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                  A Lifetime in Musicby John McGrenraHello,John here, bass guitar around my neck as it has been since 1969 when I started with The Sundowners in my native Donegal.After leaving the Sundowners, and being what I thought was “young and sexy,” I decided to join the most popular local band, which was the Blue Glows. So, the Glows got a sex symbol at last, but there were too many sex symbols around so I decided it would be better to go “national.”As a reader of the infamous mag, Spotlight, I saw an advert that read, “national band requires bass guitarist.” So, I rang and went for the audition and got the spot with The Farmer’s Sons. Finally, I was a star in digs in Dublin….No Dogs, No Girls, lights out at 11 p.m. Special note: Gretta, I love you…my virginity was well safe!!While with the Farmer’s Sons, we were kept busy…rehearing on our days off from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., learning music and dance steps. They really were the best years for me. It really was a professional outfit, we were advised on all aspects of the business…communication, entertainment, selling yourself, while entertaining! LOL! Thanks Liam Ryan, our manager, a “Louis Walsh” in the making 20 years ago.In late 1976 I joined the legendary Brian Coll & The Buckaroos. This really was my first taste of and introduction to “real” country music and what an introduction…playing with one of the masters of the art. I spent a year with the band and discovered a whole new audience as we packed dances and concerts all over Ireland and the Irish circuit in the U.K. Based in Omagh Co Tyrone, I was there until Brian semi – retired in 1977.So in 1977, I went home to Donegal and started a local group, Tuscany. The band went quite well on the local scene. I was making a living and had time for family. We even started to build a fan base in the local areas in the pubs and small dance halls that dotted the countryside.It wasn’t long though, before I felt I needed a new challenge. After a year of begging Gerry Madigan of the Cottons for a job, it finally paid off and I was offered the position with the band. Unfortunately, shortly after I joined, Gerry left the band to form Mash. But it was still great playing with Gerry and legends like Charlie Arkins on fiddle every week. We did TV spots on RTE for shows like S.B.B., Keep It Country, Live at 3, we even did the Late Late Show seven times during my stint with the band.Over time though, the band underwent a lot of lineup changes and the scene was changing as well. Guy in the band were coming and going and it was getting harder to enjoy playing as the gigs weren’t what they were when I started fifteen years earlier. Without much work and money I decided to get out and go back home again.I formed several local bands, but finally found my niche with my band Choice. We released a single, Roses in the Snow, and became one of the top local acts in the County. We were working constantly and life was good until nature took her revenge with my heart.To date, I’ve suffered three heart attacks, had angiplast surgery, and finally an implanted cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). Without these wonders of modern medicine, I would not be alive. I wouldn’t change a thing as far as my musical career is concerned. However, I would change me….I would be more honest with myself.I just wanted to say a million thanks to a few people who have had such a profound affect on my life:To Liam Ryan, the original “Louis Walsh,” — you are an angel!To Charlie Arkins — you’re a genius on the fiddle.To my parents for having me.Finally, thanks to the website for keeping us all alive.All the best,John McGrenra

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