Mighty Avons legend Jimmy Smith passes away
When the history of Ireland is written, there will be a chapter dedicated to the importance of the Irish Showbands. The showband scene marked a point of enormous transition in Ireland when young people embraced the freedom of mass gatherings and dancing.
All social life that came to follow stemmed from the wellspring struck by the likes of Jimmy Smith. Jimmy’s passing last Sunday heralded a sad day for Irish music. Although his importance in Irish culture may be lost to many young people, to those of a certain vintage Jimmy was a giant.
Jimmy was the founder, leader and manager of the Mighty Avons, back in the heyday when showbands ruled the Irish music scene. Three of the Smith brothers from Keelagh, Ballyhaise, were central to the formation of the Mighty Avons. Paddy, Peter and Jimmy were highly accomplished musicians and soon stamped their style on the Mighty Avons sound. In conjunction with the late Larry Cunningham, they achieved international fame.
Jimmy Smith late of Ballyhaise and Oranmore, Galway, was born to James and Mary Smith in 1938 in Keelagh, Ballyhaise.
Jimmy’s foray into show business started with St Bridget’s Ceili Band, while brothers Paddy and Peter were members of a local brass band. This grounding in performance led to the formation of The Mighty Avons in the late 50s.
The Smith brothers and Larry Cunningham’s showmanship was augmented by the musicianship of Mickey Brady, Brian Finlay, Gerry Walsh and Ronnie Griffiths.
The Avons were ready to take on the world, and take it on they did - being one of the first Irish bands to conquer the British Charts with the song ‘A tribute to Jim Reeves’ (also number one in Ireland).
The chart topper brought fame and fortune and they went on to play everywhere in the world from The Albert Hall in London, The Palladium, Carnegie Hall in New York and even playing for Princess Grace and Prince Rainier of Monaco, in Powerscourt Wicklow.
One of their claims to fame was that they pulled in the largest crowd ever to the legendary ‘Galtymore’ in Cricklewood long before fire regulations were more than a recommendation.
Following his departure from The Avons, Jimmy, ever the entrepreneur, set up TTTR radio in Dublin. He later went on to help with the establishment of Galway Bay FM. In paying tribute to the icon of the Showband era, musician Paul Cox said: “Always living life to the full, he was one of life’s great gentlemen, he will be sadly missed.”
For all your Mighty Avons fans, here's Jim Reeves - A Tribute song by Larry Cunningham and the Mighty Avons:
The funeral arrangements for Jimmy Smith have just been published on rip.ie
His funeral service will take place on Thursday, August 19, at 2:20pm in Glasnevin Cerematorium Chapel.
Due to current restrictions, the service will be restricted to a maximum of 50 mourners.
For livestreaming on Thursday please visit the following link:
Jimmy was predeceased by his brother Paddy and sister Mary.
He is sadly missed by his loving children Melissa, Robert and Emma; daughter-in-law Ciarah; son-in-law Simon; grandchildren Oliver, Chloe, Ronan and Rachel; brother Peter, extended family, relatives and friends.
May he rest in peace.