Black 47

The Celtic influenced American rock band Black 47 (the name derives from the worst year of the potato famine) began when Irish expatriate Larry Kirwan began playing guitar with Chris Byrne, a police office with a facility for different traditional Irish musical instruments such as the tin whistle and pipes, in 1989. They eventually added bass player David Conrad, drummer Thomas Hamlin, saxophonist Jeff Blythe, and multi-instrumentationalist Fred Parcells, and started playing regularly in pubs throughout New York City. The band developed a unique blend of Celtic folk, rock, and reggae, and Kirwan wrote songs with strong political content. They self-released their debut self-titled album in 1991, and then went into the studio with producer Ric Ocasek for 1993’s Fire of Freedom, which included the single “Funky Ceili”. A different celebrity producer, Jerry Harrison, collaborated with them for 1994’s Home of the Brave, which contained “The Big Fellah”, a tribute to Irish political figure Michael Collins. They kept up a live schedule that included well over 100 gigs a year until 2000 when Byrne left the group. The group remained resolutely political, addressing the 9/11 attacks with 2004’s New York Town and opposing the war in Iraq on the 2008 album Iraq. They announced their break-up in 2013, but released a new song, “Stronger and Better”, in 2020 to praise heroes and victims of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Related Artists

Please enable Javascript to view this page competely.