Spotlight on: John Glenn – Showband icon singing better than ever in 2014
It was very evident when recently listening to this months Celebrity that the passing of time has in no way diminished the unique rich vocal sound that made John Glenn a household name very shortly after he joined the Mainliners Showband. Indeed, the phrase ‘sounding better than ever’ can be used with complete assurance when singing the praises of this iconic Artist.
I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with John and Gloria at a Concert in the Glen Theatre in Cork last weekend, and it is safe to say that individually both gave stunning performances, and collectively stole the show with their fabulous rendition of ‘Just someone I used to know’.
John has been doing some Shows up and down the country with the Hot Country Band which features Tony on Bass, Aidan on Lead Guitar and Steel, Harry on Keyboards, and Patsy on Drums. With super backing the man from Crossmaglen in South Armagh was in fine form and his impressive catalogue of hits was well received by an appreciative audience.
Several fans chatted with John after the Concert and reminisced about the brilliant nights they had enjoyed in the local Ballrooms listening to John sing with the Mainliners – a time when the average amount of punters attending would be around 3,000 and what has since been dubbed the Golden Age of Showband Music in Ireland.
Like most singers and performers John came from a musical family and always had a great love of music as a child and young man. However, his big break came when he was invited to join the Mainliners in 1975. Showband fans all over Ireland and beyond were shocked when in April of that year, Big Tom revealed that he was leaving the Band to form a new outfit which was to be called The Travellers. Big Tom and the Mainliners played their last date together at the Lilac Ballroom in Enniskean, West Cork on Sunday, May 4th. Of course, several years later, they were to reunite and go on to do several nationwide tours.
Step forward John Glenn – and it is certainly accurate to say that this young talented singer from Crossmaglen had really big shoes to fill when he walked up to the microphone as lead singer with the Mainliners. John made his debut with the Band at the Annadown Carnival on May 8th, 1975 and to coin a phrase – the rest is history. In a very short time, John Glenn had built up his own huge fan base the length and breadth of Ireland with punters turning out in their droves to see this new good looking guy with the great voice.
John’s first Single with the Band was The Sunny side of the Mountain, this was rush released to coincide with the launch of the new lead singer, and the catchy number caught the attention of radio presenters along with the dancing public, thereby generating massive radio play which catapulted it into number 5 in the Irish Charts. John’s career was up and running and continued to gain momentum over the following years with prestigious appearances in all the top venues of the time as well as a string of hit records.
However, in May 1978, John left the Mainliners and formed a new Band which he named The Wranglers. With a young and trendy vibe, The Wranglers proved their mettle and continued to add to the already significant fan base that John had built up while with the Mainliners.
John and the Band continued to play the dates both in Ireland and Britain singing his numerous hit Singles such as Turn back the years, Sweet Little Blue Eyes and Somewhere to sing my Songs which were all hugely popular, as was Crystal Chandeliers which is still one of his most requested songs on stage.
As well as performing in the UK and at home in Ireland, the Wranglers toured the United States, and one of the highlights of John’s career was when he was one of the headline acts at Wembley County Music Festival in 1978 which was a huge honour for the Crossmaglen singer.
Numerous appearances on Irish Television were also the norm for John at the time, and his performances on Pascal Mooney’s Make Mine Country and The Late Late Show were immensely popular.
Nowadays, as well as appearing at dances and Concerts, John continues to record new material and just recently spent some time in the Studio putting down a track entitled Across the Blue Sea which is a lovely original waltz time number.
Of course his many Albums over the years include a selection of the best of Country and Irish numbers and many of these are still available to purchase.