Ollie Kennedy hails from Mullingar, Co. Westmeath. And we recently met up to talk a little about himself. Of course, having been born myself in Mullingar and having been through primary school with the same guy and having played music together in our early teens it was going to be difficult for both of us to stay on track, regarding the interview.
"In what class did we split?" asks Ollie.
Of course neither of us could really answer that. We would have needed Frank Cotter or Kit Dunne to confirm the class.
"And do you remember the day the car-wash in Kilcock started to eat the bumper of your auld lads car?" says Ollie.
[Will I ever forget it and us just trying to give the VW it's first ever bath.]
"Ollie," says I, "We better try and get a few notes down or you won't be making your gig tonight."
"Right, we have 30 mins," he then ups and tells me!
Ollie told me that he was "self taught" on the guitar - his first guitar having been purchased for 30 shillings in Nally's and it was an acoustic guitar.
"Hold on a second, Ollie."
"Didn't you and I have our very first few sessions in learning the guitar with Leo Ryan in the Green Road?"
He confirmed this and added that after that he continued on his own and got the chord books and all that.
And his very first band he joined in 1959/1960 - the Young Outlaws. Other members of this band formed locally were John Donohoe, Joe Bredin (RIP) and his brothers Kevin and Des. Of course I walked him into this. I remember both himself and myself played with the Tony O'Sullivan band beforehand. I didn’t want to have him doubting his memory so I left that one.
Ollie next gigged with the Classic Showband replacing Sean McHugh. The next change came for Ollie when Mick Bryan (RIP), Bobby Clarke and himself left the Classic to join the Agents showband.
"I remember we had the best of equipment, crazy boxes and a Binson echo unit and Shure pencil mics (none of your "Copycat" stuff here)", mentioned Ollie.
The Fairways came calling soon afterwards and they did a 3 month stint in Germany from where they were joined by Garry Street (RIP). The Fairways had several hits during this time under the management of Mick Clerkin of Release Records -- Flippidy Flop, Yoko Ono, and Invisible Reilly. Invisible Reilly - that sounds like a song with a story. And it was. But a story for another day.