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Mama's Boys

Mama's Boys were a 1980s hard rock/heavy metal group from County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland featuring the three McManus brothers Pat, a.k.a. "The Professor", (guitar and occasionally fiddle), John (bass and vocals), Tommy (drums). Later in their career they became a four-piece adding Rick Chase on vocals in 1985 who was later replaced by Keith Murrell in 1987 due to Rick's ill-health. Keith was later replaced with Mike Wilson in 1989.


  • Early life 1
  • Councillor to Philip IV 2
  • Literature 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


The McManus brothers, who grew up on a farm near the village of Derrylin, Co. Fermanagh, started off their musical career as award winning traditional Irish musicians, but were inspired by the Irish celtic rock band, Horslips, as well as younger brother Tommy’s passion for the drums to form a rock band. In the late 70s the brothers had become big fans of Horslips and attended their gigs at every possible opportunity. They eventually got to know and became friends with the band members. It was around that time that they started their own band which was originally called Pulse before they changed it to Mama’s Boys. Barry Devlin of Horslips heard about their band and went to see them rehearse at their home. He was suitably impressed and offered them a support slot for Horslips’ 1979 tour.

Although their heroes Horslips mixed traditional music with hard rock and the McManus brothers were top notch traditional musicians, Mama's Boys didn't really go for the celtic fusion sound, apart from the occasional fiddle solo by Pat, but went for a harder edged more heavy metal sound.

By 1980 Mama’s Boys had a bootleg circulating and were touring extensively in Ireland. In 1981 they were invited to support Hawkwind on their UK tour. They recorded and self-financed their first album, a raw blast of rock power entitled Plug It In in 1982 and achieved a hit single in Ireland with the most pop-oriented song on the album, "Needle in the Groove".

The second album Turn It Up was released in 1983. The same year they toured with Thin Lizzy on that band’s farewell tour, played at the Reading Rock Festival and signed a worldwide record deal with Jive Records. The first album released on Jive was a self-titled compilation of Plug It In and Turn It Up with a few new songs added. One of the new songs, a cover of Slade's "Mama Weer All Crazee Now" was released as a single and reached number 54 in the American charts. The video for the song got a lot of airplay on MTV and helped the band to become known in the US which they toured in 1984. On Tuesday 24 January 1984 Mama's Boys played at The Odeon, Birmingham, UK when they were the warm up band to the German heavy metal/rock band Scorpions. They were booed and beer canned off the stage. Coincidentally, the American heavy metal band Quiet Riot also released their cover version of the song at the same time as Mama's Boys, but Quiet Riot's version gained more airplay.

1985’s Power and Passion album broke into the Billboard top 100 in the US and the band toured in the US, Europe and Japan. During the European leg of the tour Tommy had a relapse of leukemia which he had been treated for as a child and a replacement drummer Jimmy DeGrasso was brought in to complete the tour. The recovering Tommy rejoined the tour in Ireland but had to be rushed back to hospital after another relapse.

In 1987, former Airrace vocalist Keith Murrell was brought in after Rick Chase started having trouble with his vocal cords and they recorded the album Growing Up the Hard Way. Jive Records chose Murrell with the idea of giving them a more polished commercial sound but it backfired as the unique raw sound of the band was replaced by a bland AOR type sound. This was also contributed by the Producer Phil Begley who produced the single "Pop music" by "M". The Jive contract, which ended that year, was not renewed and Murrell left shortly after to join Cliff Richard as a backing singer.

In 1989 with a new vocalist, Mike Wilson, and under new management they moved their base to the UK. The live album Live Tonite was released in 1991 and the band toured extensively in Europe. They released the album Relativity in 1992. While on tour in Italy in 1993, Tommy became ill again and the tour had to be cancelled. The following year Tommy underwent a bone marrow transplant but tragically he did not survive. His brothers were devastated and Mama’s Boys did not continue after this blow. On the first anniversary of Tommy’s death John composed a traditional lament on the low whistle for his brother and this led to himself and Pat revisiting their traditional Irish music roots and forming a celtic/new age group called Celtus.

In 2003, Pat McManus joined with Irish rock band 'Indian' for an album and live shows. Pat is on line with a searing lead on the song Burning it Up. He also shows with the annual Rory Gallagher festival at Ballyshannon. His playing is immense but sadly not well known in USA. Pat McManus has his own band with Marty McDermott on bass and Paul Faloon on drums. They have just released a new live CD and DVD called Live and in time. The live recording features songs from Pat's previous CD In My Own Time and Mama's Boys songs.

Band members

Former members

  • Patrick Francis 'Pat' McManus – lead guitar, fiddle, backing vocals (1978–1993)
  • John McManus – bass, lead vocals, backing vocals, low whistle, tin whistle, uilleann pipes (Irish bagpipes) (1978–1993)
  • Thomas 'Tommy' McManus – drums, bodhran (Irish drum), backing vocals (1978–1993) (1966 - 16 November 1994)
  • Rick Chase - lead vocals (1985-1986)
  • Mickey Fenlon – lead vocals (1986–1987)
  • Keith Murrell – lead vocals (1987–1989)
  • Connor McKeon – lead vocals (1989-1990)
  • Mike Wilson – lead vocals (1990–1992)
  • Alan Williams – keyboards (1989–1993)
  • Jimmy DeGrasso – drums (1985–1986)



  • Official Bootleg (1980)
  • Plug It In (1982)
  • Turn It Up (1983)
  • Mama's Boys (1984)
  • Power and Passion (1985)
  • Growing Up the Hard Way (1987)
  • Live Tonite (1991)
  • Relativity (1992)


  • "Belfast City Blues" (1982)
  • "In the Heat of the Night" (1982)
  • "Needle in the Groove" (1982)
  • "Too Little of You to Love" (1983)
  • "Midnight Promises" (1984)
  • "Mama Weer All Crazee Now" (1984)
  • "Needle in the
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