the Irish Rovers
- Duos & Groups A-H
- Duos & Groups I-Z
- Singers A-H
- Singers I-Z
- Duos and Groups
- Singers A-L
- Singers M-Z
- …and the rest
…a short history
1957: Brothers Will and George Millar leave Ballymena, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, (with their family) and emigrate to Canada.
1963: George Millar meets Jimmy Ferguson, from Belfast, Northern Ireland, in Toronto, Canada and form a folk duo.
They are eventually joined by George's cousin Joe Millar, and at one point "with another Ballymena man called Victor Marcus and a banjo player from Canada, called Doug Henderson, they played in the local folk clubs." 
1964: In July, George and Jimmy visit Will in Calgary, and stay on. They are eventually joined by Joe and with Will form the Irish Rovers.
In November, Will, George, Jimmy & Joe leave Calgary and head to California.
1965: The Irish Rovers, audition for The Purple Onion in San Francisco, and make their debut at the club on New Year's Eve.
1966: The Irish Rovers are signed to a one record deal with Decca and cut their first album, The First of the Rovers.
1967: The Irish Rovers' second album, The Unicorn, is released.
1968: The title track becomes a hit single, climbing to #7 in the American charts.
Prior to the success of the Unicorn, Joe Millar leaves band, and accordion player Will McDowell is recruited to replace him. 
The line up of Will, George, Jimmy and Will release the group's 3rd LP, All Hung Up. This is the only Irish Rovers' album without Joe Millar, until 2005.
1969: Joe Millar returns to band, now playing bass.  The Irish Rovers (Will, George & Joe , Jimmy & Wicil) release their next LP, Tales to Warm Your Mind. This line-up remains unchanged until 1995.
1971: The group relocates back to Canada to star "on CBC Vancouver TV's 'The Irish Rovers,' one of the most popular variety shows of its day." The series runs for 6 seasons, winning an ACTRA Award for Best Variety Performance. 
1972: Between 1972-1980 the group releases 5 albums
1980: The group scores a number 3 Canadian hit "Wasn't That a Party," written by Tom Paxton. Between 1980-1985 they are known as "the Rovers", releasing several albums.
1981: The group star in their second Canadian TV series: The Rovers Comedy House — "A 7-part CBC series of comedy, shenanigans and boisterous Irish music…" 
Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy make two appearances on January 15, and February 12, 1981.
1984: The (Irish) Rovers star in their last Canadian musical-variety TV series — Party With The Rovers. 
1989: The band celebrate their 25th Anniversary with the release of a double LP (CD). The group is again known as The Irish Rovers, from here on …
1994: The Irish Rovers celebrate their 30th Anniversary with the release of a live CD, and accompanying video. This is their last album with Will Millar.
1995: Will Millar leaves the band, tired of their heavy touring schedule. Unfortunately, his departure cause a great of deal of strife between himself and his former band mates, in particular with his brother George, and a lawsuit follows, concerning ownership of song rights, royalties and the name "The Irish Rovers".
John Reynolds & Wallace Hood join the band as full-time members.
1997 : In October, founding member Jimmy Ferguson passes away while on tour, at the age of 57. The surviving Rovers and Will briefly mended fences at Jimmy's funeral.
2004: The Irish Rovers celebrate their 40th Anniversary with the release of a double CD.
2005: In July, percussionist Paul Lawton is tragically killed in a freak accident.
Joe Millar retires, and his son Ian Millar joins the group. In addition, Wallace Hood leaves group.
Sources & Notes
1 Will Millar's 1975 book, Children on the Unicorn. This book covers Will's childhood in Ballymena through the early 70's. However, much of the information and incidents in the book are undated.
2 The period while Joe Millar was not in the band is hard to date. Will discusses this period in his aforementioned book, Children on the Unicorn, but (again) plays fast and loose with dates throughout. Based on dates listed at the IMDb of the Irish Rovers' appearances on the American TV series, The Virginian, Joe was only out of the group for about 4 months. (see below)
4 The Canadian TV Archive — This website lists the Irish Rovers many appearances on Canadian Television.
The Irish Rovers on "The Virginian"
Vision of Blindness - Original Air Date: October 9, 1968
with Will, George & Joe Millar, & Jimmy Ferguson
Singing — "The Shores of Americay"
Crime Wave in Buffalo Springs - Original Air Date: January 29, 1969
with Will, George & Joe Millar, Jimmy Ferguson & Wicil McDowell
Singing — "Mrs. Durkin" & "Marie's (Trumbull's) Wedding"