Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Bachelors

Colneth Cluskey (1941); Declan Cluskey (1942), Sean (John) Stokes (1940), three Dublin boys began their showbiz career as harmonica players called 'The Harmonichords'. The lads learned their stage craft in theatres around Dublin and eventually ended up playing with the Radio Eireann Light Orchestra. The Harmonichords appeared on Hughie Green's 'Opportunity Knocks' (Radio Luxemburg) but nothing came of it. Instead they became a folk trio and changed their name to the 'Bachelors'. (The irony was of course all three married early in life, but then it was considered less appealing to market this). Declan gave up a good daytime job to become a performer and his mother was not too pleased. The boys found work in Britain which meant having to relocate to stand any change of breaking into the big time. Just prior to the Mersey Sound and beat groups, Tin Pan Alley anticipated Country and Western music would be the new big thing and The Bachelors certainly had potential. It was when they were appearing in Arbroath, Scotland that Dick Rowe, the boss of Decca records heard them (Dick had missed the Beatles and was keen to make amends), and signed them up. He insisted they recorded a song Karl Denver had just turned down. It was called Charmaine and became a hit reaching the #6 in the UK hit parade.

The year 1963 started really well for the trio but their output for the rest of the year was less successful, chart wise. Faraway Places reached #36; Whispering #18; and Long time ago did not appear in the charts at all.

The bhoys persevered with their folkish vocals led by Con (the voice), Dec drove the trio with his ideas and John Stokes, the third member was happy to go along with the brothers. John’s lack of enthusiasm eventually however drove the trio apart but not before the Dubliners made their musical mark. 1964 was the Batchelor’s year and came out with a remarkable run of hits, all eminently recognizable, even today, 60 years later. At their height of popularity they managed to outsell ‘The Beatles’. The Bachelors were in actual fact the first of the ‘Irish Boy Bands’ to invade Britain’s shores and beyond.

Their already hardy experience as showbiz types held the lads in excellent stead and even while they enjoyed their popular phase as recording artists, the Bachelors slipped naturally into cabaret and stage work. More chart success followed with I Wouldn't Trade You for the World/ #4 and No Arms Could Ever Hold you/ #7.

Between the years 1964/65 The Bachelors played Top of the Pops that many times they had their own dressing wardrobe at the BBC. In 1965 the Bachelors toured Australia but by the end of that year their pop days were almost over. Their army of fans kept getting their works radio airplay but none the less sales of singles began to dwindle. Their last pop flurry came when they charted with Marie #9 and The Sound of Silence #3.

As one door shut another opened and the Bachelors by now had become showbiz evergreens slipping neatly onto the cabaret, clubs and theatre circuits. The Dublin lads made two films, (singing ‘Stars will Remember’ in one ; and ‘He’s Got the Whole World in his Hands’ in ‘He’s Got a Horse’ with Billy Fury).

The Bachelors have continued to work and successfully maintain their popularity on the cabaret circuit for many years. By 1984 an embittered John Stokes split from the group in circumstances that led to a legal settlement and the subsequent creation of the 'New Bachelors'. During their career the group recorded over 60 albums and have appeared with almost every top name of show business including many well known and highly respected musicians. Con and Dec are still working and easily contactable over the internet. The lads help writers to have hit records through their website. Con became a dedicated member of Rotary Club International, and the brothers are executives of ‘The Grand Order of Water Rats'.

Worth a listen:
Charmaine (1962)
Diana (1964)
I Believe (1964)
Ramona (1964)
I Wouldn't Trade You For The World
He’s Got the Whole World in his Hands
The Sound of Silence

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