Brothers Phil, Peter, & Paul Caffrey have been singing together for most of their lives. Whether at family parties or in the front garden to impress their neighbours in the Holy Cross area of Wallsend, they needed no excuse to sing.
Their professional singing career began when they secured a recording contract with DJM records, the home of Elton John. Their band, ‘Arbre’, was hailed as Britain’s answer to the Eagles, but after making two critically well received albums and touring with Fairport Convention and Jim Capaldi – amongst others – they went their separate ways.
The brothers then recorded for Phonogram records with noted producer Gus Dudgeon (David Bowie, Chris Rea, Lindisfarne, Elkie Brooks) but commercial success still eluded the Caffreys.
Phil Caffrey continued to write songs and it wasn’t long before he formed a new band to perform his material. Whilst ‘Caffrey’ gained a good local following for their melodic rock – headlining at Newcastle’s Mayfair Ballroom – it was Phil’s songwriting that gained the attention of major music publishers. This resulted in Kiki Dee recording a song he had co-written with another respected local musician – George Lamb.
After the demise of Caffrey, Phil kept his hand in by providing backing vocals for such diverse talents as heavy rock band Saxon and local hero Jimmy Nail, whilst continuing to write.
In the early nineties he formed ‘The Lion’s Share’ with his two brothers but again widespread acclaim eluded them.
And that could have been the end of the story, but…
In 1999 the brothers decided to form one more band together. Booking into Newcastle’s Cluny Studios with the cream of local musicians, they began to record and simultaneously return to playing live gigs.
Buoyed by the critical and public acclaim afforded to their live shows (standing room only being the order of the day) they released their debut (‘The Caffrey Brothers’) nationally in 2000, following growing demand.
Now performing regularly, they supported Lindisfarne at Bents Park, South Shields to an audience of 14,000. Meanwhile, the band’s profile continued to rise across the UK, playing festivals and venues beyond their native North East.
The band played two sell-out gigs at Newcastle’s Live Theatre in 2002 to promote their second CD, ‘Face on My T-Shirt’, beginning a tradition of sell-out shows at the venue that continues to this day.
The present & the future
The departure of youngest brother Paul from the band in 2015 marked the end of an era. As Phil said at the time:
“We’ve been making music for over 50 years, and together we have enjoyed the ups and downs of the music business. Pete and I will really miss sharing the stage with Paul and making music with him.”
But with the remaining members – Phil, Peter, Michael Bailey, David Moore and Rachael Bailey – so firmly established and enjoying playing music with each other, the future of the band was never in doubt.
Confidence is very high with the Caffreys at present, as Phil points out:
“We still have that hunger for acceptance. Obviously, years of experience grounds us in reality but, put us on a stage alongside anyone you care to mention – anywhere – and we can capture that audience. This is a living breathing band, and we’re really up for it.”
The Caffreys came to recent prominence when they were finalists in the BBC TV programme “UK’s Best Part Time Band.”