The Joe Dolan Mullingar Festival takes place over the August Bank Holiday Weekend in Mullingar.
Joe, Mullingar’s favourite son, was born on 16 October 1939 and died on 26 December 2007 after being ill for a short while.
In the early sixties Joe and his brother Ben formed a band called The Drifters. Soon afterwards the band was renamed to Joe Dolan and The Drifters. They were one of the most popular acts of the Showband era, with hits such as “The Answer to Everything”. The band split in 1968 and Joe embarked on a solo career.
The move left Joe alone, but not for long as he had more success with “Make Me an Island”. The track was a massive hit in England and after a Top of the Pops appearance, as well as regular plays on Radio Luxemburg the popularity of the song greatly increased across Europe and around the world – eventually becoming a number one hit in 14 countries.
It got better with follow-up singles “Teresa” and “You’re Such a Good Looking Woman”. Joe hooked up with writers Roberto Danova and Peter Yellowstone in the mid 1970s to and the 1974 hit “Sweet Little Rock ‘n’ Roller” was their first of many triumphs. It was later recorded by Showaddywaddy, who had a Top 20 hit with the song in 1979 in the UK.
In 1978, he made history when he became the first Western act to tour communist Russia. Further international successes and tours followed, with hits such as “More and More” and “It’s You, It’s You, It’s You” .
In the early eighties Joe achieved major success in Las Vegas for a couple of years. But his fondness for home meant he decided to concentrate instead on Ireland.
Success soared again as one of the biggest selling independent artists of the 1990s with albums such as ‘Endless Magic’ keeping him near the top of the charts. As the decade came to an end Joe hooked up with EMI for a series of albums (such as ‘Joe’s 90s’, ‘21st Century Joe’ and ‘Home Grown’) which saw him tackle more contemporary music from acts as diverse as Oasis, Pulp, Blur, U2, Bruce Springsteen, The Coral, R.E.M., Mundy and his old pal Robbie Williams. Joe was seen in a new light with songs like Blur’s “Universal” and at the Oxegen Festival 2009, Blur’s Damon Albarn dedicated the song to Joe.
Recording continued with the album “Let There Be Love”- and Joe retained his status as a sell out artist. His untimely death in 2007 left Mullingar, Ireland and the World with a space that no one else could fill. Joe was unique and will remembered that way.
After all, “There was No Show Like a Joe Show”.