The Freshmen
Formed in Northern Ireland in 1962, this highly-respected showband comprised Barney McKeon (vocals), Damien McIlroy (lead guitar), Billy Brown (piano/saxophone), Maurice Henry (saxophone), Terry McGahey (bass guitar), Sean Mahon (trombone) and Davy McKnight (drums). After losing McKeon early on, they recruited Limerick singer Tommy Drennan (later Tommy Dean) in 1963, who was in turn replaced by baritone Derek McMenamin. It was this line-up that first recorded in 1964 under the pseudonym Six Of One. The following year, as Dean And The Freshmen, they issued the Drennan-composed I Stand Alone. It was not until late 1965, however, that they finally infiltrated the Irish charts with a cover of Johnny And Charly's La Yenka. Unlike many showbands, the Freshmen spent heavily on musical equipment and were known throughout Ireland for their superb vocal harmonies. Their 1967 Christmas hit, Papa-Oo-Mow-Mow reached the Irish Top 10, as did Just To See You Smile and Halfway To Where. What was most extraordinary about the Freshmen, however, was their live sound and ability to master the intricate harmonies of their mentors the Beach Boys. They enjoyed chart success with a version of The Little Old Lady From Pasadena, (retitled Go Granny Go) and even included an ambitious version of Good Vibrations in their live act. The Freshmen survived the showband scourge of the early '70s and found Irish chart success in 1976 with And God Created Woman. Meanwhile, original Freshman Billy Brown released successful chart covers of Leaving Of Liverpool and Cinderella. By the end of the decade, however, they disbanded, the victims of changing times and tastes.

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