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16 October 2014
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Glen Brown remembers a 60's showband from Larne that cut a record.

ML 1030
THE HIGH SEAS SHOWBAND - LARNE - Contributed by Glen Brown

The band was resident in the Kings Arms Ballroom in the late 6Os that had also toured Ireland, Scotland and North of England. The band line up was Larne locals; Norman Purdy (RIP), Thelma Hall, Jackie Gault, Alex Newell, Bobby Duff, Jim Hill, Wilbert Clements and Alex Brown (cousin of the Late Billy Brown of The Freshmen). Another local Stuart Gillespie joined the band after its formation. The band cut a demo Extended Play (EP) record (disc) featuring the following four numbers.

Side 1.
(a) I'D STILL BE THERE (vocal).
(b) I CAN'T GO ON (vocal).

Side 2.
(a) IN MY ROOM (vocal).

LARNE other bands include,
THE REGENT SHOWBAND that was resident band at the Pavilion Ballroom, Larne. The line-up from Larne and Magheramorne.

In the mid-late 60s when the Regent Showband disbanded Tommy Cameron formed The Cameron Clan with Larne members, Herbie Crooks (RIP), Derek Hunter and Robert Magill*. They became very popular and released an LP "Lightening Express". In 2004 I donated my copy of the latter record to the Larne Historical Centre.

* On my recent visit to Larne (June 2005) I met my old pal Robert Magill (former Regent Showband & Cameron Clan member) and we chatted briefly about the band days. Robert (Rab) is sending me the Cameron Clan line up and their respective band roles to refresh my memory. Tommy Cameron went on to a solo career as Fiddlin' Tom artist recording several CDs (including "I'm not the boy I used to be") and videos to his credit,

Swinging 60s Ballrooms in Larne Borough included, The Kings Arms Hotel, McNeills Hotel, The Laharna Hotel, The Pavilion, The Plaza, with The Rinka (Islandmagee) and Smiths (Carnlough).

Public dancing was also held in the BTH/AEI/GEC run by the Football Section featuring amongst others, 'The Caroline Showband' and Larnes own popular 'The High Seas Showband'. Concerts were also held included, 'The Whiteheather Show' featuring Jimmy Shand and his Band and 'the Val Doonigan Show'. On one occasion a young Frank Carson was a fill-in comedian act during an interval for £5 + Supper. The latter was an expected bonus for him as he asked me if there was a fish and chip shop nearby. Mrs Rea our Canteen Manager always put on a good spread for the artistes.

In the 1950s ROBERT WILSON the famous Scottish singer appeared in Larne (Town Hall?). This delighted my mother for they share the same birthplace, Cambuslang in Lanarkshire. Mother and her WI friends met the renowned singer after his show. Later I inherited an LP of Roberts recording, which I treasure for his wonderful voice, memories of my Mother and my Scots grandmother. I discovered recently that I could see Robert perform in film at the British Pathe News archive website.

Can any of YPAM browsers help me regarding the following?

MARGO AND THE MARVETTES SHOWBAND, they played at the PLAZA (aka Victoria Orange Hall) Larne, c1965

The WITNESSES SHOWBAND also performed there, costing patrons admission 6/- (30 p). Ahh! those were the days.

Also around the same time, across in Islandmagee's RINKA Ballroom were "the WOODCHOPPERS"

Any information of any of the above said bands will be appreciated?


I began attending public dancing in 1966, the KINGS ARMS ballroom being my favourite. The resident band was the FONTANTA SHOWBAND. They later changed their name to the GREEN ANGELS SHOWBAND. I recently learned that when they first played at the Kings Arms they had been called the FONTANA DANCE ORCHESTRA.
When they left their regular Saturday Night Dance spot many patrons were disappointed. However Larne's own HIGH SEAS SHOWBAND took their place as the resident band and began a new but shorter era. Great while it lasted.

