On this page we start with a
photo of Johnny as an infant and then Johnny takes up the
story starting when he was 12 years old and taking us through
his early rock and roll bands 'Jeremiah Henry' and 'Sweet Street'
until the time he joined Horslips.
Johhny Fean An Infant
Here's the photo from the very
early days. Johnny, aged two and a half, is the baby in the
photo. He's held there in the arms of his father Jim Fean. The
lady in white beside Jim is Maureen Fean (nee Murray), Johnny's
mum. Johnny was the first born of Jim and Maureen. The occasion
was a family event for Len Cusack (mid photo in front of
Maureen) and Noleen Cusack (nee Murray). The people in the
photo are explained in the text below.
Back Row (Right to left)
1: Don Murray, brother of Maureen - Johnny's uncle
2: Baby Johnny Fean
3: Jim Fean, Johnny's Father
4: Maureen Fean (nee Murray), Johnny's Mother
5: May Cusack - (Len's Sister)
6: Rena Elliott (nee Murray), sister of Maureen - Johnny's Aunt
7: Cecelia Cussack - (Len's Sister)
8: Kitty Staunton (nee Cussack) (Len's Sister)
9: Maurice Staunton (Kitty's Husband)
Middle Row (Right to left)
1: Daniel Murray, Maureen's Father, Johnny's Grand
2: Noleen Cussack (Nee Murray), sister of Maureen - Johnny's
3: Len Cussack, Noleen's Husband, Maureen's brother in-law.
4: Mr Cussack, Len's father.
5: Nora Murray, Maureen's mother, Johnny's grandmother
Front Row Kids (Right to left)
1: Len's Niece
2: Len's other Niece
3: Geraldine Murray, Maureen's sister, Johnny's aunt
4: Anne Murray, Maureen's sister, Johnny's aunt
John Fean's School Days
Guido DiVito unearthed a couple of newspaper
clippings of bands 'Jeremiah Henry' and 'Sweet Street'
he prompted a few questions about the earlier musical days of Johnny
Fean. Below Johnny talks of things he
remembers from the years 1963
Johnny, takes up
the thread from around the time he was 12 years old. It was in Shannon 1963....
"Now that my memory has been a bit unlocked I'm starting to remember
of the musical journey and my school days. I
got my first electric guitar and became involved with my first
band when I was 12 years old. At that time, 1963, I
was attending the Christian
Brothers School in Limerick city. After that I spent some time in Ennis at the
Technical School before moving on to the Comprehensive School in
Shannon, I think it was Ireland's
first Comprehensive school and it's still there.
Both those newspaper clippings
were sent to me by my old friend Guido DiVito. Guido was
the drummer and vocals with Jeremiah Henry. As you might
guess from the name, Guido's parents were Italian, they owned
and chips cafes in Limerick city."
Left to right: Johnny Fean (Guitar & Vocals), Joe O'Donnell (Electric
Fiddle), Noel Franklin ( Bass), Eamon Walsh (Drums) and
The text from the cutting reads:
"and the final photo is of Limerick rockers of
flower-power '68 Sweet Street, which when viewed gets you
wondering and sussing - haven't I seen some of them faces in a
more recent state??? Yes, indeed folks. The young gentleman on the
left with the popular head cut of the day, the checked jacket
and the Paul McCartney jumper is none other than the bould Johnny
Fean who now (I'm sure you all know) provides the tasty
guitar sounds within the Horslips line up. . . Directly behind
Johnny you have another well known figure of International rock,
the one and only Joe O'Donnell, East of Eden's master violinist.
And on the extreme right the legendary
Eugene Wallace. The two other boys are
Noel Franklin and Eamon Walsh. . .
And that's about it, short and sweet. See you next week, eh?"
Johnny, "The Sweet Street photo was taken late 1967 or early 1968
in Limerick. The band was formed by Joe O'Donnell in
Limerick, 1967. I was living in Shannon and still going to school,
the Comprehensive, at that time.
The musical style of the Sweet Street was very much U.S. West Coast
along with English Psychedelic music. This music was very much what
prevailed in '67. In our set list we played material from Jefferson Airplane, The
Byrds, (Eight Miles High), Tim
Rose, Tim Hardin, Cream, Hendrix, Stevie Winwood's
'Traffic', (Mr. Fantasy),
Steve Marriott and some others I can't
remember. We played mostly in Limerick and
"The only time we
played in Dublin was a gig at the Stella Maris tennis club
in the Dublin suburbs. Apparently at a later time
Cream performed there, the only time they ever played
a gig anywhere Southern Ireland!
