Sad news regarding bass guitarist Danny Gallagher who passed away on March 3, 2019. Irish born Danny was part of Brum's developing pop music scene from the early days of rock 'n' roll, into the 'beat boom' through the 'soul' and 'progressive' scene and beyond.
Danny's son Nathan informed me of his passing and those wishing to pay their respects are invited to the funeral.
Having moved from rural County Donegal to the big city of Birmingham at age 11 in 1957, Danny Gallagher became friends with a young Brummie lad named Keith Poulton who shared Danny's interest in rock 'n' roll music.
Danny said; "Being from an Irish family, you had to have a "party piece" and mine was playing the harmonica. I had learned from a very young age so because of my musical ability, Keith thought it would be a natural thing for us to form a group and I should be the bass player."
Bass guitars were very expensive in those days so with help from Keith, Danny made his own electric bass guitar to his own unique design using the broken-off neck and pick-up of an acoustic guitar and carving the body from a thick piece of wood from the mahogany cabinet of an old sideboard.
In order to improve the appearance of his home-made bass guitar Danny recalled; "The pick-up from the acoustic did not have volume or tone controls so to give a better appearance to the guitar, I painted a couple of bottle tops and glued them on to the guitar body."
Danny's first band formed with Keith Poulton and drummer Ronnie Bowyer, along with vocalist Connie Grant were called "The Phantoms". They played mainly songs by Cliff and The Shadows along with covers of various American rock 'n' roll records.
The Phantoms' second gig at Birmingham's Irish Centre was opening for local pro band The Redcaps whose professional approach inspired them to practice more and work on their presentation.
Danny remembered; "They (The Redcaps) were the first "real" group I had seen and I was blown away. Their performance lit a fire in me and I could see a brighter future if I worked harder at my craft."
Danny's first "professional" band were named Johnny Shane and The Solitaires. The members were vocalist Johnny Shane (Maurice Press), David Bache (vocal/guitar) and George Mills (drums). They also had a van and a manager! By this time, Danny was working his first "day job" and had saved enough to buy a proper guitar and amplifier.
After Danny joined the band, The Solitaires recorded a track titled 'Over You' for the legendary DIAL "Brum Beat" LP that was issued in 1964. This album was ground-breaking in that it was the first to showcase local bands in an effort to promote the thriving local music scene. DECCA Records released a similar LP just a few months later.
Danny recalled; "The (recording) session was over in a blink. I think we had a run through of the song to enable the engineer to get a recording balance then we simply played the song a second time and that was that!"
The Solitaires were kept busy with bookings for the next couple of years until some of them decided to get "proper jobs" including Danny Gallagher until he was persuaded by saxophonist Malcolm Palmer to join his big soul band known as "The Traction". They had formed at the end of 1966 from members of an earlier local beat group called The Yamps.
Traction had a "big sound", no doubt to having as many as 14 group members on stage at the same time including several horn players. Danny said; We were on stage playing one night and drummer Phil Brittle shouted to me, "Do you know who that bloke is over there?" (looking at one of the brass line up). It was hilarious. We had to have two PA systems - one for vocals and one for brass!
The band had a number of different lead singers including the dynamic Brenda Bosworth who became known as "Little Miss Dynamite" due to her incredible voice and energy on-stage. They performed all over the place and Beatles producer George Martin at one time showed interest in making a record with them.
Traction disbanded due to differences in opinion over musical direction coupled with the expense of keeping such a large group on the road and having to make enough to pay all the band members. Danny remained a lifelong friend of their guitarist Will Hammond who went on to join Steve Gibbons in The Uglys.
Danny Gallagher's next professional group were called "Frosty Moses". They were formed in 1969 by himself and vocalist Phil Savage from Danny's previous band Traction. They wanted to move on and leave the soul environment to experiment with progressive rock.
Danny said; "We went to London and recruited guitarist Gerry Earsden, who was playing with Phil Collins and a couple of weeks and one drummer later we got his brother Maurice who was the drummer in a band in Northumbria to join us. Mick Lavender (Hammond organ) came to us from a local Brum band called "Ram Bunk Shush".
Frosty Moses travelled to Wales to "get it together in the country" and record a demo tape of their material. This tape found its way to many London agents/Labels and eventually onto the desk of Chris Blackwell of Island Records who gave the band their name during a visit to his office one day.
Blackwell wanted Frosty Moses to record an album with producer Gus Dudgeon, but after a few days at Trident Studios there was a falling out caused by the producer wanting to replace their drummer, and so the band returned to Birmingham.
The photo shown here was taken of Frosty Moses performing at Cannon Hill Arts Centre in Birmingham.
The group had emerged as a force to be reckoned with during the early 'progressive' rock phase having quite famously, blown King Crimson off the stage at the best gig in the 60's bar none, the famous "MOTHERS" club in Erdington (previously known as The Carlton Ballroom) and managed by Phil Myatt.
Several agents and management companies were interested in Frosty Moses but former Moody Blues producer Alex Wharton had made the journey up from London one night to see them live at MOTHERS after they had been recommended to him by DJ Kenny Everett. Alex had first seen and signed The Moody Blues at this very place a few years before. He was knocked out by Frosty Moses and signed them up on the spot.
The much loved, Phil Myatt also became involved as part of the bands management. It appeared that the future looked positive but this group narrowly missed being thrust into the world of the big acts owing to problems involving their financial backer.
Frosty Moses did however gain a big fan base in Birmingham and London while earning respect from other famous bands. They played high profile gigs around the UK on the same bill as other groups like Deep Purple, Mott The Hoople, Free, and YES.
Sadly, Frosty Moses disbanded due to their major financial backer going broke with most of the group members then going back home to Birmingham. Danny Gallagher went on to run his own sound company called "The Crack PA Company". Mike Lavender eventually collaborated with Laurie Hornsby in writing the famous "Brum Rocked!" and "Brum Rocked On!" series of books.
In recent years, Danny Gallagher worked as the sound technician at The Roadhouse. Danny's interests were many but he still continued to play in local bands including "Critical Mass" and his latest one "Freedom Field".
Danny Gallagher remembered his days in the music business with pride and said; "Being a performing musician is not about the amount or quality of gear that you possess, it's about the spirit and the soul, being inventive and never giving up when times are tough."
"Music of the sixties was a catalyst for social change, alongside great literary offerings and open mindedness. Today's young musicians who are just starting their own particular journey are in for some shocks and a rough ride. Many of them will drop by the wayside, but there just might be another "broke" Irish kid sawing up someone's sideboard right now!"
Danny's funeral is on Monday, March 25th at 2:30 pm at Yardley Crematorium B25 8NA at which time his life will be celebrated.
Written with assistance from Bulls Head Bob who interviewed Danny for stories shown on this web site. Credit also goes to Mike Lavender and Laurie Hornsby at TGM Ltd. for information from their excellent Brum Rocked On! book.