Mama's Boys were a 1980s hard rock/heavy metal group from County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland featuring the three McManus brothers Pat, a.k.a. 'The Professor", (guitar and occasionally fiddle), John (bass and vocals), Tommy (drums). Later in their career they became a four-piece adding Rick Chase on vocals in 1985 who was later replaced by Keith Murrell in 1987 due to Rick's ill-health. Keith was later replaced with Mike Wilson in 1989.
Although their heroes Horslips mixed traditional music with hard rock and the McManus brothers were top notch traditional musicians, Mama's Boys didn't really go for the celtic fusion sound, apart from the occasional fiddle solo by Pat, but went for a harder edged more heavy metal sound.
By 1980 Mama’s Boys had a bootleg circulating and were touring extensively in Ireland. In 1981 they were invited to support Hawkwind on their UK tour. They recorded and self-financed their first album, a raw blast of rock power entitled ‘Plug It In’ in 1982 and achieved a hit single in Ireland with the most pop-oriented song on the album, ‘Needle In The Groove’.
The second album ‘Turn It Up’ was released in 1983. The same year they toured with Thin Lizzy on that band’s farewell tour and played at the Reading Rock Festival and signed a worldwide record deal with Jive Records. The first album released on Jive was a self-titled compilation of ‘Plug It In’ and ‘Turn It Up’ with a few new songs added. One of the new songs, a cover of Slade's 'Mama Weer All Crazee Now' was released as a single and reached number 54 in the American charts. The video for the song got a lot of airplay on MTV and helped the band to become known in the US which they toured in 1984. Coincidentily, the American heavy metal band Quiet Riot also released their cover version of the song at the same time as Mama's Boys but Quiet Riot's version gained more airplay.
1985’s ‘Power And Passion’ album broke into the Billboard top 100 in the US and the band toured in the US, Europe and Japan. During European leg of the tour Tommy had a relapse of leukemia which he had been treated for as a child and a replacement drummer Jimmy DeGrasso was brought in to complete the tour. The recovering Tommy rejoined the tour in Ireland but had to be rushed back to hospital after another relapse.
In 1987 vocalist Keith Murrell was brought in after Rick Chase started having trouble with his vocal cords and they recorded the album “Growing Up The Hard Way”. Jive Records chose Murrell with the idea of giving them a more polished commercial sound but it backfired as the unique raw sound of the band was replaced by a bland AOR type sound. This was also contributed by the Producer Phil Begley who produced the single "Pop music" by "M". The Jive contract, which ended that year, was not renewed and Keith Murrell was let go.
In 1989 with a new vocalist, Mike Wilson, and under new management they moved their base to the UK. The live album ‘Live Tonite’ was released in 1991 and the band toured extensively in Europe. They released the album ‘Relativity’ in 1992. While on tour in Italy in 1993, Tommy became ill again and the tour had to be canceled. The following year Tommy underwent a bone marrow transplant but tragically he did not survive. His brothers were devastated and Mama’s Boys did not continue after this blow. On the first anniversary of Tommy’s death John composed a traditional lament on the low whistle for his brother and this led to himself and Pat revisiting their traditional Irish music roots and forming a celtic/new age group called Celtus.
In 2003, Pat McManus joined with Irish rock band 'Indian' for an album and live shows.
Pat has his own band called Pat McManus and Hi-Voltage with Paul McCann on bass and Sean O'Reilly on drums. They have just released a new cd called "In My Own Time."
John McManus is currently playing with Eddie Clarke in the re-united Fastway.