Rockin' Rowley: 'I was never comfortable with being the frontman' - Ray Lynam
Some performers revel in the glow of celebrity, but country singer Ray Lynam admits that, back in the 1970s, stardom didn't sit comfortably on his shoulders.
A shy man with a phenomenal vocal talent, Ray was one of Ireland's top attractions in that era as the lead singer with The Hillbillies band.
"I was never really comfortable with being the frontman," Ray tells me. "I would have much preferred to have been in the background, to be honest." In those times, the man from Moate, Co Westmeath, was a pin-up idol, appearing on the cover of Spotlight magazine, ensuring even more publicity.
"That was the hard work part of it," he laughs today.
Thousands of fans flocked to see Ray Lynam and The Hillbillies in dance halls across the land. He says: "I was very lucky that I was there in the good times. And it helped that I happened to be friends with good musicians."
They were managed by Sean Reilly, who later guided Daniel O'Donnell to superstardom - and members of The Hillbillies would go on to become Daniel's backing band.
"We had a great run, playing six and sometimes seven nights a week during our heyday," Ray recalls. During that time, he had a successful singing partnership with 'Queen of Country' Philomena Begley, including a big hit with 'My Elusive Dreams.'
Ray Lynam & The Original Hillbillies are now back together again for an autumn tour from next month.