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Special tribute High Kings singer Brian Dunphy to record album of songs with his later father in memory of showband legend

The album of duets will mark the 10th anniversary of his father Sean's passing.


Brian Dunphy and the High Kings have a new release.

Brian Dunphy and the High Kings have a new release.

Brian Dunphy and the High Kings have a new release.

Singer Brian Dunphy of Irish folk supergroup The High Kings is set to record an album of virtual duets with his late father.

Brian's personal tribute to his much-loved showband icon dad, Sean Dunphy, will mark the 10th anniversary of his passing.

Legendary singer Sean, who came second to the UK's Sandie Shaw in the 1967 Eurovision Song Contest with the song, If I Could Choose, died in his sleep in May 2011 at the age of 73.

"Dad was a hero to me and a huge influence on my life, so I would love to be able to do this concept album with all his old songs," Brian tells the Sunday World.

"I think that having Dad and I singing together, the way Natalie Cole did with her father Nat King Cole, would be a lovely way to get all his old songs out there again before his generation slips away.

"It would also be a lovely way to remember him on his 10th anniversary, so that's going to be my project over the next few months now that I have the time to do it due to no live shows.


Brian and Sean

Brian and Sean

Brian and Sean

A native of Dublin's Whitehall, Sean Dunphy had a string of Irish hits in the 1960s and '70s with The Hoedowners, including The Lonely Woods of Upton and When The Fields Were White With Daisies.

Brian says his father was a devoted family man who had to endure the heartache of being forced to spend long periods working away from his wife and four children in America when Ireland's live music scene took a dip in the early 1980s.

"In those days there was no FaceTime, Skype or text to stay in touch, and it cost a fortune per minute to make a call home from the States," he says. "Dad would do a reverse charge call to say, 'Hello, I've landed, I'm grand,' and then he'd be gone.

"But in 1984 I went over with him and got to experience America for the first time. I was there for two months and I would get up and do a few songs at his shows.

"I also loved going out on the road with him when he was touring around Ireland. That's when I caught the bug. And it was amazing to see how much he was idolised by so many people. But Dad was a gentleman, he never had a huge ego, he just took it all in his stride."

Brian wasn't born when Dunphy represented Ireland in the 1967 Eurovision, which was held in Vienna. However, his brother, John, was then five years old and Sean told his young son that he would wink at him on the television that night.


The High Kings recorded their new album last summer.

The High Kings recorded their new album last summer.

The High Kings recorded their new album last summer.

"He had said, 'John, I'm going to wink to you,' and that's exactly what he did as cool as a cucumber in the last chorus when he knew the camera had a close up on him," Brian says.

"He turned to the camera, winked, and it was just perfect. It's there to be seen today on YouTube and it's a little bit of TV gold with the story behind it."

Darren Holden of The High Kings was inspired to write a song about the Irish star following his passing. "Darren wrote a beautiful tribute song to my dad called Sing You Home Again," Brian reveals.

"It mentions a couple of Dad's songs. Dad used to do an impression of John Wayne and there's a lovely line in it that goes, 'I'd love to hear you do your John Wayne one more time.' Darren wrote it on a plane when we were flying from Chicago to New York and he really captured Dad in that song.

"It's a song that has been sitting there for all those years since he passed, but we're hoping that we might be able to do something with that as well in the next few months for his 10-year anniversary."

Next Friday, The High Kings will release a new live album, Home From Home, which they recorded last summer after the lifting of lockdown restrictions.

"As we can't tour live, this is our way of reconnecting with the fans," Brian says. "We came up with the concept of doing The High Kings world tour live from Dublin, where the album was recorded.

"It's got songs from different countries - Green Fields Of France, Wild Colonial Boy from Australia, Nova Scotia and a couple from America, plus the Irish classics like Carrickfergus - to say that we're still all in this together. We'll see each other together again, but for now this is where we're at."

  • The High Kings new live album, Home From Home, will be released next Friday.

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