Ireland has a strong tradition of creating famous Irish Bands that are known all around the world. From Irish traditional bands to rock and pop bands, you name the genre and we probably have a successful band.
Not to sound boastful but the emerald island has created some of the best bands and music that is adored around the world. From the likes of U2, Westlife and the Dubliners; who all offer something uniquely different for a variety of people.
Part of the success of Irish Bands could be down to that lovable Irish charm and of course the great music they make.
Keep on reading to find out more about the famous Irish bands we love.
We might as well start off with one of the most loved and influential Irish traditional bands from Ireland. The famous Irish band was first founded in Dublin back in 1962. Firstly, known as The Ronnie Drew Ballad Group after its founding member. They eventually renamed themselves as The Dubliners. Taking the name from the famous Irish writer James Joyce’s book with the same name.
The group line-up has seen many changes throughout their incredibly fifty-year career. Although the success of the group has much been focused on the lead singers Luke Kelly and Ronnie Drew. The Dubliners have generated much of their success from their energetic Irish folk songs, traditional style ballads and fine instrumentals.
Dubliners Style of Music
The Dubliners were known for performing many political songs and at the time were considered very controversial. Even National Irish Broadcaster; RTE had put a ban in place to stop their music from being played on their channel from 1967 to 1971. During this time they gained success throughout Ireland, but their popularity spread quickly around the world. Especially in North America, Continental Europe and even Australia and New Zealand.
The Irish band gained their first successful hit with Seven Drunken Nights in 1967. Radio Caroline, a pirate station played the song relentlessly which helped to reach the top ten in the charts. Selling over 250,000 copies of the song in the UK alone.
They were then invited to perform on the popular TV show ‘Top of the Pops’. This helped to pave the way for their second hit record, Black Velvet Band. The Dubliners were going from strength to strength, launching their first American tour in 1968. In 1969 they topped the bill in a “Pop Prom” at The Royal Albert Hall
In 1980, two of the Irish band’s original members died; Luke Kelly and Ciaran Bourke. Although it was devastating, The Dubliners were able to recover and joined up with another famous Irish Band, The Pogues in 1988. Together they created an amazing cover version of the famous Irish Rover song that was an instant hit with fans.
The Dubliners played a huge role in influencing many generations of Irish bands that have come after them. Even to this day, the bands legacy is still heard through the music of other bands and artists. The Dubliners were undoubtedly one of the most famous Irish bands in the world.
Next is the successful rock Irish band is known as U2, who were also formed in Dublin in 1976. The band consisted of Bono who was the lead singer and main face of the band. The Edge was the lead guitarist and backing vocals. Then there was Adam Clayton who played the bass guitar and Larry Mullen Jr who was on drums.
Starting off initially with post-punk style music, the Irish band’s style evolved through the years but has always been built upon the impressive vocals of Bono. Who has also had a successful solo career of his own.
The Beginning of U2
The Irish band was created when the members were just teenagers at Mount Temple Comprehensive school. Once they finished school, they played as many shows as they could in Dublin, trying to build up a local fan base. They officially released their first single in Ireland called “U2:3”, topping the Irish national chart.
Within four years they had successfully signed with Island Records and released their first international album titled, Boy in 1980. The album gained critical success with the Irish and UK Press. Most of the songs within this album were about death, faith and spirituality which were usually avoided by most well-acclaimed rock bands. Songs such as “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and Pride (In the Name of Love) gave U2 the reputation as a political and socially conscious group.
The band gained their first taste of international success with their third album, War. They also obtained their first proper hit single from this album called ‘New Year’s Day’. This song reached number 10 in UK charts and made it to the top 50 in the US charts.
By the 1980s, U2 had become renowned for their brilliant live act, that was first recognised during their performance of Live Aid in 1985.
Altogether U2 have released 14 incredible albums and have been considered as one of the best-selling bands in history. Selling an impressive 170 million records around the world. Their success is also measured in the 22 Grammys they obtained throughout their career. This is more than any other band has ever achieved.
In 2005, they were officially included into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Not only were they successful throughout their music career but they did a lot of work for human rights and social justice gaining U2 lots of respect.
To this day U2 is still making music and touring around the world. The will go down in history as one of the most famous Irish bands to ever exist.
Next on our list of famous Irish bands is the much -loved Irish pop vocal band Westlife. There must be something in the water in Dublin because this Irish Band was also formed there in 1998. They followed in the footsteps of other famous bands such as Take That and Boyzone.
The Westlife story first began in Sligo after three of its member; Kian Egan, Shane Filan and Mark Feehily performed in a school musical play together. After their success on stage, they decided to start a band together originally called ‘Six as One’ then changing to ‘IOYOU’ later.
Louis Walsh who was a successful manager at the time was contacted by Shane Filan’s mother and that’s how he was introduced to the group.
With Louis Walsh as their manager, they failed to get a record deal within Simon Cowell’s Label. Cowell told Louis that he had to fire at least three members of the group. Claiming that they had great voices, but they were the “ugliest band I have ever seen”. Four members of the band were told they wouldn’t be part of the new band.
Quick Success for Westlife
Auditions were held in Dublin in hopes of recruiting two new members. They were successful, and the new members were Nicky Byrne and Brian McFadden. Along with original members Shane Filan, Kian Egan and Mark Feehily, the band was now complete and known as Westlife.
