Making a Scene Presents Gerry Casey’s Interview with Pat McManus Part 1
Patrick Frances McManus was one of 6 children born into an incredibly talented musical family in Derrylin, Co.Fermangh, N.Ireland. Pat’s father, John, and his mother Valerie were highly accomplished Traditional Irish music players, so it wasn’t long before Pat and his two brothers, John and Tommy, were picking up all the instruments lying around the house and learning to play. By the age of 7, Pat had already performed on live T.V. and by 14 he was All-Ireland Fiddle Champion. Aged 20, Pat somehow stumbled across a band called Horslips. As Horslips were a Celtic rock band, the 3 brothers could relate to their music and quickly became big fans and later attended so many gigs that they formed a friendship with the guys in the band. The brothers soon swapped their Fiddles, Uilleann Pipes and Bodhrans for electric instruments and formed their first band called – Pulse, with Pat on Guitar, John on Bass & Vocals and Tommy (who was only 12 at the time) on drums. During an interview with Radio Luxembourg , Dj – Tony Prince, who remarked how young they all were, jokingly called them Mamas Boys – the boys changed their name. It was just meant to be an ‘of the cuff’ remark but the name stuck and soon the 3 brothers were officially known as Mamas Boys.
So quickly did they begin to win over their live audiences that soon they were invited to support almost every rock band that came to Belfast or Dublin . By this time, the brothers had released their first self financed album called “The Official Bootleg”. It was really just a demo that had been pressed onto vinyl and sold at their gigs. The first pressing of only 1000 (which had 10 tracks) sold so quickly that it had to be repressed time and time again (this time however with only 8 tracks). The album got the band noticed in England and in 1981 Mamas Boys were invited to tour the U.K. with Hawkwind. In 1982 the band released their second self financed album “Plug It In” which gained great reviews and spurned the hit single “Needle in The Groove”. Record labels were by now fighting over the band and this saw “Plug it in” repackaged and re-released in the U.K. by Ultranoise and by Virgin in France . Apart from headlining their own shows the band toured with Wishbone Ash and in 1983 they released their third album Turn it Up. By now the band were so popular that Phil Lynott personally asked them if they would be his support band on Thin Lizzys’ farewell tour which also included a slot at Reading Rock.
This is where they were spotted by Jive Records who signed the band on a world wide deal (except France where they were still signed to Virgin). Mamas Boys first release for Jive was the self titled “Mamas Boys” album.This record was basically just the best bits of the last two records plus two new tracks, an instrumental – “The Professor” (Pat’s nick name) and “Mama Were All Crazee Now” a cover of the old Slade song. A video was made to accompany this track and it gained Mamas Boys massive airplay in America with record stations playing all three versions of the track (Quiet Riot had also released the song at the same time) and asking the public to vote on which version was the best with Mamas Boys coming out on top, the majority of times. This saw the band getting some prestigious tour slots, going out in America with Ratt and Rush.
It was whilst signed to Jive that Pat first began to work as a session man for other artists which included a very wide range of acts such as John Parr, Tricky and Samantha Fox. (Pat is responsible for the guitar work on her hit single ‘Touch Me’ and she also covered a Mamas Boys song ‘Spirit Of America.’) In 1985 their 5 th album “Power And Passion” was released and after touring Europe in April and May they again headed to the States to tour with Bon Jovi and Ratt before briefly flying back to England to play the Knebworth festival with Deep Purple in front of 100,000 people. The tour ended up in Europe with Gary Moore and then onto Ireland by themselves in December of that year. Tommy, who first had been diagnosed with leukaemia aged nine had a relapse just before the second part of the European tour and had to be replaced by Jim Degrasso from Y&T, thought he was fit and well enough to complete the Irish leg of the tour. However this proved a bad decision and after the tour finished was rushed back into hospital suffering from another relapse and dehydration.
Two years passed before Mamas Boys returned with a new album “Growing Up The Hard Way”, a new polished sound and a new singer. Jive records had convinced the band to bring in a front man and after initially choosing a guy called Ricky Chase the band opted for ex Airrace man Keith Murrell. Keith who was a backing singer for Cliff Richard was currently plying his trade in the West End of London in the musical ‘Time’. Unfortunately, after his second European tour with the band Keith decided to head back to the comfort of Cliff Richard and the process of looking for a new singer started again. In 1989 Connor McKeon was picked from over 500 applicants and the boys again headed out on tour in Ireland with ex- Deep Purple and Rainbow keyboard man Don Airey helping them out. The tour finished with a sell out date at the Marquee club in London . Connor, who had obviously been hit by the fame bug, then decided he wanted to pursue a solo career and soon the long process of finding another singer began again.
In 1990 the boys returned with their fourth singer in as many years – Mike Wilson and another European tour was completed. In 1991 a live album “Live Tonite” was released on the Music For Nations label and the whole year was spent touring. In 1992 what would prove to be Mamas Boys last album “Relativity” was released on the CTM label. During an extensive European tour Mike Wilson met an air hostess, fell in love and walked out on the band. By this time the three brothers had had enough. As Tommy’s health had deteriorated they decided to split the band, only for Barry Hearn to ask them if he could use one of their songs from “Relativety” to promote a boxing match.
