Dropkick Murphys Biography
Dropkick Murphys Biography
Dropkick Murphys are an Irish-American Celtic punk band formed in Quincy, Massachusetts, USA. First playing together in the basement of a friend’s barbershop, they blended traditional folk rock and punk rock known as Celtic punk. Their influences include Stiff Little Fingers, The Pogues, The Clash, Thin Lizzy, The Dubliners, and the Swingin’ Utters.
The band has made a name for itself and built a following as a result of their non-stop touring all over the world and their famous St. Patrick’s Day weekend shows, which are held in and around Boston. The group is also well-known for their patronage of the Boston Red Sox and Bruins.
There are differing stories as to the origin of the band’s name.
Former band member Marc Orrell has said:
The Dropkick Murphy will come and get you if you don’t go to sleep tonight. It’s a rehab center, I think it’s in Connecticut. I think it was the guy who used to come around late at night for all the drunks, like if you were too drunk to drive home, he would come and get you and put you in this hole that you couldn’t get out until you were sober enough, I don’t know. There’s a bunch a stories, it’s also a boxer, a bunch of things, a rehab center in Connecticut, grandparents used to scare kids with it.
Dropkick Murphys was originally formed in 1996 in Quincy, Massachusetts. The band first started playing in the basement of a friend’s barbershop and soon found that people liked their music, and as a result began to tour and record.
The band put out a series of EPs and were signed by Hellcat Records. In 1998 they released their first full length album, Do or Die. Lead singer Mike McColgan left the band later that year with his life long dream of becoming a Boston firefighter, and was replaced by The Bruisers lead singer Al Barr, who was referred to Ken Casey by Derek TC NYSR producer/founder of the groundbreaking 90’s Oi!/Skampilation series at the Middle East Club in Boston. In 1999, they released their follow-up album, The Gang’s All Here. In 2001 they released their third album, Sing Loud, Sing Proud!. The album showcased their developing sound as the band widely progressed from being a 4-piece punk rock outfit, and included collaborations with Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan and Cock Sparrer’s Colin McFaull. It also marked a significant lineup change for the band. Original guitarist Rick Barton was replaced by former The Ducky Boys guitarist, James Lynch and Marc Orrell, and additional instruments were added and played by new members Ryan Foltz and Robbie “Spicy McHaggis” Mederios, whose name was inspired by a McDonald’s menu item while the band was on a 1999 tour in Scotland. Shortly after, both Foltz and McHaggis left the band, being replaced by mandolin/guitar player Tim Brennan and bagpipes player Scruffy Wallace.
Their next album, Blackout, was released in 2003. The new album included the radio hit “Walk Away,” as well as the fan favorite song “Fields of Athenry”. Notably “The Dirty Glass” with female vocals from Stephanie Dougherty (Deadly Sins) is a song about a bar in Quincy, Massachusetts called Darcy’s. The song “Time To Go” was written about the Boston Bruins, and the band performed the song live at the Fleet Center during at a Bruins game during intermission at a November 2003 game. Also in 2003 the Murphys were on the Vans Warped Tour.
For the 2004 baseball season the band released a re-working of an old Boston Red Sox song, “Tessie”. “Tessie” would be used in the major motion picture Fever Pitch and was included on the EA Sports MVP Baseball 2005 soundtrack. The band was invited to the Fever Pitch premiere of the movie which was held at Fenway Park where the video was also shot. The song continues to be played at Red Sox games along with Dirty Water after games the team wins.
In 2005, the Dropkick Murphys released Singles Collection Volume 2, featuring covers, b-sides, and other material that didn’t make it onto previous albums, and the band contributed a recording of “We Got the Power” to Rock Against Bush, Vol. 2.
Their fifth studio album, The Warrior’s Code on Hellcat Records, was released on , 2005. It features the singles “Sunshine Highway”, “The Warrior’s Code” as well as the bonus track, “Tessie”. It also includes “I’m Shipping Up to Boston”, a song that was inspired by a Woody Guthrie poem the band found in his archives also called “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” which is featured in the 2006 Academy Award winning film The Departed, Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of the Hong Kong crime thriller Infernal Affairs (Scorsese mentioned the band in an interview after he won his first Oscar). Two videos, one with and without footage from The Departed were made in response to the overwhelming response to the band’s new hit song. The song was also featured in The Simpsons episode “The Debarted.” “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” became the walk-out song of Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, who would dance an Irish jig to the song several times throughout the 2007 Red Sox Championship season. During the team’s victory parade, Papelbon did the jig while the Murphys played the song on the same float.
