Hothouse Flowers Biography

This folk-inspired Irish rock band, who took their name from the title of a Wynton Marsalis album, are based around the nucleus of vocalist and keyboard player Liam O Maonlai (7 November 1964, Dublin, Eire) and guitarist Fiachna O Braonain. The pair played in a punk band called Congress, before performing as the Incomparable Benzini Brothers. The duo busked in their native Dublin, and in 1985 won the Street Entertainers Of The Year Award. Recruiting Peter O’Toole (bass), Leo Barnes (saxophone), Jerry Fehily (drums) and Maria Doyle (b. 1964, Clontarf, Dublin, Eire; vocals), they became the Hothouse Flowers and landed a regular gig at the Magic Carpet Club just outside Dublin. Their notoriety spreading, they were highly praised in Rolling Stone magazine before they had even secured a recording contract. An appearance on RTE’s Saturday night chat programme The Late Show led to the issue of a single on U2’s Mother label. ‘Love Don’t Work That Way’ was released in 1987 and though it was not a great success, it brought them to the attention of PolyGram Records subsidiary, London Records, who signed them up. Their debut single for the major, ‘Don’t Go’, was a number 11 UK hit. Further hits followed, including a cover version of Johnny Nash’s ‘I Can See Clearly Now’ (number 23), ‘Give It Up’ (number 30), and ‘Movies’. Their bestselling debut, People, reached number 2 in the UK charts.

The Hothouse Flowers existed as part of a larger, looser ‘raggle taggle’ musical community, and members could be heard on material by the Indigo Girls, Adventures, Michelle Shocked, and Maria McKee. In the early 90s, they made their ‘acting’ debut in an episode of the UK television series Lovejoy. Further albums continued to chart in the UK Top 10 but showed little musical progression from their debut. In 1995, O Maonlai formed a side project, Alt, with Andy White and Tim Finn. The Hothouse Flowers returned in 1998 with the uninspiring Born, their final album for London Records. The following year’s self-released live album was a marked improvement on the band’s previous studio collections. Buoyed by their renewed independence the band, by now comprising O Maonlai, O’Braonain, O’Toole and drummer Dave Clarker, began work on new material. Their fifth studio collection, Into Your Heart, was released by the Irish Rubyworks label in 2004.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.