The Big Interview with Tony Brook

We have been listening to his unmistakable voice on TippFM for many years, inviting him into our homes over the airways, and delighting us with his good humour and great choice of music…… but the legend that is Tony Brook has so much more to tell……!

I sat down with him just before his show last week and we talked showbiz, family and holidays!

So Tony, how did you get into the Music and Radio Business?

The music came first! When I was about 7, my mother taught me how to play accordian and we used to play in a little band at home. Then I became interested in the drums and after that it was the drums for me.

But, when I was very young I used to enjoy listening to the radio and I thought that would be a lovely thing to do as well, so I fell in love with show business as a child!

I remember listening to all of the radio stations in the early days. I used to put my hand up on the radio,( we had a really old brown radio, and then a transistor) and listen to Radio Caroline, Radio London, Radio Scotland, Radio Luxembourg and I thought that must be brilliant to be out there just playing the records! So I was always interested in that – as a sideline !

But show business always fascinated me – all aspects of show business – I have a huge interest in how things work, how television and radio shows are produced and I was very lucky to get a chance to do that when we did the Late Late Show and other shows a few time with the band, it was brilliant to see what goes on in the background and how its done – I just found it very interesting..

So that’s why you do it – because you love show business and any aspect of it – But I suppose its all about the music really?

Yes – music is the key to it all.. (Laughs!)

You would have met some very big names and played at some great gigs over the years…

We’ve met various people through the years, some of the biggest names would be our very own Irish artists really and when we did our reunion tour with The Champions, we were able to travel around and meet some great people in the business.

A few years ago, I was in America, on a trip during one of my significant birthdays. My good lady wife and daughter gave me a fantastic present of a trip to Nashville, Memphis and Branson Missouri, so I got the chance to do some interviews with the late George Hamilton IV, who was always very good to Irish artists, and Dolly Parton’s sister Stella. Also, when Daniel O’Donnell was performing in Branson, he very kindly did an interview with me at the back of the theatre.

So how did you become part of the Champions?

I was playing in a local band at home, playing the accordian and the drums and there was a four piece band in Ballycotton, near my home place, that were looking for a drummer. Their drummer had decided to become a lighthouse keeper – he was in love with that job and wanted to dedicate his time to that so they asked me to join them to replace him! A couple of years later that former drummer came back – he left the lighthouse…. The Champions were looking for a bass player so he took up the bass guitar and he bacame our bass player!

He remained the bass player and we remained the four piece nucleus of The Champions since the 1960s. In the early 70s then, we decided to expand to a six piece to play the larger ballrooms and thats when Gina and Dale Hayes joined us and we became Gina, Dale Hayes and The Champions!

You have so much experience, with performing on stage, and as presenter on TippFM for the last 25 years! What advice would you give to some one starting off in either the music or radio business….

Well, the standard advice is always to be yourself; be original, don’t be like somebody else because that person is there already….

But always try something new…if you are original enough to have some thing new going for you thats going to be your main asset.

Great advice …. so who’s your favourite music artist or songwriter?

I have loads of them!!! HAHAHA! But I love Elvis! And the Beatles – I remember them starting off – I used to keep a scrap book when they were starting and I was young – with all their stuff – newspaper cut outs, photos and articles – I probably still have it at home !
It was all about the Beatles from the beginning and its something I can say – I remember them at the start…!

And then all the Beat groups at the time, learning their names and what instruments they played, where they were from – I got to know them and their background
I used to buy a lot of chart books, biographies and books about artists and I still love finding out about them.

I find when I’m doing the radio shows now, it nice to be able to say something extra about them, because people hear the names of artists but they never know the basic things about them, such as where they are from. I usually learn a bit about them whenever I play their music – it helps make a connection to the artist and it might just be fresh news to someone…

So you read music books and biographies….

Yes – they are my favourite and I suppose things move so fast in life that it takes me a while to read each one as I’m always on the go! I read proper books with pages – no ebooks for me !

But I love shorter articles most of all – easier for me to get through!
I do love all of the background information on people, music, bands and venue.. and it forms part of the research for the job on TippFM!

Its surprising what you discover about people, the more you read about them.
These days, sure, all you need to do is go on line and look it up but I still prefer to get it from a book…!

Tony you are the happiest and nicest man in radio and you are loved here for that… but what makes you cross?

I get sad when people are cruel to each other. I watch the television programmes where there’s war and children that are hurt…

So I get sad more than cross really – at man’s inhumanity to man.

Yes…’s just terrible to see what people do to other people – war especially, or when something bad happens to someone.

I don’t think people should be hurting each other.

So on the flip side then Tony.. what makes you happy?

Ah , my family, music and sunshine – oh and holidays and chocolate as well!

Tune in to ‘Shades of Green with Tony Brook’