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The Countrymen - Antrim - Title graphic

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Countrymen (Antrim), history p2.

Further changes in personnel occurred in subsequent years with Maurice Crum leaving to join Leo McCaffrey and the Glensmen, Frankie Hamill leaving due to illness to be replaced by Sammy Murray on lead vocals, Johnny Sayers quitting and being replaced by Stevie McDowell on bass, Mervyn Bankhead leaving because of work commitments to be replaced by his brother Sammy on drums and Sammy Bankhead also leaving later to be replaced by Raymond Irwin. Tommy Laverty, the well known North Antrim singer, also played in the band for a short time.

Although  I eventually became band leader and manager further changes in the public’s musical taste prompted me to leave the Countrymen in 1985 to take up a solo career (under the stage name of Solo and Sounds) and Raymond Irwin also decided to leave at the same time to join another band. The remaining band members continued to play together for a few more years but the band eventually split up in 1989.

Sadly Mervyn and Raymond Bankhead have since passed on but are not forgotten by the other band members.

If anyone has further information about the Countrymen I will be happy to update the above. Please drop a line to my e-mail address –

©2003 George Dillon

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