The song “Last Letter Home” contains excerpts from personal letters between Sgt. Andrew Farrar, his mother, and his wife. The following is taken from the album notes:
We had already finished this song that was based on general correspondences to & from the soldiers serving in Iraq, when we were contacted by the family of Sgt. Andrew Farrar who had recently died while serving there. The family wanted to tell us he was a big supporter of the Dropkick Murphys. They also passed on a letter that he had written to his mother shortly before his death in which he thanks her for sending him a Dropkick Murphys CD & said that if anything should happen to him while in Iraq, he would like one of our songs played at his funeral. He also left behind a wife, Melissa and two young boys Tyler & Liam. His tour of duty in Iraq was coming to an end & he was due to come home & renew his wedding vows with Melissa to another song of ours, “Forever”. Sgt Farrar died on January 28th, on his 31st birthday. We were present at his funeral to grant his wish and played “Fields of Athenry” as his casket entered the church. This song was re-written to include excerpts from that letter.
The band released a single, with the family’s permission, including the Andrew Farrar-dedicated “Fields Of Athenry” and “The Last Letter Home”. All proceeds went to the Farrar family.
In 2007, the band issued their sixth album and major label debut The Meanest of Times. it was released by Warner Bros. Records under the Dropkick Murphys own label, Born & Bred Records. On , 2007, the band played on a small stage in Fenway Park prior to Game 7 of the 2007 American League Championship Series. On , 2007, the band performed on a flatbed truck during the Boston Red Sox rolling rally to celebrate their 2007 World Series Championship, playing “I’m Shipping Up to Boston”, “Dirty Water”, “Tessie”, “The State of Massachusetts”, “For Boston”, and “Sunshine Highway”, to celebrate. Red Sox relief pitcher Jonathan Papelbon performed his trademark dance on the flatbed with them. Fellow Red Sox relief pitchers Hideki Okajima and Mike Timlin also rode on the band’s flatbed.
In 2008 Marc Orrell announced he was leaving the band and that Tim Brennan would replace him as a full-time guitarist. Tim’s duties will be taken over by Jeff DaRosa.
To tie in with St. Patrick’s Day, a free Dropkick Murphys track pack for Guitar Hero III on the Xbox Live Marketplace and the Playstation Network was released on 15 March 2008 containing: “Famous For Nothing”; “(F)lannigan’s Ball” and “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya” from their latest album, “The Meanest of Times”. Also, the song “The State Of Massachusetts” is available as downloadable content for Guitar Hero II for the Xbox 360. In July 2009, the song “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” was released as a downloadable track for Guitar Hero World Tour, and was also released in the video game Rock Band the following month.
In 2008 frontman Ken Casey re-opened McGreevys Pub, which is said to be the first sports bar ever. The bar has drawn good reviews for both its food and atmosphere. The Murphys have also continued touring, including a number of dates in July set to feature The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. At their July 10, 2008 concert date at LeLacheur Park in Lowell, Massachusetts, they announced that the show was being recorded and would be released as their next live album. They made similar announcements during shows in Portland, Maine and Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The band also stated at the Pawtucket show that the sellout crowd of 10,060 was the largest in the band’s history. On Thursday, March 12 2009, the band played the first of a series of seven St Patrick’s Day shows at Boston’s House of Blues, announcing that the series was to become a DVD/Live Album combination, to be released later in 2009. They are also aiming to release a new studio album some time close to St Patrick’s day 2010.
On April 22, 2009, the Dropkick Murphys joined Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band onstage in Boston for his Working on a Dream Tour, playing ‘Glory Days’ and ‘American Land’, and the band’s guitarist proposed to his girlfriend Diana onstage and was following by the Springsteen song ‘So Young And In Love’.
On June 16, 2009 the band opened up for Aerosmith at the Comcast Center in Mansfield, Massachusetts, in a “Hometown Heroes” concert, they later joined Aerosmith onstage to perform “Dirty Water”.
“I’m Shipping Up to Boston” also became the offical song advertising the AFL or Australian Rules Football, featuring on the ad promoting the sport in Australia.
Dropkick Murphys have been known for supporting working class and union causes, and have a strong relationship with the AFL-CIO. The band has said that they are all Democrats, and during the 2004 United States presidential election were part of Punkvoter, a political activist group dedicted to defeating George W. Bush. That year they also appeared on the Rock Against Bush, Vol. 2 compilation contributing the song “”We Got the Power”.
Al Barr ? lead vocals
Ken Casey ? bass guitar, lead vocals
Matt Kelly ? drums, bodhran, vocals
James Lynch ? guitar, vocals
Scruffy Wallace ? bagpipes, tin whistle
Tim Brennan ? guitar, accordion, vocals
Jeff DaRosa ? acoustic guitar, banjo, bouzouki, keyboard, mandolin, whistle, organ, vocals.
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