brings back Memories for dancers both at home and abroad.

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