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|Years active||1974–2005, 2009, 2012-present|
|Years active||1974–2005, 2009, 2012-present|
The Nolans were an Anglo-Irish girl group consisting of a group of sisters. The group, best known for their song "I'm in the Mood for Dancing", gained prominence as guest performers on numerous television shows in the United Kingdom. The majority of their charted singles and albums occurred in the early 1980s but they continued to be active until 2005 and were particularly successful in Japan. The sisters have pursued varying solo careers in acting, music and television presenting. In 2009, The Nolans reformed for a one-off concert tour in Ireland and in the UK, spawning an album and DVD.
Tommy (1925–1998) and Maureen Nolan (1926–2007), who had both worked as singers in Ireland, moved their family from Dublin to Blackpool in 1962, and launched a family singing group, The Singing Nolans, in 1963. The original lineup comprised the parents, sons Tommy and Brian, and daughters Anne (born 12 November 1950), Denise (born 9 April 1952), Maureen (born 14 June 1954), Linda (born 23 February 1959) and Bernadette ('Bernie', born 17 October 1960).
The family performed even as the five girls all went to school at Blackpool's St Catherine's Catholic Secondary School. The Nolans also attended The Cardinal Wiseman School in Greenford, West London. As well as performing frequently on the northern club circuit, The Singing Nolans recorded an album, The Singing Nolans, a single "Blackpool" – which was a song about their local football club, Blackpool F.C., and is still used on match days at Bloomfield Road – and the EP "Silent Night" for the Nevis label in 1972.
In 1974 the five daughters began performing as The Nolan Sisters. After guesting on Cliff Richard's TV show, they began regular appearances on variety and comedy shows including Summertime Special, The Morecambe & Wise Show and The Two Ronnies. In 1975 they supported Frank Sinatra on a UK tour and Rolf Harris in South Africa.
They released one uncharted single on EMI in 1974 and several more on Target Records between 1975 and 1977, several of which were composed by Roger Greenaway. A 1977 eponymous album on the Hanover Grand label was sold only at the London Club Room in Drury Lane, and is ranked by price guides as the most collectible UK release by the group.
Their chart breakthrough came in 1978 with the covers album 20 Giant Hits on Target, which reached Number 3 in the UK. That year they also supported Engelbert Humperdinck on a US tour, and Denise left the group to pursue a solo career.
In 1979, the group participated in the UK Eurovision selection contest A Song For Europe. Their track "Harry My Honolulu Lover" was considered the favourite before the contest, but ultimately placed fourth, with Black Lace going on to represent the UK. A lightning strike by BBC technicians minutes before the broadcast led to the cancellation of the show. Instead, the regional juries had to make their decisions based on audio tapes of the songs. The group had been pre-booked to promote the song on many BBC shows, leading to speculation that it had been taken for granted they would win the competition. One booking was representing the BBC at the 25th Anniversary celebrations for the Eurovision network, which was staged in Montreaux, Switzerland, in April 1979.
After signing with CBS subsidiary Epic Records in 1979, the group enjoyed their greatest period of commercial success. Although their debut release - the failed UK Eurovision entry "Harry, My Honolulu Lover" - did not chart, their second Epic single "Spirit, Body and Soul" reached number 34. At the end of 1979, the group released the disco-flavoured single "I'm In the Mood for Dancing", which became their best-known tune and biggest hit. It reached number 3 in the UK, number 2 in their native Ireland and number 1 in Japan, a rare event for a Western act; the single eventually sold more than 600,000 copies in Japan. The song, like the majority of The Nolans' hit singles, was written by Ben Findon, Mike Myers and Robert Puzey.
The self-titled album Nolan Sisters, which featured the first two charting Epic singles, eventually reached Nº15 in the UK. Although not an official member of the group, the youngest member of the family, Coleen (born 12 March 1965) (Coleen had released one solo single on Target in 1978, a song about Prince Andrew's status as a teen idol) appeared on the covers of the album and "I'm In The Mood For Dancing," the latter of which she appeared in the music video accompanying it. In early 1980, the group changed its name from The Nolan Sisters to The Nolans. Following her marriage, Anne temporarily left the group and Coleen was made a new official member.
The group's 1980 album Making Waves peaked at number 11 but had the longest UK album chart run of their career (33 weeks) Singles from the album included "Don't Make Waves" (UK number 12, Eire number 5); "Who's Gonna Rock You" (co-written by Billy Ocean, UK number 12 in 1980, Eire number 14), and "Gotta Pull Myself Together" (UK number 9, Eire Nº8). The latter became the group's first Australian hit, reaching number 3 in 1981; its parent album reached AU Nº10 The last UK single release from Making Waves was "Attention To Me" in 1981 (UK number 9, Eire number 5, Auystralia number 94).