OWEN FINNIGAN A boy who sang his way out of Larne

Before, I became a teenager and ventured onto the Larne dance floors, a local born singer OWEN FINNIGAN from Mill Street, Larne had begun his professional singing career. His father must have had a fine voice too, for also back in 50-60s, a Mr Gault of Larne called at the Finnigan's home and recorded Finnigan senior on a reel to reel tape recorder.

Young OWEN FINNIGAN had his singing talent recognised by smart locals in Larne. Their support and encouragement saw OWEN's career get a very good start. For OWEN went on to perform all over Ireland and across the water. A career that's lasted a lifetime. Larne's own OWEN FINNIGAN became better known throughout Ireland and England by his adopted stage name of GARY DELAMERE.
During his many showbiz years GARY performed at numerous venues. Meeting on the same bill many Irish Showbands and top Entertainers. He made many friends.

I never had the pleasure of hearing Gary singing. Recently having spoken to several Larne folk that knew him or about him. Several had not heard about Gary in recent years. All toldl me that he was a fine singer. Recently I heard from his sister Martha, telling me that Gary can still sing a fine tune. GARY now in his 70s is enjoying his retirement.

I'm hopeful that YOU readers will add others not mentioned including any members known names?

Postscript by the author:

Sorry folks for my error, in the original line-up of The High Seas (HSs), I omitted my old friend, a great character with a good sense of humour and also a former Larne ATC cadet "Louis Craig".

We had many beers and many laughs. Away back in the mid 60s on a snowy winters night, Louis and I were in his wee Austin heading to a hall out in the country where the HSs were to play. Because of the bad weather we got deverted by a police patrol. On coming down the hill the wee car caught black ice, took off, spun around, bounced of a snowdrift and back onto its four wheels. When it quickly cooled I think we had to melt snow by rubbing our hands to refill the cars radiator. When we got to the hall they were waiting for the wee Austin. It carried another spare battery to help run the bands equipment, there being no electicty in the hall. I hear Louis visits Larne every year from his home in Canada, our paths have yet to cross again.

Back in 1966 Robert Magill ex Regent Showband featured in the line up of THE COASTERS SHOWBAND along with; Morris Boyd, Tommy Cameron, Ronnie Clugston, Owen Kelly, Tom McGookin, Sammy Todd and John Weir.

The CAMERON CLAN featured; Tom Cameron, Herbie Crooks RIP, Derek Hunter, Robert Magill and another?

Herbie Crooks died in a tragic road accident the band suffered a great loss. Tom Cameron became Fiddlin' Tom, his musical talents feature on audio & video tapes and cds including, "I'm not the boy I used to be".

In recent years I saw Tom performing and at the annual Lammas Fair in Ballycastle. Anyone able to supply information on any Larne Borough groups and band names from the 60s to present. Where possible; any photographs, Line-up names, roles and venues played.

PLEASE email me at Regards, Glen Brown.


Your responses:

Jeff Staiy - Mar '08
What about Shaun Linton?

Glen Brown - Feb '08
Hi Rachel Ball,
Thanks for contacting YPAM I'll see what I can do about your request regarding regarding the Inkspots at the Rinka Ballroom, Islandmagee.

Sammy Todd - February '08
I am the Sammy Todd. I played drums with the Coasters Showbans from Larne. I have lost track with the other members, Morris Boyd, Owen Kelly, Tom cameron, Tom McGookin, Robert Magill, Ronnie Clugson and John Weir. If anyone knows their whereabouts I would love to contact them. Please contact me at -mckay todd at sympatico dot ca.

Rachel Ball - Feb '08
Hi I was wondering if you could help me, i'm looking some information on my great granda john thomas moores old band - irelands own inkspots who played at the rinka in islandmagee - i'd really like to know if anyone has any photos or info on them at this time.

