Biography (Courtesy of ‘Irish Bands Live’ site, 2000).
Jim McCann is one of Irelands longest-serving and best loved entertainers.
Having traded in the life of a medical student at UCD for that of a travelling musician in the early 1960s, he now celebrates 35 years in show business.
Jim's first love was rock'n'roll, and he freely admits that his first influences were Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran. While working in Birmingham on a Summer holiday job in 1964 he became interested in Folk Music, and began performing as a 'Floor singer' around the many folk clubs in that area. He began to be booked as a featured singer in his own right, and on his return to Ireland in 1965 he joined a folk group called the Ludlow Trio, named after the Woody Guthrie song. The folk boom was by then in full swing and the Ludlows, as they came to be called, were one of the top three Irish folk groups along with The Dubliners and The Wolf Tones.
In 1966 they had a huge hit with Dominic Behan's ' The sea around us', which was the first record of it's type to become number one in Ireland. The Ludlow's disbanded in 1967 and Jim embarked on a solo career, releasing his first single' Some Day Soon', an album entitled 'McCann' and appearing on early Telefis Eireann folk programmes.
In 1968 he joined the cast of Maureen Potters ' Gaels of Laughter' revue, and when the five -month run was over he returned to England. For the next two years he sang with great success around the vast English folk club circuit and made regular appearances on BBC radio and TV, returning to Ireland in 1970.
Back on the Irish scene, Jim released his second album 'McCanned' and launched into a hectic round of gigs, during which he made a TV special called 'The McCann Man'. One of Jim's guests on the series was his friend the late Luke Kelly of the Dubliners. This was to prove prophetic. In 1973 Jim broke new ground when he joined the original cast of 'Jesus Christ Superstar'. Jim played Peter, and the cameo role of Herod was played by Luke Kelly, when he was free. During the run of the show Jim was asked to temporarily join the Dubliners because of the illness of Ciaran Bourke, and he agreed. When Ronnie Drew decided to go solo, Jim was invited to become a permanent member. For the rest of the '70s Jim toured the world with the 'Dubs' and with them made many albums and countless TV shows. During this period he also managed to play the Narrator in 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat'.
Jim decided to resume a solo career at the end of 1979, feeling that spending six months of each year away from home was becoming a strain. Since then his career has gone from strength to strength. He has made several TV specials including 'Festival Folk', 'My Ireland' and 'McCann and McTell'. There have been more successful albums such as 'Live at the Stadium' and 'Grace and other Irish Love Songs'- 'From Tara to Here'- is on the K-Tel label. There has also been a string of hit singles, the best-known of which was 'Grace', which stayed in the charts for 36 weeks.
In spite of, or maybe because of his many years at the forefront of Irish entertainment, the period from 1998 to the end of the Millenium will see Jim at his busiest for a long time. A whole new generation of young Irish people have 'discovered' the music their parents loved so well, and have taken to it with just as much enthusiasm. The first part of 1998 was given over to Irish dates, and on the 7th of March Jim guested at the prestigious Emerald Ball in Tokyo. Previous Irish guests at this event have included such luminaries as Phil Coulter and Paul Brady. On his return from Japan he embarked on a short tour of England and Scotland, playing St Patrick's Day at a concert in Dundee. April started with an appearance at the Bergen op Zoom festival in Holland and ended with a tour of German cities from Berlin to Hamburg. May and June were spent in Ireland (and Jersey) and on the 19th of June Jim got together with his long-time Ralph McTell ( of 'Streets of London' fame ) for a charity concert in Youghal. In July Jim was invited to join in celebrating the 30th anniversary of 'Leo's Tavern' in Gweedore. This is the home of the Brennean family which gave us Clannad and the illustrious Enya, so a weekend of great music was guaranteed. September was hectic - it started with an American tour which took in the long established Newport Festival at Labour Day weekend, and continued immediately with a Japanese tour, taking in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. A two-week tour of Holland in November ends the travelling for the year, as Christmas is always spent in Ireland. This busy schedule shows no sign of slowing down. 1999 & 2000 are already quite well organised with at least one American tour, a Japanese tour, a Dutch tour, an England/Scotland tour and a possible return visit to Australia after a 5 - year gap. The demand for appearances by Jim McCann appears likely to continue for many years to come.