"Sexy Music", also featured on Making Waves, won the grand prize at the 1981 Tokyo Music Festival, and was subsequently released as a single in Japan. This became the group's third number 1 on the Japanese Import chart - following "I'm in the Mood for Dancing" and "Gotta Pull Myself Together". During 1981, Coleen and Linda contributed vocals to the Young and Moody Band, which scored a UK number 63 hit with "Don't Do That".
Another 1981 single "Chemistry" (UK number 15, IE Nº11, AU Nº51) was drawn from the album Portrait. This would become the group's second Top 10 UK album, reaching number 7 in 1982 (Australia number 54), and was also the source of their final UK Top 20 single "Don't Love Me Too Hard" (UK numner 14, Eire number Nº17). Anne rejoined the group in late 1982, making it a five-piece line up.
The 1982 compilation album Altogether reached UK number 52, but the accompanying single, "Dragonfly", failed to chart. In 1983, the group was rocked by a minor scandal when their new single, "Dressed to Kill" was removed from the chart due to allegations of chart rigging. The group had released the single with a limited edition poster, exclusive to shops which registered chart sales. The story was reported on in newspapers at the time, which also added that their fan club had instructed members on which shops these were. The single had entered highly in the Chart but was subsequently banned from inclusion. Later in the year, Linda left the group to pursue a solo career. At the time, she was nicknamed the "Naughty Nolan" due to risque publicity photos. The resulting four-woman line up of Bernie, Anne, Maureen and Coleen was stable until 1994.
In 1986, the group performed on a stadium tour of Russia. 1986 also saw the release of the LP "Tenderly", which was an album of standards. They appeared in the second episode of the 1987 comedy series Filthy Rich & Catflap, playing themselves in a blackmail plot and performing "I'm In The Mood For Dancing". A 1989 re-recording of the same song reached #99, and another version reached #51 in 1995.
The Nolans remained popular in Japan, signing a six-album deal there in 1987. They recorded several new albums purely for the Japanese market, usually featuring English language covers of Japanese pop hits. Releases on Teichiku Records during this period included Playback Part 2, entirely comprising covers of songs originally performed by Japanese singer Momoe Yamaguchi; Tidal Wave; Rock And Rolling Idol; Hottest Place On Earth; and Lost Lonely Beaches.
In 1991 they became the first Irish group to be awarded the 33rd Japan Record Awards Kikaku Sho (Prize for Planning) for best foreign recording artist. Compilations of their Japanese material, often featuring remixes and some featuring other artists as well, were regularly released throughout the 1990s and 2000s in Japan, while several budget-priced compilations of their Epic-era material (sometimes re-recorded) appeared in the UK.
Coleen, who had married performer Shane Richie in 1990, quit the group in 1994 to have a baby In 1995, longstanding lead singer Bernie left to pursue an acting career; Anne and Maureen continued as a two-piece version of The Nolans. A re-recorded version of "I'm In The Mood For Dancing", released on the Living Beat label, reached #51 in the UK in 1995.
From 2000, the line-up consisted of Maureen and Anne, together with Anne's daughter Amy and unrelated singer Julia Duckworth, and concentrated on live appearances, often at venues such as Butlins holiday camps and bingo halls. The group disbanded in 2005. Before then, Maureen Nolan had been in the group for 31 years without leaving.
The Nolans announced in June 2009 that they were reforming for a UK and Ireland tour. Four members - Coleen, Bernie, Linda and Maureen - undertook the tour, in October and November 2009. The two other sisters, Anne and Denise, were not involved.
Coleen said she had instigated the reformation after speaking to her manager. She explained: "We've been approached before over the last four or five years but it has never felt like the right time and the right people being involved, and this time it was like 'let's just do it once more". The sisters performed their hits and several classic diva-type songs.
The reunion however sparked a split in the family as Anne has appeared in the press stating that she has been excluded from the tour despite being a long-serving member of the group. She has also issued a statement on her official website, which includes the comment: "they are not my sisters anymore".
Denise also issued a statement in support of Anne, claiming that the real reason for the reunion was due to some of the sisters being in financial difficulty. The other four sisters have said that the decision was made by Universal, who are sponsoring the tour, due to this being the line-up that enjoyed the most success back in the early 1980s. The Nolans released a new album, I'm in the Mood Again, on 28 September 2009, which reached No.22 in the UK album charts. A live DVD was released on 9 November 2009.
2011 saw the release of an autobiography Survivors: Our Story.
In September 2012, a farewell tour was announced, to take place from the 15th February to the 14th March 2013. The line-up will be the same as for the 2009 tour.
