The Chieftains are a traditional Irish band formed in Dublin in November 1962, by Paddy Moloney, Sean Potts and Michael Tubridy. The band had their first rehearsals at Moloney's house, with Tubridy, Martin Fay and David Fallon. Their sound, which is almost entirely instrumental and largely built around uilleann pipes, has become synonymous with traditional Irish music and they are regarded as having helped popularise Irish music across the world.
Paddy Moloney came out of Ceoltóirí Chualann, a group of musicians who specialised in instrumentals, and sought to form a new band. The group remained only semi-professional up until the 1970s, by then they had achieved great success in Ireland and the United Kingdom. In 1973, their popularity began to spread to the United States when their previous albums were released there by Island Records. They received further acclaim when they worked on the Academy Award-winning soundtrack to Stanley Kubrick's 1975 film Barry Lyndon, which triggered their transition to the mainstream in the US. (Read more at Wikipedia)
Links to Peel
"Go on, admit you like it. If you don't, you must be a phone booth."
(John Peel, after playing the Chieftains session track "The Humours of Carolan" in 1975)
Peel was enthusiastic about the Chieftains' work during the first half of the 1970s. He introduced their debut session on Top Gear, on 05 September 1970, by explaining how he had got to know about them; apparently someone in Ireland sent him a Chieftains record, he played a track from it on Night Ride (probably in 1969) and later saw the band live at the Dublin International Festival, which made him decide to book them for a session on his show.
They recorded five sessions for his shows between 1970 and 1975, and Peel also played tracks from their records - indeed on 07 April 1976 he featured selections from the first four Chieftains LPs, after they has been re-released by Island Records. But he did not play their music so often after that, not necessarily because he had suddenly grown tired of it. Like Pentangle and Steeleye Span, the Chieftains moved from the folk scene into the mainstream with the help of an ambitious manager (Jo Lustig), so Peel may simply have felt that, because they were becoming internationally known and making regular TV and radio appearances, he no longer needed to play their records.
The Chieftains' instrumental blends and subtle arrangements contrasted with the stereotyped hearty singing and guitar-strumming of many earlier Irish folk groups, and had an appeal to listeners who favoured the more contemporary styles of groups like The Incredible String Band or Pentangle. They became widely influential and won an audience beyond the folk scene even before they became world-famous. Among those impressed by the Chieftains was Mike Oldfield, who invited Paddy Moloney of the band to play uilleann pipes on his Celtic-influenced album Ommadawn. They were the first Irish traditional folk artists to appear in session on Peel's programmes, and others would follow, including Planxty, Na Fili, Paul Brady, The Bothy Band, De Danaan and Sharon Shannon. It is clear that Peel had a liking for Irish folk music, although, as with reggae, he received some racist mail after playing it on his shows of the 1970s.
Festive Fifty Entries
Five sessions. No known commercial release. Unknown session repeat tracks by the band were also played on 22 September 1975.
- The Foxhunt / The Munster Cloak / Lord Inchiquin / Kerry Polkas / Strike The Gay Harp / An Maigdean Mara
2. Recorded 1972-09-09. First broadcast 03 October 1972. Repeated
- Trip To Sligo / Lord Mayo / Sonny's Mazurka/Tommy Hunt's Jig / John Kelly's/Merrily Kiss The Quaker/Dennis Murphy's / Planxty Johnson / An Goach Aenas (Not Broadcast)
- Drowsy Maggie / Planxty Johnson / Lord Mayo / Munster Cloak / Morning Dew
4. Recorded 1974-03-02. First broadcast 12 March 1974. Repeated
- Humours Of Bally Connell/Bean An Flir Rua/Cherish The Ladies / Fanny Power / Battle Of Aughram / Three Kerry Slides
- Samhra Samhra / Humours Of Bally Connell/Bean An Flir Rua/Cherish The Ladies / The Humours Of Carolan / Slides / 3 Polkas
(Please correct mistakes and add any missing info)
- 24 April 1976: In Concert show, introduced by Peel, recorded Paris Theatre, 1976-04-01.
- 1-3) unknown
- 4) Sir Festus Burke (Derek Bell solo on Irish Harp)
- 5-7) unknown
Other Shows Played
- 13 November 1973: Cherish The Ladies (album - 4)
- 12 March 1974: unknown
- 13 March 1975: Drowsy Maggie (LP - The Chieftains 4) Claddagh
- 29 September 1975: Tabhair Dom Do Lámh (Give Me Your Hand) (album - The Chieftains 5) Island ILPS9334
- 08 October 1975: The Humours of Carolan (album - The Chieftains 5) Island ILPS9334
- 07 April 1976: selections from the first four Chieftains LPs
- 11 October 1976: Bonaparte's Retreat (LP - Bonaparte's Retreat) Island
- 14 October 1976: unknown tracks (LP: The Chieftains 6; Bonaparte's Retreat) ("for umpteenth time", writes Ken Garner in The Peel Sessions, p.217)
- 28 June 1977: unknown
- 02 May 1988: Full Of Joy (LP - The Chieftains In China) Claddagh (John Walters sits in for Peel)