Many thanks

Glen Brown - Apr '07
Hi Jim Boyd,
Your personal email has now been delivered and my reply sent on 18 April 2007

Jim Boyd - Apr '07
Hi Glen,
I was in contact with you a few months ago concerning a Stevie Strong I was trying to get in contact with him through your article in the Larne advertiser. I have been in hospital for a few months and am home at last. I started to check your replies could se that there was nothing for me if I could refresh your mind Stevie Strong served in the Royal Ulster Rifles with me in the late fifties and early sixties we were in the pipe band together we served in the Borneo jungles in the early sixties durning the troubles The battalion came home in the early sixties I went on demobe 1965 lost contact. I came from Belfast got married there and came to Australia. I setteled down in Perth West Australia and have been here for the past forty years I have been in contact with a few of the lads and it would be great to include Stevie we were all good friends, Stevie has lived in Larne all of his life I know that he is married and still living in Larne if you found anything out!
how I can contact him it will be appricated thank you for your help

Glen Brown - Apr '07
Hi Helen, Robert and all,
Thanks for your comments above.
I've just been chatting with Liam Kelly on the phone at his home in Larne. Liam is doing fine and I look forward to seeing him next month (May).
Having just recently replaced my old pc and other hardware I am back in touch with friends. At least until the local lawn bowling season in two weeks time.
On 8th May 2007 many friends will be reliving 1967 on 8th May at a Ruby reunion for former Larne Grammar School classmates and their friends at Cairndhu Golf Club.

Glen Brown - Mar '07
Many THANKS for all added comments here and elsewhere.
I am also pleased to hear by direct EMAIL too;
ON being read by me I will send an acknowledgement reply.
DATE(S) SHOWN ON YPAM pages is date when COMMENTS are added by YPAM and not the date of my actual replies. to the respective YPAM site.
I will do my utmost to pass on requests regarding contact with old friends etc.. Contact me at above email address. Remembering however, should the other person(s) sought decline response, no details will be released without permission by those concerned.

Robert (Crocket) Magee(sax) - Mar '07
Hi there Glen- The Witnesses also played Belfast college where we (The Oceans used to do a break for them. This is when The Oceans started out with six of us.Big Joe and Trixie Were marvelous when they done their version of "Mr. Bassman" We got the gigs with them through our manager who lived in Sydenham and one of his neighbours was a member of The Witnesses. Later on in the late 60s' - 70s' I met big Joe who done the occasional solo performance at the H&W social club where I played with the Cascades.There's no Doubt about it The Witnesses were a great band.

Helen Harrison - Feb '07
Liam Kelly - glad to hear that you are recovering well Glen is great for passing on information. Continue to make a speedy recovery Helen

There was another great singer from Larne called Riki Parks he sang with Dave Glover for a number of years and from what i can remember he came from Ronald Street . The Par 3 are still going strong in Canada .

Glen Brown - Oct '06
UPDATE ON Liam Kelly 28 Oct 2006

GOOD NEWS, Liam having been in hospital since early June 2006 with a serious nasty virus (G-BS) has continued striving to recover.
As the result, Liam will be home from hospital on Friday, 3rd November 2006.
Having spent a couple of weeks inIntensive Care, Liam has made a successful personal battle to recover and has amazed the specialist help that have been treating him at both Belfast R I and Muskgrave hospitals over the past 5-6 months.
Well done Liam and I hear a PC laptop is on order so he'll be back online soon with his many friends.
Anyone who is ill are wished a similar recovery.

Glen Brown - Oct '06

My good Larne friend LIAM KELLY who has been in hospital for over the past four months with Guillane-Barre' Syndrome (GBS), has fought and achieved good progress.
After Intensive Care he had to learn to walk again by painful intensive exercise, medication and therapy. Liam has achieved personal good progress. Another month of similar progress by Liam hopefully will see him discharged from hospital soon. The excellent continuous support by staff at Muskgrave Hospital, all the best wishes from his numerous friends and the love of his whole family, we'll be seeing Liam conquer this illness.

Peter Nash - May '06
Hi Lynne,
Regarding Carey Wilson, I am still hoping to get a response for you.
I'm presently busy with travelling and other interests. If I do not get any info' I will endeavour to try again in mid September.

Glen Brown - March '06
Hi David Peters,
No luck in tracing the history of CARLTON record label so far.
Tony Deleware was unable to shed any light on the label.