We played quite
regularly in Limerick in those days. Limerick
had a thriving beat club and local school dance scene back
We used to play in the 006 Club, in Cork, which is where Rory
and Taste were just starting to make waves. The 006
became Rory's stomping ground. Our biggest gig happened in the 006 club when we played support
to John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers! It was 1968 and Mick Taylor was the
guitarist in the
Bluesbreakers by then,
having taken over from Peter Green.
I was 16 years old, and I can still remember vividly the
excitement of watching John Mayall come onstage, and seeing for the first
time from only about a foot away, the 'Sunburst' Les Paul
Standard that Mick
Taylor was cradling as he made his was through the crowd and onto the
stage! When he struck the first few notes it was incredible, a truly
magical moment, never forgotten! I stood transfixed for the entire
Another story that goes with that night is that Mick Taylor asked to
borrow Joe O'Donnell's 100 watt amp and stack, two by
four 12inch cabinets, and since we were doing support it was already set up
onstage. Joe of course obliged but during the
Bluesbreakers gig one of
Joe's 12inch speakers got blown. Of
course gig continued, but Joe wasn't all that pleased! There was no reason to be annoyed
though because John Mayall sorted it out at the
end of the night.
We got word that John Mayall was quite impressed by the
band, especially so by Joe's electric violin playing, which as far as we knew at that time had never been
used in a rock group. It was pretty unique, well.... apart from one American group
called the Flock who had featured electric violin. By co-incidence the next album that John Mayall
recorded called 'Bare Wires' featured electric violin, played by Sugarcane Harris, an
American. He was a great player and I thought it was a great
Unfortunately the Sweet Street never
managed to record anything. We were together for something under 2
years, maybe only 16 month, disbanding
sometime in 1969. Joe O'Donnell moved to Dublin for a short time
then went on to join 'East of Eden' in London. Eugene Wallace,
lead vocals, was a great singer eventually moved
to London and went on to record 2 albums in the early/mid '70s with some very famous UK
studio names, and also made an appearance in the movie 'That'll Be The Day' with David Essex."
Johnny, very soon, the next band was to be Jeremiah Henry!
Left to right: Jack Costello (Bass & Vocals), Guido DiVito
(Drums & Vocals) and Johnny Fean (Guitars &
Johnny, "The photograph is from about 1970.
Both Jack and Guido had been original members of Limerick band 'Granny's
Jeremiah Henry was formed in sometime early 1969 and the band were
until 1971. All of us in the band sang lead and harmony
our set was a mixture country, rock, soul and blues. We played material
from 'The Band
and Dylan', The Lovin' Spoonful', ' Buffalo Springfield' as well as some country
and Chicago blues."
The text from the cutting reads:
played one of their first Dublin gigs last weekend, but their
p.a. gear let them down. The had to search the town for a
replacement and in the end had the use a guitar amp. With a few
good breaks they could happen."
Johnny, "Jeremiah Henry rented in a mansion
out in Parteen, County
Limerick where we lived and also used to rehearse. During my time with
the band I lived between the Parteen mansion and my place on
O'Connell Avenue in Limerick city. We had other musicians stay
at the big Parteen mansion, for instances
Phil Lynott, Eric Bell and Brian Downey used to stay in the house in the
real early 'Lizzy' days when they'd come to play gigs in Limerick and Cork.
Skid Row used to also drop in and stay.
We all traveled to gigs mostly in a big old car with a trailer,
a closed metal type, for
the gear. This took us to the many gigs we played all around
Although we recorded a couple of demos
we didn't record any material that made it to release. The
demos recorded were two of my own songs set down on a 4 track machine in
Limerick. One song was called 'Leavin' Today' and the other
was 'Got it
in my head'! Sadly, the whereabouts of
those recordings is unknown!
After we disbanded in '71 Guido and Jack pursued different musical
careers. What I did was move back home to Shannon for a time, and
I started playing at
a lot of traditional sessions around Co. Clare. I was playing Tenor Banjo by
then and picking
up a lot tunes at the sessions.
In early September 1972 I got home from
being out and was told that a visitor had come looking for me at
our home in Shannon. Charles O'Connor had called to invite me to go
to Dublin to audition for Horslips. The funny thing is, for some
reason, I wasn't initially keen to take up
the invitation. Had it not been for my younger brother Donal, who got on to
me and nagged me a bit to try it out....well...who knows?"