All the members of The Saw Doctors had been raised Catholic and their first number one single, I Useta Lover, was about attending mass.
It wasn’t a deeply religious song however; it was about a youngster who has lustful feelings for an older girl in the church.
Not surprisingly it didn’t go down too well with the Catholic Church but that didn’t stop it spending nine weeks at number one and becoming the biggest selling single in Irish history.
Following the success of their first two singles, they released their debut album, If This Is Rock and Roll, I Want My Old Job Back, which also reached number one in Ireland.
Their second album, All The Way From Tuam, followed in 1992. It contained the number one single, Hay Wrap as well as classic live songs, Green and Red of Mayo, and You’ve Got Me on the Run.
In 1993, Tony Lambert, who was the band’s keyboard and accordion player, won approximately €1m on the Irish National Lottery. It was a wonderful rags to riches story as Lambert had been living in a converted bus when he had bought his ticket. Following his win, he left the band and bought an old house in Galway. He restored the house and built a recording studio.
By the time the band had released their third album in 1996, they had left their major record company and set up their own label, Shamtown. They had also had their first chart success in the UK with the EP, Small bit of Love.
The third album was called Same Oul’ Town and was a top 10 hit in the UK. It also included the singles World of Good, To Win Just Once and the double A-side, Clare Island/Everyday. The album contained just one song that featured Lambert. It was recorded shortly before his lottery win and ironically, it was titled, To Win Just Once.
Following the success of the album, the band played at major festivals like Glastonbury and Oxegen and also toured the UK and the US.
Their fourth album, Songs From Sun Street, was released in 1998. The album contained songs that they had been playing live for a number of years like Galway and Mayo and I’ll Be On My Way. The following year they wrote music for the Walter Foote film, The Tavern – they also appeared in the movie. Read more on how The Saw Doctors were honoured with a lifetime achievement.