Galway’s biographer to the stars presents fascinating tale of Paddy Cole

Paddy Cole with his official biographer, Galway writer Tom Gilmore.

Paddy Cole with his official biographer, Galway writer Tom Gilmore.

Galway writer Tom Gilmore, who is fast building a reputation as the biographer of top music stars has added another to his literary stable with his new book King of the Swingers, the official biography of the great Paddy Cole.

The popular journalist and broadcaster has already penned biographies of Big Tom and Larry Cunningham, as well as having written the history of Irish counbtry music in the fanous Blackwell Guide, and his new book is flying off the shelves. He is already in negotiations with publishers for other major biographies of music stars.

Paddy Cole is ‘The King of the Swingers’ to most music fans here in Ireland. But many may not be aware that he has been something of a secret Irish international star for almost 70 years. Now this new book lifts the lid on his showbiz exploits at home and abroad.

In Tom Gilmore’s book, Paddy reveals secrets of his international escapades from “sleeping like a spoon” in an old van in Scotland to playing for Elvis, and going on stage after Go Go Girls, in Las Vegas! Paddy, who seems forever young, has been entertaining audiences since he was only 12 years old.

As John McColgan of ‘Riverdance’ fame writes, in his foreword in this new book, “Paddy has had a stellar career. His exceptional musical talent across all genres has entertained generations nationally and internationally,” added the ‘Riverdance’ man.

There is a strong Galway connection involving both the ‘Riverdance’ man and Paddy Cole as Paddy explains in the book.

His TV series for RTE titled ‘Craic ‘n’ Cole’ was recorded in the then Great Southern Hotel in 1995 with John McColgan as the producer. A follow-up series was planned but the worldwide success of ‘Riverdance’ intervened.

Galway connections

It was Galway man, the late Des Kelly from Turloughmore who selected Paddy as a saxophone player and vocalist in The Capitol Showband back in 1960. Paddy looks back fondly on those showband days and on the many times they played to record crowds in Seapoint Ballroom, Salthill.

From a world that was at war when he was born in 1939, to a world that is now at war with Covid19 in his 81st year, Paddy tells tales of seeing an ever- changing Ireland, and world, through the eyes of an entertainer. He has even written a poem in this book, about the times we live in, appropriately titled “Strange Times”. The tales he tells reflect the social history of Ireland, and the Irish at home and abroad; from the hungry years of emigration of the 50s and 60s to the dramatic highs and dreadful lows of recent decades.

His stories, as recorded expertly by Tom Gilmore, are full of sincerity, laced with the good humour for which this bubbly star of stage, radio and TV is famous for.

From playing at the London Palladium, performing to a TV audience of over 30 million, to entertaining Elvis in Las Vegas, or doing TV shows in Dubai, or playing the Jazz clubs of New Orleans this virtuosic saxophonist, clarinettist, and “sometimes a singer!”, is humble and humorous about it all. But when Bob Geldof makes disparaging remarks about the showband scene that spawned entertainers like Paddy, he retorts with a stinging response, “Geldof probably never even saw a showband play at a live venue.”

Nowadays, Paddy lives in Dublin and presents a popular Sunday show on Sunshine Radio. To his loyal listeners in Cabinteely or Cabra, his native Castleblayney to Castlegar, and as far as Casablanca and California, Paddy Cole is still something of a secret Irish international star, as revealed in this book published by O’Brien Press now available in Easons, Kenny’s, Dubray and Charlie Byrne’s bookshops, Galway. OMG Zhivago, Galway, Flynn’s SuperValu, Lackagh, O’Toole’s SuperValu, Tuam, Books ‘n’ More, Tuam and Oranmore and Grace’s EuroSpar, Loughrea.


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