He left school before he was aged 14 with his "golden trumpet" to join a local showband and today Johnny Carroll is still on the road.
It all started when his father borrowed money to buy a trumpet for his musical son. Little did he know then how much that would change the life of the eight-year-old Roscommon lad.
After collecting the trumpet from the local railway station, on Christmas Eve 1955, he brought it home.
"I had never seen anything so beautiful in all my life -- time just seemed to stand still. The whole family stared in amazement at the wondrous object before them," he writes in his newly published autobiography, Oh Mein Papa, the title of his best-known hit. He had never played a trumpet before -- but he knew the scales and when he blew into it the music that came out was so magical his father said: "At least son, at last, we have got the sound I have been looking for."
Living in Castlerea, Co Roscommon, his father sent him down to join the local brass band as a young fella -- but each week he would be sent home.
"There was nothing else to do in those days and everybody was older than me -- so I'd never get a place in the band. Then after a long time they got fed up turning me away and I was told to sit down and play."
A chance encounter with the local showband, The Premier Aces, led to his first gig before his 14th birthday.
"I remember they had bottles of beer hidden behind the music stand. My father, who was a painter in the Mental Hospital in Roscommon, and my mother didn't really want me to go, but they said I could do it for a few months. That was 51 years ago," he says.
Since then he's travelled all over the world and produced 10 albums -- and he's still travelling. Whether it's the by-roads of Ireland or on foreign travels in Spain or Australia, the name of Johnny Carroll and his trumpet can still fill the halls.
He has four children and now lives in Barna, Co Galway. His first wife, Stella, died in 1986 and he says he was "very fortunate" to meet and marry Ann Sheehan, whose family run the Devon Inn in Templeglantine, Co Limerick.
His autobiography, Oh Mein Papa, is published by Philly Books in Portadown, Co Armagh.