The group began in the late 1960s as "The Dooley Family", composed of brothers Jim (vocals), John (guitar and vocals) and Frank (guitar and vocals) with sisters Marie, Anne & Kathy (all vocals). Based in Ilford, Essex, the group's work was mostly limited to theatres and hotels because the three youngest members were still at school and therefore not allowed to perform in pubs. They appeared in Variety shows alongside popular entertainers such as Bob Monkhouse, Frankie Howerd, Norman Collier and Anne Shelton.
In 1972 they were joined by friend Bob Walsh (bass guitar) who was born in Manchester. His brother Vince Miller was a club compere and ran a booking agency with colleague Brian Mills. The pair took the group to Manchester for some trials in Northern clubs. They went down well with audiences and were told that they could achieve greater success if they were to base themselves permanently in the North. As a result they moved to Worsley, Manchester, during 1973 — without Marie, who was by now pregnant with her first child, and did not feel she could commit to the band.
Following their move to the North, most of the gigs were booked by Jim and Bob (who spent their evenings visiting working men's clubs, selling the act). At that time, major agents were not interested in this kind of family group, and it took a lot of work on the band's part to convince them otherwise. In the meantime they continued polishing their act and playing clubs. Eventually, they signed a management deal with Ken Wild; he introduced them to drummer Alan Bogan, who joined the group.
They gained their first recording contract with John Schroeder who signed them to his Alaska Records company in 1974, and released two singles. The first of these was "Hands Across the Sea" (although its release was delayed due to the song being entered into the Song for Europe contest, to be sung by Olivia Newton-John).
In 1975 they were invited to tour in Eastern Europe. During the tour they recorded a live album at the Rossia Hall in Moscow (The Dooley Family in Moscow, Live Concert at Rossia Hall, October 29th 1975). This was a couple of years before they had a chart hit in their homeland, and some three years before Elton John's concerts in Russia.
Back home in 1976, The Dooleys (as they had now become) recorded the theme tune for an adult educational programme on BBC Television, featuring Bob Hoskins, called On the Move. Their live act was also winning them awards in the clubs such as "Best Group" at the 1976 Club Mirror National Club Acts Awards.
Aware that Billy Ocean was in the UK chart with a song written by Ben Findon, who had also written their first single, they contacted him and he went to see them performing. While there he offered them a recording contract with GTO Records.
In the summer of 1977 (a decade after they were formed) The Dooleys had their first hit with "Think I'm Gonna Fall in Love With You". The existing members of the family were joined in the summer of 1978 by the youngest member of the group, Helen (keyboards). Subsequent UK hits gave them the record of being the largest family act ever featured on a hit single.
A string of hits followed with varying degrees of success, and they travelled around Europe and the Far East as one of the busiest live acts around. Their chart run came to a peak in 1979 when they scored their two biggest hits: "Wanted" and "The Chosen Few" "Wanted" was also a big hit in Japan, where it reached No1, and led to them being entered into the Tokyo Music Festival in 1980. They won the "Gold Award" (second place) with the song "Body Language" (a song written by Ben Findon, Mike Myers and Robert Puzey), which also went to No1.
Despite The Dooleys international success, the hits in their homeland started to dry up, though the act were still a major club draw, winning the "Club Mirror Club Acts Award" for Best Group in 1981. Shortly after, Anne and Bob started a family which led to them leaving the group. Helen also decided to leave at the same time, and the threesome departed for a new life in South Africa.
Anne was replaced by a former Miss Ireland, Vicki Roe (aka Valerie Roe), while Bob's replacement on bass was Gaz Morgan. Prior to their Tokyo Music Festival success, The Dooleys had employed John "Dixie" Taggart as Musical Director and keyboard player. Taggart took over all keyboards duties after Helen's departure.
By the mid 1980s, brothers John and Frank, and drummer Alan Bogan, all left the group. They were replaced by a succession of other musicians such as drummer Paul Dean, although Jim and Kathy continued. John, Frank and Alan formed "The New Dooleys" about twelve months after leaving, but by 1992 it was all over, and both groups had retired from performing. In recent years, The Dooley brothers (Jim, John, Joe and Frank) have recorded a collection of new songs which was released early in 2007.
The group reunited for a one-off performance on 6 January 2006, at Helderberg Nature Reserve near Cape Town, South Africa.
More recently Helen, Anne and Bob (now living in Somerset West near Cape Town) have a band called Shiraz.
|Release date||Album||Record label||UK Singles Chart|
|1974||"Hands across the Sea"||Alaska||-|
|"Sha La La Lullaby"||-|
|1976||"On the Move"||Beeb||-|
|1977||"Think I'm Gonna Fall in Love with You"||GTO||13|
|"Love of My Life"||9|
|1978||"Don't Take it Lyin' Down"||60|
|"A Rose Has to Die"||11|
|1979||"Honey I'm Lost"||24|
|"The Chosen Few"||7|
|"In a Riddle"||-|
|1981||"Taken at the Flood"||-|
|"And I Wish"||52|
|1982||"Will You or Wont You"||-|
|1983||"Flavour of the Month"||R'n'R||-|
|1985||"New Beginning"||New Merseybeat||-|
|Release date||Album||Record label||UK Albums Chart|
|1979||The Best of The Dooleys||6|
|The Chosen Few||56|
|1983||In Car Stereo||R'n'R||-|