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The Green Angels (Antrim)

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By George Dillon


The Green Angels Showband was formed around 1965 and consisted of most of the members of the already existing Fontana Showband, based in Ballymena, plus several new members to strengthen the line-up. 

The Fontana had started to play more and more in the South of Ireland and decided to change its name to the Green Angels in order to avoid confusion with another band called the Fontana Showband operating out of Cork.

The members of the Green Angels were myself George Dillon (rhythm guitar/ vocals), Pat Savage (drums), Gerry McLean (vocals/trumpet and band leader), Malachy Kearns (vocals and saxophone), Joey Rankin (vocals/bass guitar), Mickey Conway (saxophone/clarinet), Ivan Owens (lead guitar), Jimmy Halferty (keyboards/trombone). Shortly after the band was formed Pat Savage (From Newry) left to be replaced by Gerry McIlduff on drums and Roy Addinell (trumpet/arrangements) was recruited.

George and Gerry senior lived in Ballymena while Gerry junior hailed from Belfast, Malachy from Dunloy, Mickey from Magherafelt, Joey from Clady, Portglenone, Ivan from Ballymoney and Jimmy and Roy from Derry (although I think Roy was originally from the north of England).

The band was strong vocally and instrumentally and featured several top musicians, particularly Roy Addinell and Mickey Conway. It boasted one of the best brass sections on the scene at that time with two trumpets, two saxophones and trombone. I think it was around 1966 that the band  released a record called “Rockin’ Redwings” which featured Gerry McLean. The B side was a song called "Let It Happen" recorded by Joey Rankin.     

The band was popular and built up an extensive following playing in ballrooms, parochial halls, hotels, clubs and marquees throughout Northern Ireland with regular excursions south of the border. At the start, the band operated on a semi-professional basis but decided to turn professional in 1967 at which stage I left as I wanted to pursue my career, although I continued to play semi-professionally in local Ballymena bands.  

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