Sunday 24 September 2017

A harsh turn for musical duo after 30 years of chart success

Sam Smyth

Foster and Allen made a fortune the old-fashioned way and even dressed as 18th Century troubadours to appear on 'Top of the Pops' in 1982.

But there was nothing nostalgic about the bill for their golden years of the 1980s and 1990s when it was delivered in the High Court yesterday.

Mr Justice John Hedigan praised their talents in court yesterday and noted that as entertainers they had brought "great joy" to many.

However, the judge added that that while he was sorry, the court was "satisfied to rule against them".

Maybe there will be a "pension tour", the same sort of roadshow where other ageing musicians like The Rolling Stones top up their investment portfolios.

Back in their heyday of the early 1980s, they packed every venue where they appeared and sold CDs by the skipful.

Their first hit in Ireland, 'A Bunch of Thyme', was released in Britain in 1982 they were invited on to 'Top of the Pops' when it reached number 18 in the charts.

They would never live down the ridicule that followed their appearance dressed as troubadours on the ultra-hip show.

They couldn't understand the mocking from people who wore very bizarre costumes and make-up though the Glam Rock era.

Foster and Allen explained that their outfits were costumes made for 'Barry Lyndon', Stanley Kubrick's Oscar-winning movie.

They were touring in the United States when their big break came in Britain but the same single went on to top the charts in Australia and New Zealand.

A follow-up single, 'Old Flames', also went into the British charts and their first tour of the UK in 1983 was boosted by the sale of 'Maggie', which went to 27 in the charts there.

Foster and Allen sold out many of their concerts abroad and their knack of choosing beautiful melodies attracted an audience beyond the Irish diaspora.

Their business affairs were handled by musician-turned-senator Donie Cassidy, who never missed an opportunity to promote the artists of whom he was so proud.

In 2005, they celebrated their 30th anniversary together with the release of 'Foster and Allen Sing the Number Ones'.

Business boomed for more than 30 years and while the Revenue had every sympathy in relation to their dealings with Patrick Russell (their tax advisor), it was not relevant to the proceedings.

Now each of them has to pay the taxman €3m after trading for more than a generation in instant nostalgia.

Irish Independent

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