After finding the perfect group of guys for the band, that was just part of the success, next they worked on creating their debut album together. Soon after Westlife released their first single called “Flying Without Wings”. It entered the UK charts at number one position in 1999. This wasn’t your typical one-hit wonder as they later replicated this success with the songs ‘Swear it Again’ and ‘Seasons in the Sun’.
The Irish Band then released their self titled album with all three songs and more. Again this was very popular and the fan was quickly growing a strong and loyal fan base in Ireland and Ireland.
Westlife in the ’00s
By the early 2000s, their album had gone platinum and Westlife even managed to make it across to America, mimicking the likes of Backstreet Boys and NSYNC, as adoring fans fell in love with the Irish band.
Successful back in the UK was incredible, fourteen of Westlife’s singles charted at number one. With each new album, they grew more and more, no one had expected them to gain such popular so early on in their career. With their albums creating massive waves, Westlife began touring and performing live set all around the country.
However, in 2003 amid the band’s success, one of the members Brian McFadden, chose to leave in hopes of pursuing his own music career. This didn’t stop the band, as they continued to tour and released music that fans loved.
In 2010, Westlife released their 10th studio album ‘Gravity’ and decided to leave Simon Cowell’s label Syco, saying they felt there was a lack of support from the label, who wouldn’t release a second single from the album. They then signed a one album deal with RCA Records and a year later they released a greatest hits album featuring some of the bands most loved songs and four new songs.
In 2014, the Irish band made the difficult decision to break up, with one final farewell tour dedicated to the fans.
However, after a 5-year break, Westlife in late 2018 announced that they would be getting back together and embarking on a world tour. Exciting new and old fans of the band who just performed five sold-out nights at the SSE Arena in Belfast, and have over 36 tour dates around Europe and Asia.
Not many bands can come back after so many years of being away and still be so popular, whether they are your guilty pleasure or not, you can’t deny that Westlife is one of the most famous Irish Bands.
The next famous Irish band on our list is one that had huge success during the ’90s with their popular tunes ‘Linger’ and ‘Dreams.’ The Cranberries were a rock band formed in County Limerick in 1989, made up of Lead Singer Dolores O’ Riordan, guitarist Noel Hogan, bassist Mike Hogan, and drummer Fergal Lawler.
Although they would class themselves as an alternative band, you will find varies genres in their music including indie pop, Irish folk and pop rock.
How The Cranberries Were Created
Let’s go back to the beginning of the Cranberries, Brothers Mike and Noel decided to form a band together. The new band was called ‘The Cranberry Saw Us’ featuring lead vocalist Niall Quinn and Drummer Fergal Lawler. Although Quinn was only in the band for a year before he left.
After having no lead vocalist, they placed an advertisement in the local paper and that’s how the found the great singer Dolores O’Riordan. She was asked to audition to one of their existing demos and came back with a rough version of ‘Linger’ which would, in turn, end up being one of their most recognised hits.
Success with Dolores O’Riordan as Lead Singer
Dolores O’Riordan became an official member of the band and they released their first EP ‘Nothing Left At All’, selling around 300 copies. ‘The Cranberries’ then became the official name of the band, as it had a better ring to it than the one before. The Cranberries recorded a second demo EP with Xeric Records feature songs ‘Linger’ and ‘Dreams’ that was then sent across the water to record labels in the UK.
This new demo helped the Irish band gain major interest from some of the biggest record labels in Britain and soon they signed with Island Records. Success wasn’t instant for the Irish Band, their first Ep with Island Records ‘Uncertain’ received many poor reviews from critics. This created tensions between the band and their then manager ‘Pearse Gilmore’ and eventually they sacked him, and hired Geoff Travis as their new manager.
With a new manager, they went back into the recording studio feeling motivated and began work on their first LP, as well as touring around the UK and Ireland, to get themselves known in the music scene.
90’s and 00’s Success for the Irish Band
It wasn’t until the mid 90’s that the Irish band made a mark on the music scene, with the release of the debut single ‘Dreams’ in 1992. Then came their first full-length album ‘Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t’. The Cranberries caught media attention from MTV, during a tour supporting the band Suede, who started playing their videos a lot on TV.
Their song ‘Dreams’ released again in May 1994, reached number 27 in the UK, also helping their debut album grow in the charts. In late 1994, The Cranberries debuted their second album ‘No Need to Argue’, peaking at number six in the US charts and not even a year later the album obtained triple platinum status as well as getting their first number one hit with “Zombie”.
The band continued to tour through the 90s and created massive waves, with new music that was still performing well. Success not just in Ireland, but Canada, America and Europe. This saw them through to 2000s where they debuted their fourth album ‘Wake up and Smell the Coffee’ reaching 46 on American charts and No. 61 in the UK, although not as successful as their previous albums, they were still in popular demand.
A greatest hits album was released in 2002 reaching number 20 in the Uk Charts which was followed by a successful European tour. In Late 2003, the band announced they would be parting ways to focus on their own careers.
In January 2009, the Irish band got back together in honour of Dolores O’Riordan becoming a patron of Trinity College’s Philosophical Society. Although this was never meant to be an official return, soon after The Cranberries announced a North America and Europe tour. The tour was a combination of O’Riordans owns solo music as well as the top hits from The Cranberries.
They were one of the most successful Irish bands, selling millions of albums, that even after their six-year hiatus people still got excited about their music, helping to make them one of the most famous Irish bands.
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