The Sultans of Ping F.C. formed in Cork in early 1988. For the next 2 years they played live locally and gained a large devoted following. The original lineup was Niall O'Flaherty - vocals, Pat O'Connell - guitar, Paul Fennelly - bass, and Ger Lyons - drums. Some of the classic Sultans songs such as Where's Me Jumper and Turnip Fish were written in this period.
In April 1990 the band recorded their first demo featuring three songs namely Stupid Kid,Riot at the Sheepdog Trials and Eamon Andrews. The tape was sold under the name of Confessions of a Sellafield Sex Guru and it sold over 500 copies.
The band played their first Dublin show that year supporting popular Irish band The Golden Horde. In October 1990 the EuroRock festival was held in Cork so the Sultans were chosen as the local entry and they went down a storm with the home crowd. Afterwards many people agreed that the Sultans had a bright future in front of them. For some strange reason the band become very popular in Sweden due to the EuroRock festival being broadcast there on redio, so things were looking good.In December the band were invited to do a radio session for the Dave Fanning show on RTE (Irish National Radio) and again this went down very well and furthered the bands cause for world domination!
In 1991 Ger Lyons and Paul Fennell left the band and in March of that year Morty McCarthy took up residence on the drum kit and John Mcauliffe took up bass playing duties. By this stage the Sultans were making quite a name for themselves around Ireland and this resulted in them being asked to headline the final night of the Cork Rocks Weekend - which is an annual event showcasing the best in unsigned Irish bands held on the June Bank Holiday weekend. Martin Heath of Rhythm King Records was so impressed by the bands performance that he immediately oftered them a deal. Paddy agreed on the spot when he saw that Martin had a personal organiser!! The deal was signed in August 1991 and the band went through another line up change when John McAuliffe left to become a psychologist. He was replaced on bass by Alan McFeely.
The band played their first gig in the UK in London in November 1991 and they received a great response from an appreciative crowd. The debut single Where's My Jumper was released at the end of January 1992 and the band set off around the UK in a highly successful debut tour before resuming to Ireland to do some dates.
In March 1992 John Peel invited the band to do a session for his show on BBC 1 who duly obliged. The follow up single Stupid Kid was released in April and reached No. 1 in the Indie Charts, No. 67 in the national charts as well as No. 5 in the Irish Charts. The band by now had begun to gather a large and loyal following in the UK and a second successful tour followed. The summer saw the Sultans play at such festivals as Fleadh (Finsbury Park), Feile Festival (Ireland) and Reading Festival as well as doing an Irish tour and recording their debut LP - so there wasnt much time for getting a suntan!
The bands third single was released at the end of September entitled Veronica which reached No.2 in the lndie charts and No. 66 in national charts. The Sultans then set off to Europe to do a ten date support tour with Carter USM, then more good news for the band when Epic Records signed them up for an undisclosed transfer fee. December saw the band begin a tour in Lexiip (Ireland) and finish in Tokyo (Japan)! And the fairytale story was completed when their 4th single and their first on Epic You talk too much crashed into the British national charts at no. 32. The debut LP Casual Sex in the Cineplex was released in Feburary and it crashed into the charts at No. 26.
Meanwhile the Sultans were completing a highly successful tour of the U.K. culminating in a sellout concert at the Astoria in London. The band then retured home to Cork for a triumphant gig in the City Hall before settling down to begin a bit of work called the writing of that difficult second LP.!!
In May 1993 the Sultans were back on the road in Holland with those lovable Lunachicks for 6 concerts which saw them begin to make a name for themselves in a flat country (killing the theory that the Sultans only do well in countries that have got lots of hills and mountains!). After that it was back to Japan for a 5 date tour which was suberb and it saw the Sultans become one of the few westen bands in recent years to play Hiroshima and after that saw them do two sold out nights in Tokyo.
The band had a well deserved break and they went off on holidays before resuming writing of the second LP. At the end of June a quick trip around the U.K. was made doing dates, here and there.
In July they entered Marcus Studios in London to begin recording alongside such hallowed artists as 'Take That' and 'Gabrielle'(Oh how we screamed). Steve Lovell was again the main man in charge of production duties while Tim Hunt and Simon Vinestock ably mixed the Sultans tunes. Little breaks during the recording were taken in order to continue the quest for world domination. The Feile Festival in Ireland was taken by the scruft of the neck and given a bloody good shaking before all the A. O. R. artists peddled their wares on the Sunday.
Two weeks later the Sultans invaded Sweden and played in Hulsfred Festival where they filled the 3,000 capacity arena with many more left outside and Stockholm was taken the following day in the capitals lrish festival. in between these forays the band continued apace with their recording.
A proposed Reading Festival appearance unfortunately never came to fruition so the Sultans finished recording the new LP (by now titled Teenage Drug) and dropped the F.C. off the end of their name. The single Teenage Punks was released at the start of September and it reached no. 48 in the pop charts. The band then did some warm up dates and supported those lovable chappies Carter USM on their jaunt around the UK in October. Immediately afterwards Michiko the sixth single was released and it just ended up outside the top 40 at no. 43. After that it was back to the land of the Rising Sun and a tour of teenage schools to spread terror and mayhem.
However Niall developed a serious eye injury and he had to be hospitalised in Tokyo and the band had to cut short their tour. Thankfully Niall recovered fully and a month later the Sultans were again ready to rock so they did a Christmas tour in Ireland before taking a well deserved break for a few weeks. In late January 1994 they began their sixth tour of the UK. and this 22 date tour took them the length and breadth of the nation and it finished with a sell out show at the Forum - the bands biggest to date. The single Wake up and scratch me was a taster for the forthcoming LP Teenage Drug and it charted at 48. The album was released and again it entered inside the top 50 keeping up the bands fine record of chart entries. A tour of Europe followed encompassing Holland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany and this was very successful. Virtually straight afterwards the band returned to Japan to play six shows which again went very well.
The summer of 1994 were spent alternating between the rehearsal and live concerts all over the U.K. and the band returned to the studio in late August to record 5 new songs for a future release. In late September the band made their first trip to the U.S.A and had a hugely successful and enjoyable time even if Niall has a warrant out for his arrest in Canada for being a bit too rude to say the least!
In 1995 they toured again with a new guitarest and had a concert broadcast on British ITV on a program called The Beat. The start of 1996 saw the Sultans (now without the Ping) support The Ramones for their farewell tour, followed by the release of the single Mescaline and their own British tour. Mescaline got to 21 in the UK Indie Charts. In June they toured again, including a Paris date with the Sex Pistols and released the third album Good Year For Trouble.
This page mainly thanks to Lisa Hall.
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