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Rocky De Valera and the Gravediggers
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The idea behind Rocky De Valera and the Gravediggers was to play high-energy short sharp rock and roll and rhythm and blues roots songs infused with the energy and attitude of punk. The original band lasted from 1977 to December 1979. They recorded several demos as well as an EP for Good Vibrations, which was never released. A track from the Good Vibes EP, 'The Lady Loves to Rock and Roll' appeared on 'Just for Kicks', the legendary sampler of Irish New Wave bands that included U2, The Atrix, Zebra and DC Nien. Rocky De Valera and The Lizard went on to tour Ireland with 'The Rhythm Kings' (1980-83) while Jack Dublin was a founder member of 80's rockers In Tua Nua, which also included drummer Paul Byrne who has metamorphosed into Pall Bearer, drummer and backing vocalist with the newly reformed Rocky De Valera and the Gravediggers.From rockydevalera.com:
Rocky De Valera and the Gravediggers started life behind a stall at the Gaiety Green (known as 'The Dandelion Market' or 'The Dando') in 1977 where young Dubliners Ferdia Mac Anna and Dave Sweeney took part-time jobs selling punk badges. They decided to form a band.. It was Dublin's 'summer of punk' and it seemed that everyone was either in a band or busy forming one. Some of the big names on the Dublin scene included Fit Kilkenny and the Remoulds, The Vipers, Free Booze, The Radiators From Space, The Sinners, The Fabulous Fabrics, Damien Leper and the Open Sores Ireland's or at least Dublin's first all-girl punk combo, The Boyscoutz, all seeking valiantly to follow in the footsteps of local heroes, The Boomtown Rats led by Bob Geldof.
Mac Anna and Sweeney came up with various mad names but none seemed either very punk or rock and roll or irreverent enough for the times that were in it. Finally, they hit upon Rocky De Valera and the Gravediggers. Mac Anna became Rocky (mainly because he couldn't play and instrument) while Sweeney (a guiitarist of some repute) adopted the stage name of Dave Hero. They recruited musicians and picked a set of high enregy guitar driven rock songs.
Inspired by The Sex Pistols, The Ramones and The Damned and influenced by rock groups such as The Pirates and Dr. Feelgood -as well as original 50s rock and rollers Little Richard, Vince Taylor and Johnny Kidd - Rocky De Valera and the Gravediggers staged their first rehearsal in a shed in Howth belonging to original drummer, Rob Campell. They borrowed equipment from local bassist Jack Dublin who was soon to join the band. The Gravediggers played their first gig in Belfield bar in UCD in January 1978 to a chaotic but rapturous reception. The reception went to their heads. They were bought drinks. Girls spoke to them. Someone asked for an autograph. The whole business went to their heads and they decided to tour the world, or at least play another gig.
Among the songs in the first ever set-list were the Pirates classics 'Shakin' All Over' and 'Peter Gunn' and Dr Feelgood's 'She's a Wind-up' as well as Vince Taylor's immortal 'Brand New Cadillac', later covered by the Clash on 'London Calling'. These songs still feature in the set today along with original songs. 'Beyonce', 'Diceman' and 'Psychobilly Sinne Fianna Fail Blues', inspired by an early Gravediggers' orginal entitled 'Sinne Fianna Fail Blues' which was banned by 2fm in 1979 immediately following a live broadcast by the band which incurred the wrath of various FF party members (or so it was rumoured at the time).
The band played gigs in The infamous Magnet bar of Pearse Street and McGonigles of South Anne Street, a place where people swore the carpet had a life of its own, particularly after drink got spilt.
The band changed personnel several times in the first few months before finally settling on their best-known permanent line-up of Rocky De Valera (vocals), Martin 'The Lizard' Meagher (Guitar), Jack Dublin (bass) and Pat Rooney (drums). Former Gravediggers include 'Ritchie 'Milkboy' Taylor, Dave Buckley and Dave 'George' Sweeney aka Dave Hero who was along with Rocky, the founder member of the original band.