The Chieftains have regularly caught the attention of stars from other musical genres who have been keen to perform with them.
Collaborations with Irish singers like Van Morrison and Sinead O’Connor might be expected.
However, many were taken by surprise when The Chieftains started recording with musicians like The Rolling Stones, Sting, Roger Daltrey from The Who, Mark Knopfler and numerous others.
They were also invited to perform the music for Hollywood films. It was all a long way from their humble beginnings back in Ireland.
International stars while working for the Post Office
Another remarkable aspect of The Chieftains’ story is that for the first 12 years of their careers, they only performed in their spare time and held on to their day jobs. Some of the band worked for the Department of Post and Telegraph in Ireland.
That seems surprising now but we have to remember that they started out in the 1960s in Ireland when work was hard to come by so if you had a job you tended to guard it carefully.
Also, there wasn’t much demand for their kind of music in those early days. They had to create the market themselves.
The Chieftains voted Band of the Year
Not a proper job
Paddy Moloney says his mother didn’t consider music to be a full-time occupation.
It was something only to be pursued in your spare time.
Even when The Chieftains had become world famous she would joke that Paddy didn’t have a proper job.
Everything changed in 1975 when they were voted Band of the Year by the British music magazine Melody Maker – fighting off competition from the likes of Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones.
They also gained added confidence around that time when they played to an audience of 25, 000 at the Cambridge Folk Music Festival in England and were called back to perform three encores.
Given their rising popularity and critical acclaim, they finally decided to take the plunge and go professional.
The early days of The Chieftains
That decision had been nearly 15 years in the making. The band had begun way back in 1962 when founding member and driving force Paddy Moloney wanted to record some of his instrumental arrangements of Irish tunes.
Paddy played the uilleann pipes and he teamed up with Martin Fay on fiddle, Sean Potts on tin whistle and Michael Tubridy on flute.
The musicians already knew each other well having played together in Ceoltoiri Cualann, the Irish folk orchestra set up by Sean O’Riada.
Death of a Chieftain, birth of a band
The budding new group got their name from a director of Claddagh Records, John Montague who had written a poem called Death of a Chieftain.
He suggested The Chieftains as a name and it stuck. It also became the title of the album the band were about to record for the Claddagh record label.
Depends on what I wish to attune to:
If it is to attune to the quiet and block out the noises of the day, I mix my own ambient sounds with a soft instrumental ( Native American flute, Piano, Irish flute-mostly laments, and even single bagpipe....)
The rest just depends on what I want to do. Tangerine Dream, Jean Micheal Jarre, Classical for artsy creative stuff.
Rock, world music, reels, jigs or mixtures when I need a boost.
When I am concentrating though it can only be instrumental or ambient sound (thunder, rain, ocean..).