History of The Chieftains

Regarded as the most famous exponents of traditional Irish music in the world, the Chieftains were formed in November 1962 by Irishman Paddy Moloney. Here's more on them...
My introduction to Celtic Music began on a great note―listening to the Irish Folk Band 'The Chieftains' on the 'Luciano Pavarotti and Friends' album. Later, I bought their CD 'The Long Black Veil', and it played more or less continuously for weeks afterward―I just couldn't get enough. They were, and are just absolutely amazing.
Paddy Moloney was a native of Donnycarney, a small village near Dublin. He was born on August 1, 1938, into a musically inclined family. His grandfather was a flute player, one of his uncles played professionally in the Ballyfin Pipe Band, and there were regular, informal music gatherings at his home. When he was quite young, just six actually, Moloney's mother bought him a toy tin whistle 'for one shilling and nine pence', and he taught himself to play that. A bit later, at the age of eight, he began taking lessons in the traditional Uilleann Pipes, with the well-known musician Leo Rowsome. Moloney's obvious talent pointed to a future career in music, but perhaps, to be on the safe side, he chose to become an accountant, and accepted a position with one of Ireland's largest building firms―Baxendales. In his free time, he kept up with music, playing small gigs―duets, quartets, Ceili Bands, Skiffle bands―regularly, in fact, throughout the 1950s, collaborating often with other upcoming and also part-time musicians like Michael Tubridy, Sean Keane, Peadar Mercier, Martin Fay, Sean Potts, Sean O'Riada, and others.
United by their great belief in Irish Traditional Music―pure Irish music unalloyed by Pop music elements, which at that time was not as popular as it is today―Sean O'Riada had gathered the above mentioned musicians to form a traditional band―Ceoltoiri Cualann (The Musicians of Cualann), in 1959. They provided the background score for 'Mise Eire', a documentary on the Irish War for Independence, recording several traditional airs as well as an original composition of O'Riada's. The soundtrack album proved to be an outstanding success, and overnight Irish Music became the 'in' thing. The Ceoltoiri Cualann began featuring in a weekly radio show.
Around this same time, Gaerech Browne, one of the Guinness heirs and a good friend of Paddy Moloney, established Claddagh Records, a new music company, with the main aim of promoting traditional Irish music. Claddagh's very first recording was that of the pipe maestro Leo Rowsome, Moloney's music teacher. In 1962, on Browne's suggestion, Paddy Moloney and his friends from the Ceoltoiri Cualann came together to form 'The Chieftains', and to record a new album under this name.
The original Chieftains were Paddy Maloney on Tin Whistle and the Uileann Pipes, which give the group their very distinctive sound, Michael Tubridy (b. 1935, Kilrush, County Clare) on Tin Whistle, Flute and Concertina, Sean Potts (b. 1930) on Tin Whistle, Martin Fay (b. 1938, Dublin) on the Violin, and David Fallon on the Bodhran. Of these, Sean Potts and Martin Fay were to briefly leave the group in 1968 to join another group 'Gael Linn'. Sean Potts, along with Michael Tubridy, parted finally in 1979; David Fallon in 1965.
The new additions were Peader Mercier (b. 1914), Bodhran player, who joined in 1966―and left in 1976. Sean Keane (b. 12 June 1946), the Fiddler, who joined in 1968 and is still around. Derek Bell (b. 21 October 1935, Belfast), a superb player of the harp, the Tiompan, and the keyboards, joined in 1972 and remained until his sudden death in Phoenix, Arizona, on 21 October 2002. Kevin Conneff (b. 8 January 1945, Dublin), Bodhran player and vocalist, joined in 1976 and Matt Molloy (b. 12 January 1947, Ballaghaderreen, County Roscommon), flutist, in 1979.
In 1962 though, it were the original Chieftains that began to have music sessions at Moloney's Dublin home. They rehearsed for about a year, before they were ready to record their very first album. This, entitled 'The Chieftains', was recorded in five evenings, working from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Originally intended to be only a one-off thing, the album was so successful that they decided to stay together and have another go. They didn't feel confident enough to give up their day jobs just as yet though―that came later in 1974. Moloney himself continued with Baxendales until 1968, when he became the Managing Director of Claddagh Records. He worked there for the next five years, producing some excellent albums by phenomenally talented Irish artists like Maire Ni Donnachadha, Denis Murphy, and Paddy Taylor.
In 1969 came the second Chieftains album, titled 'The Chieftains 2'. This was cut in the famous Abbey Road Studio, where the Beatles were then recording. They generously made the studio available to the Irish musicians, and even turned up to see them work.
The success of this album as well as that of the next two made The Chieftains famous, not just in Ireland but also in the UK. By mutual agreement, the group now decided to devote themselves full-time to the music business. In 1975, they wrote and performed the score for Stanley Kubrick's film 'Barry Lyndon'. This film was not a commercial success, but the Chieftain soundtrack album, especially the track 'Women of Ireland' was a smash hit with everyone! It created interest across the Atlantic, and they found themselves suddenly in demand in the US. In 1976, under Island Records, their albums were released in England and America, and there was just no looking back after that.
The group then released at least one album every year, won seven Grammies, and performed at countless live concerts. They have performed before the Pope, on the Great Wall of China, and in the Washington D.C. Capitol Building. Paddy Moloney was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Music from Trinity College, Dublin, and the late Derek Bell, two years before his death, was given the MBE for his contribution to traditional Irish and classical music.
Discography
1. Voice of Ages - 2012
2. San Patricio - 2010
3. The Essential Chieftains - 2006
4. Live From Dublin: A Tribute To Derek Bell - 2005
5. Further Down the Plank Road - 2003
6. Down The Old Plank Road: The Nashville Sessions - 2002
7. The Wide World Over: A 40 Year Celebration - 2002
8. Water from the Well - 2000
9. The Chieftains...Claddagh Years Vol. 2 - 2000
10. The Chieftains...Claddagh Years - 1999
11. Tears of Stone - 1999
12. Fire in the Kitchen - 1998
13. Santiago - 1996
14. Film Cuts - 1996
15. Long Black Veil - 1995
16. The Celtic Harp - 1993
17. Another Country - 1992
18. An Irish Evening:Live at the Grand Opera House - 1992
19. The Best of the Chieftains - 1992
20. The Bells of Dublin - 1992
21. Chieftains 10: Cotton-eyed Joe - 1991
22. Reel Music - The Film Scores - 1991
23. The Chieftains Collection - 1989
24. Bonaparte's Retreat - 1989
25. A Chieftains Celebration - 1989
26. Celtic Wedding - 1987
27. Ballad of the Irish Horse - 1986
28. Chieftains in China - 1985
29. Year of the French - 1982
30. Chieftains 9: Boil the Breakfast Early - 1979
31. Chieftains 8 - 1978
32. Chieftains 'Live' - 1977
33 Chieftains 7 - 1977
34. Chieftains 5 - 1975
35. Chieftains 4 - 1973
36. Chieftains 3 - 1971
37. Chieftains 2 - 1969
38. Chieftains 1 - 1963
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