Canada’s ambassadors of Irish music, The Irish Rovers, are aiming for the largest audience of their nearly 60-year career when they host an online streaming event, this Saturday, April 17, across the globe. The show would also replace the cancelled Rovers show planned for the Chatham Capitol Theatre last year.
Co-founder and only original remaining member, George Millar, is our guest on the latest edition of In The Studio with 519, where he speaks with Dan Boshart about the concert and the incredible history of the band.
In the interview, Millar recalls hearing “The Unicorn” for the first time:
“We recorded the song “The Unicorn” and immediately we had to do a booking I believe it was about three months between Aspen and Vail in the ski resorts. We did a lot of ski resorts in those days and we’re staying in Vail which was fairly new and there was no television in those days because there were only about four hotels in the town and the hotel and bar owners didn’t want television because they didn’t want people in their rooms, they wanted them out. So there was no television and very poor radio reception because it sat in the hollow of the mountains.”
Somebody came through one night and said, “Hey boys, that song you just sang, I just heard somebody singing it on the radio and we went, “Oh damn, somebody stole our little song and recorded it!” We said, “Well who was it?”, and they said, “I don’t know, some band.” So we kept hearing this same story over the weeks we were there, “Hey I heard that on the radio!” and we’re going, “I can’t believe our luck!” After our last gig we left the next morning and we’re driving back to Los Angeles from Vail and we happened to pick up a station out of Albuquerque New Mexico because it’s a huge powerful station and here’s this Irish fellow, John Lanigan, he’s the disc jockey we pick up and he says, “Okay, this is the last time I’m playing this on my shift. Here’s that damn unicorn song again!” So we said, “Ooh, turn that up, let’s see who took it!” and well it’s us. We stopped the car in the middle of the desert and we got out and ran around screaming. To hear your song on a big station like this out of Albuquerque we were absolutely amazed and speechless and happy beyond belief.”
Millar also gave a hint into how the band, originally formed in 1963, has remained a relevant recording and touring act:
“Song writing and entertaining is exactly the same; you have to work at it. We’re not all Paul McCartney or John Lennon that can sit down and write a song in three and a half minutes, that doesn’t normally happen. A song can take you a week or it can take you a month or it might take you a couple of hours, but it’s hard work and performing is not easy. You have to enjoy what you’re doing and you have to enjoy each other. That’s another pet peeve of mine when people say how did you stay together? What, have you been together for a hundred years now? And I say the two most important things are you must like each other, you must respect your music, what you’re doing, you have to love it and respect it. You hear these great bands whether they’re country or Irish or rock and roll and they had a big hit and then they split up and they say they were having philosophical musical differences and I’m saying, “For God’s sake, didn’t you know that when you started a year ago or six months ago?” You should have known right from the beginning if you didn’t get along that way.”
Watch the full interview here:
Tickets for the streaming event can be purchased at Side Door Access: https://sidedooraccess.com/shows/SfofOlBTtMQULjXvk05R