Most of the sisters have continued to work in show business, pursuing careers in acting, musical theatre, pantomime and touring. As an actress, Bernie had prominent TV roles in Brookside and The Bill, and has toured in several stage shows, including the adaptation of the movie Flashdance in 2008. Coleen has mostly worked as a television presenter, hosting This Morning briefly in 2001 and appearing regularly as a panellist on Loose Women since 2000.
Four of the sisters — Bernie, Denise, Linda, and Maureen — have played the role of Mrs Johnstone in the musical Blood Brothers. Both Maureen and Bernie have performed in productions of the comedy Mum's The Word, and they toured together in the show in 2008.
Linda performed in the role of Maggie May at Blackpool's Central Pier for 10 years, clocking up more than 1,000 performances and toured with Prisoner Cell Block H - The Musical. Denise released one solo single on Pye in 1979 and two on Mercury in 1982. She has frequently performed a Judy Garland tribute show. Anne stopped performing and took up an office job, but has since resumed her singing career. In 2012 she released her debut solo album "Just One Voice".
The Nolans reunited as a five-piece (Anne, Bernie, Coleen, Linda and Maureen) for one-off performanes of "I'm in the Mood for Dancing" first for BBC One's All Time Greatest Party Songs, hosted by Tess Daly, which aired on 17th December 2005 and again on 9 August 2007 on Loose Women, but dismissed any immediate prospect of a full-scale reunion, a stance Anne echoed in 2008.
The girls' father Tommy died of liver cancer in 1998. Anne was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000, as was Linda in 2006. As part of her treatment, Linda had a breast removed. Bernie was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2010.
The Nolans' mother Maureen Nolan died in Blackpool aged 81 on 30 December 2007 after suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Anne Nolan released her autobiography Anne's Song on 27 March 2008. In the book, co-written with Richard Barber, Anne said she had been repeatedly sexually abused by her father, from the age of 11 until she was 15 or 16. In April 2009, Coleen said that her father was violent to her, Anne and their mother.
|EP||"Silent Night" (EP)||Nevis||-|
|Album||"The Singing Nolans"||Nevis||-|
|1974||"But I Do"||-||-|
|1975||"Make a Little Sunshine Shine"||-||-|
|"Thanks for Calling"||-||NR||NR||NR|
|"When You Are a King"||-||NR||NR||NR|
|1978||"Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue"||-||NR||NR||NR|
|1979||"Harry, My Honolulu Lover"||-||NR||-||-||Epic|
|"Spirit, Body and Soul"||34||NR||-||-|
|"I'm In the Mood for Dancing"||3||1|
|1980||"Don't Make Waves"||12||NR||5||-|
|"Gotta Pull Myself Together"||9||9||8||3|
|"Who's Gonna Rock You"||12||21|
|1981||"Attention to Me"||9||NR||5||94||250,000+|
|1982||"Don't Love Me Too Hard"||14||61|
|1983||"Dressed to Kill"||-||NR||-||-|
|1985||"Goodbye Nothin' to Say"||-||-||-||-||Towerbell|
|1986||"Let's Spend the Night Together"||-||-||-||-||Spartan|
|1989||"I'm In the Mood for Dancin' 89 (re-recording)"||99||-||-||-||BCM|
|1991||"Rock and Rolling Idol"||NR||-||NR||NR||Teichiku|
|"Take Me All"||NR||-||NR||NR|
|1995||"I'm In the Mood for Dancing (re-recording)"||51||-||-||-||Living Beat|
NR = not released in that country. Dash indicates did not chart in that country.
|UK sales||Japan sales|
|1978||20 Giant Hits||3||38|
|The Nolan Sisters (10-inch edition w/ 6 tracks)||NR||12||56,190|
|1981||Sexy Music (compilation LP)||NR||2||541,930|
|All About The Nolans (2-LP box set)||NR||30||58,290|
|Don't Love Me Too Hard|
(earlier release of Portrait for Japanese market)
|1983||Harmony (compilation LP)||-||-||-||Everest/Premier|
|1984||Girls Just Wanna Have Fun||39||-||60,000+||Towerbell|
|1991||Playback Part 2||NR||77||12,000||Teichiku|
|Rock and Rolling Idol||NR||88||15,000|
|1992||Graduation (The Nolans & Friends)||NR||-|
|Hottest Place On Earth||NR||-|
|Lost Lonely Beaches||NR||-|
|New Music Pops In Japan (The Nolans & Friends)||NR||-|
|1997||New Best Hits and More (includes 5 new tracks)||NR||-|
|2006||The Singles Collection (includes bonus DVD)||NR||88|
|2009||In the Mood Again||22||-||Universal|
NR = not released in that country. Dash indicates did not chart in that country.