The Saw Doctors Biography

Originating in Tuam, County Galway, Eire, the Saw Doctors continue the practice of rock reacquainting itself with traditional Gaelic music. Inspired by the madcap antics of the Pogues, et al, the medium is a furious medley of traditional and modern instruments, meshing together in boozy sing alongs or sombre ballads that are best experienced live.

The Saw Doctors signed to WEA Records in 1992 for All The Way From Tuam, but they had made their mark with an independent debut featuring ‘I Useta Lover’. The latter would become Eire’s biggest-selling single of all time, topping the singles chart for nine weeks. Previously Leo Moran (6 November 1964, Eire; vocals) had been playing guitar with local reggae folk outfit Too Much For The White Man. Fellow Tuam ‘sham’ singer Davy Carton (b. 10 April 1959, Eire; guitar) was recruited - or perhaps brought out of retirement might be a more accurate description, the father of three having served time some years previously with local punk force Blaze X. The duo was joined in early line-ups by vocalist Mary O’Connor, mandolin player and traditional singer John ‘Turps’ Burke, and drummer Pádraig Stevens. A more stable unit took shape when science student Pearse Doherty came in as bass player, and the rhythm section was filled out by the presence of ex-footballer John Donnelly. The startling success of ‘I Useta Lover’ brought a re-release of debut single ‘N17’, and the band, fresh from supports to the Waterboys, were selling out venues on both sides of the Irish sea in their own right. They had been joined at this juncture by Tony Lambert (keyboards/piano accordion, ex-Racing Cars). Media assertions that these were ‘designer bogmen’ were enhanced by the choice of producer Phil Tennant (Levellers). However, support slots for bands such as Genesis at Knebworth demonstrated their appeal. They were also featured in a Channel 4 documentary, Sing A Powerful Song.

The Saw Doctors subsequently formed their own Shamtown label, and broke into the UK Top 30 in 1994 with the Small Bit Of Love EP. Even more success followed with the Top 20 hits ‘World Of Good’ and ‘To Win Just Once’ (the latter inspired by former keyboard player Tony Lambert’s win on the Irish lottery), and the Top 10 album Same Oul’ Town. They also found fame as a huge concert draw in the USA, a recognition of their status as the ultimate ‘people’s band’. A compilation set was followed in 1998 by Songs From Sun Street, their first album of all-new material to be released in America.

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