Some readers/browsers may recall the 'Embassy' budget label used by Woolworths in the 60s. Their 45 rpm 'single' records featuring unknown artists with Hits of the time was quickly followed by KTel and others budget labels featuring compilations on 33 & 1/3 rpm Long Play Records.

Joe Meek the alchemist of Pop1959-66 (mentioned in David Peter's comments) produced a wealth of talent that still sound good today. His big names included, Emile Ford, The Tornados (Telstar etc), Johnny Leyton, THE HONEYCOMBS ( I received a prize from RADIO CAROLINE for POP PICKIN' having predicted their entry into the HIT PARADE and reaching No.1), Mike Berry and though I do not recall ever hearing any of his recordings until very recently, would-be politician Screaming Lord Sutch.

All the Hip words from the Swinging 60s including FAB, GROOVY, SWINGIN', COOL must have been influenced partly by all those that Joe brought to the attention of the pop hunger public. I certainly enjoy re listening to the talent he promoted. CDs are available from various sources.

David Peters - March '06
Last year, a CD came out in Germany called "Joe Meek.. The missing recordings and rarities" on it is a track called " A girl called Bonnie" released on the Carlton label, this is supposed to be a Joe Meek production, can anyone give any details of this recording, label, and whether it was a Joe Meek production?

Glen Brown - Feb '06
I thank Liam Kelly for his kind remarks in his comments.
It is most gratifying knowing that others share and have consideration for one's interests.

Yesterday 3 Feb 2006, a friendly little bird emailed me, informing me that my old friend Louie' Craig is back living in Northern Ireland.
They told me the name of the place (not Larne) where he now resides.
I therefore hope to contact him in the not too distant future.
When contact is made with Louie, I and several of his old friends hope to have a reunion.

Glen Brown

Liam Kelly - Jan '06
Glen Brown is a godsend to those of us left in Larne and those who departed to live elsewhere. He has brought old friends together again and has given many people a sense of belonging to a period of time when life was good and many of today problems did not seem to exist. He has captured the mood of Larne in the 60's when the air was thick with accents from all parts of the world in the form of tourists, and buses were lined up outside the hotels to whisk them away to witness the beauty of "the Glens" and to gaze in wonder at the Giants Causeway.
Keep up the good work Glen.

Glen Brown - Jan '06
Hi Denese,
Thank you for your comments re' "High Seas Showband" . With regard to your request for 'memories', please email me at: and I'll be in touch.
Hi Lynne,
Regarding Carey Wilson, please contact me direct at my email address (see above).
Wishing you all a Healthy and Peaceful 2006.
Yours in friendship,
Glen Brown
Ex Larne

Denese - Dec '05
I read your e-mail from the 1966. It brings back very happy memories of the 70's. Seeing Morris Boyd's name brought it all back. He and his band used to practice in what is now Drew+Liz Clements home. Then it used to be a row of 4 derelict homes. His niece Lorraine + I used to sneak in and listen to them practising. Morris later went on to form a group called Harvest. Lorraine and I used to babysit his twins Lana+Vicki while he was playing. As for Tom Cameron, we used to go + see him performing in the Larhana, the Glynn marquee and anywhere else he played. He played so much a part of our childhood. If there is anyone out there who remembers these days, especially Lorraine, as unfortunally she died 28th November 2005 and I am still trying to come to terms with it. We were together from we were 6 weeks old. If you have any memories of this please forward them,
Thank You

Lynne Hannay - Oct 05
With regard to your story about Robert Wilson - I am trying to get in touch with a Mr. Carey Wilson - son of Robert & Margaret Wilson. After some unsuccussful research, I wondered if you could help me contact Carey? Carey was also involved in theatre. I believe he resides in Eley, a suburburb of Cambridge, England. Would you, by chance, know how I could get in touch with Carey? Thank-you for your time, Hopefully,
Lynne Hannay
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Glen Brown - Feb 08
Hi Rachel Ball,
Thanks for contacting YPAM I'll see what I can do about your request regarding regarding the Inkspots at the Rinka Ballroom, Islandmagee.



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