The Dubliners and Seven Drunken Nights
Many singers and bands have recorded Seven Drunken Nights but the song is most closely associated with The Dubliners.
The band had a UK top ten hit with Seven Drunken Nights, reaching number 5 in 1967.
The recording was banned by some radio stations, including the Irish broadcaster RTE, because of its raunchy content, but was championed by the pirate station Radio Caroline.
They played the song repeatedly and the exposure helped the song become a hit.
Seven Drunken Nights on Top of The Pops
The success of the Seven Drunken Nights meant The Dubliners were invited to perform live on the BBC weekly chart show Top of the Pops.
Singer Ronnie Drew famously said: “There are seven verses to this song but we’re only allowed to sing five of them.
With their bushy beards and unfashionable clothes, The Dubliners were unlikely pop stars. As Drew recalled more than 20 years later, “We were a quare looking crew to be going on Top of the Pops.”
The exposure brought the band out of the folk circuit and put them before a mainstream audience for the first time. The success of Seven Drunken Nights gave them the momentum to have a follow up hit with Black Velvet Band.
Dubliner learnt the song from Joe Heaney
Ronnie Drew described how they got the song from the sean nos singer Joseph Heaney, who had been performing it for years.
He played it to them at a drinking session in Donoghue’s pub in Dublin. The band liked the song but only saw it as an album track. They were as surprised as anyone when it became a hit single.
The band performed the song at concerts throughout their careers but they always stopped at the fifth verse and declined to sing the final two, raunchier versions.