Jim McCann is a legendary figure in Irish folk music.
He had a successful solo career and was also a member of the Dubliners in the 1970s.
As well as Irish music, McCann loves skiffle and rock n roll, and his early influences include Buddy Holly, Lonnie Donegan and Eddie Cochran.
At the height of his career he performed songs from a range of styles including romantic ballads, drinking songs and rebel songs.
He had an extensive knowledge of the background of the songs he sang and he shared that with his audience. He was a fine story teller and had a great sense of humour.
From medicine to music
McCann was born in Dublin in 1944. He studied medicine at University College, Dublin. While he was in the middle of his studies, he took a summer holiday to Birmingham, England. It was here that his interest in folk music began. His summer holiday ended up lasting a year as he spent time performing in local folk clubs as a ‘floor singer’.
He returned to Dublin in 1965 but he dropped out of college to focus on his music. Irish music was popular at the time and there were a number of groups such as The Dubliners and The Wolfe Tones emerging.
He joined the Ludlow Trio shortly after returning to Dublin. They reached number one in the Irish singles charts with The Sea Around Us. They split up in 1967 and McCann embarked on a solo career.
Early solo albums and The McCann Man
He released his debut album, McCann, and also appeared on Telefis Éireann several times. For a while he focused on acting and toured Ireland and Britain in Maureen Potter’s Gaels of Laughter.
His second album, McCanned, followed and he then started to appear regularly on TV. First he made a one off special called, Reflections of Jim McCann, and then he made a series called The McCann Man.
As host of the McCann Man, he met The Dubliners’ Luke Kelly. The two became friends and later appeared together in a production of Jesus Christ Superstar with McCann as Peter and Kelly as King Herod.
Joining the legendary Dubliners