FRANK Gill, bandleader with the legendary Royal Blues Showband, has died in Dublin. A native of Murneen, Claremorris, Frank had resided in Dublin for many years. He had been in failing health in recent months and died in the kind care of the staff of Our Lady’s Hospice, Harold’s Cross.
The Royal Blues became the first band from Connacht ever to achieve a number one song in the Irish Top 20 when Doc Carroll’s version of Old Man Trouble, a popular Fats Domino song in America, topped the charts for two weeks in 1966. The most instantly recognisable sound from the recording is that of Frank’s intro on the sax and throughout the record.
The band, managed by Claremorris man Andy Creighton, enjoyed some phenomenal years including mega nights on tour in the UK and the east coast of the USA.
Frank and his brother Vincent were an integral part of The Royal Blues and both retained a great fondness for their home county all down the years.
During his years with the band, he recorded a few songs including You’ll Come To Castlebar which was a finalist in one of the early Castlebar Song Contests.
Frank (78) retained a youthful vitality through the years and music remained a central part of his life. He enjoyed recalling memories from the showband days and other times including when they operated The Blues Inn pub in Claremorris.
Only last year in The Mayo News, columnist John Healy recalled a famous day in May 1966 when Frank Gill was on board the very first plane, piloted by Claremorris native Michael Finnegan, to touch down at Castlebar Airport.
“The four seater plane had landed that day to huge local excitement. It had been chartered by Frank Gill and Bobby Smyth of the Royal Blues showband, accompanied by their flamboyant manager, Andy Creighton, and a huge crowd turned out for the occasion, given added glamour by the showband which was then at the top of the Irish entertainment scene,” said John.
Reposing was at Our Lady’s Hospice Mortuary, Harold’s Cross, yesterday evening (Monday). The Funeral Mass will be celebrated in the Church of the Divine Word, Marley Rise, Rathfarnham at 10am today (Tuesday) followed by cremation in Mt Jerome Crematorium.
Frank is survived by his wife Mary, sons Frank and James, daughters Sharon and Annie, daughter-in-law Kristy, sons-in-law Andrew and Padraig, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, relatives and friends.