The band came back with a second guitarist and a new name “The Government”. The single “Judgement Day” was released and a showcase was performed for record company bosses in London on the 3 rd of August 1993 . Unfortunately Tommy was too ill to perform and after the gig “The Government” project was put on the back burner. Then something extraordinary happened. Due to the pressure the band had been under they had over looked the fact that Mamas Boys had been booked to play three shows in Switzerland in December of that year and as the contracts had been signed, the shows had to be honoured. On the 18 th of December 1993 at the Fuchs Rain Halle in Mohlin, Pat, John – back on vocals, Tommy and keyboard man Alan Williams played as Mamas Boys for the last time. The band had come full circle.
During 1994 Tommy’s health plummeted and rather than suffer years more of intensive pain he bravely decided to have a bone marrow transplant which took place on October the 21 st. Unfortunately, complications set in and after three and a half weeks of fighting, Tommy slipped away at 11.35pm on the 16th of November. After 18 years of intermittent suffering, Tommy was free.
After years of encouragement from fans Pat and John returned in 1997 under a new name “Celtus” and with a new album on the Sony record label called “Moonchild” which was released on the 16 th of June. This was followed straight away with a support slot on the Sheryl Crow tour, who apparently asked for the band herself as she loved the album, including a date at The Royal Albert Hall in London . In November of that year the band went out on tour again this time with Paul Carrick and to top off an incredible year on the 23 rd February 1998 the band were presented with the Irish World Music awards – Best Album Of The Year award, beating off stiff competition from U2, The Corrs and Enya.
The band, who were selling out The Borderline in London every month, then went out on a five week – 23 date tour with Paul Carrick again. Apart from coming out of the recording studio to do a few festivals in the summer, the rest of the year was spent recording the follow up to “Moonchild”. In March of 1999 the band did a headlining tour of England to showcase the new material and on the 26 th July the second album “Portrait” was released. The rest of that year was spent extensively touring, including support slots with Deacon Blue and Jimmy Nail. Incredibly, with the 3 rd single from the album already pressed and due for a January 2000 release and after playing to approximately 50,000 people in the previous three months, Sony decided to drop the band on Christmas day 1999.
Undeterred, the band recorded their third album “Rooted” on their own record label and headed on tour that March, selling the album at the gigs and through the fan club. Celtus were still a very big attraction live and that summer they were invited to play the Irish Festival at Finsbury Park London . The rest of 2000 was spent with the band writing and recording material for a new studio album. A new record contract was secured with Evangeline Records who first released a live album called “Live 2000” and then on 26 th February 2001 released Celtus’ fifth and final album “What Goes Around”. A fifteen date headlining tour of England still proved how popular Celtus were but Pat, who had become a father a few years previous, had become more and more disillusioned with the record industry, decided to move back to the shores of Lough Erne, to bring his daughter up in the surroundings in which he grew up, rather than the hussle and bussle of London.
When home in Ireland Pat began work as a session man and soon began teaching music. After a while a local band who had just lost their guitarist called “The Painkillers” approached Pat and asked him if he could help them out for a few gigs. After a bit of persuasion Pat agreed and soon he had the bug again and “Pat McManus and The Painkillers” began touring the length of Ireland . During late 2003 while working on their album “Blue Flowers” at Mid Atlantic studios in Enniskillen, Pat became a full time member of Sligo band “Indian” For the next year and a half Pat toured with both bands “Indian” and “The Painkillers”. In February 2005 Pat decided a more professional approach was needed and left “The Painkillers” and in April of that year returned with a completely new band. “Pat McManus and Hi-Voltage” played their first gig in Cavan on the 1st of April 2005 and toured extensively throughout Ireland for the next couple of years. In 2007 Pat recorded his first solo album “In My Own Time” which gained fantastic reviews in the press and was also released throughout Europe by Bad Reputation Records of France complete with a different cover.
A series of European gigs were booked which went down so well that the band were invited back time and time again. Around this time Pat decided that a fresh approach was needed and completely changed his rhythm section of the band. The band evolved into the ‘Pat McManus Band’ with Paul Faloon on drums and Gordon Sheridan on Bass and in late 2008 the band recorded a live DVD in France,which has been a sell-out since it’s release.
In 2009 Pat, Paul and Gordon extensively toured throughout Europe, returning to the well established venues and many new ones. This included several festivals such as ‘The Harley Davidson Festival’ in ST.Tropez, ‘Rock The Wolves’ in Switzerland, ‘The Guitar Festival’ in Corsica, ‘ST.Julian Guitar Festival’ in Geneva and ‘Raismes Fest’ in France. At the ‘Raismes Fest’ a live DVD was filmed, which was released in March 2010. The band also collaborated with guests Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash’ and Bernie Marsden formerly of ‘Whitesnake’ and ‘Alaska’. Although continually touring the band recorded a second studio CD, which was launched in Paris and Dublin in September 2009. Titled ‘2pm’ the CD showcases 14 new tracks written by Pat and all the reviews have been positive and complimentary.
In 2012 the line up changed with Marty McDermott joining the band on bass and backing vocals,making the now classic line up complete. There has since been countless tours,album and DVD releases….and as they say “the rest is history”.