Davy Spillane was born in Dublin in 1959, were he completed his entire education in the Irish language, and while at school learnt the tin whistle and uilleann pipes. Although there is no tradition of playing Irish music in his family, Davy was constantly exposed to music and as a piper he was both influenced and inspired by masters of uilleann piping Seamus Ennis, Leo Rowsome and Johnny Doran. Davy also feels that his music was shaped by both the Keenan and Furey families and by his playing with musicians like Liam Weldon, Tommy Peoples and Johnny Keenan.
At the age of eighteen he appeared in a BFT film called 'The Traveller' in which he played a lead role in a story about a travelling band of Gypsies. Shortly afterwards he teamed up with Christy Moore, Donal Lunny and others to form one of Ireland's most influential groups Moving Hearts.
Following the demise of Moving Hearts, Davy was much in demand as a session musician appearing on albums by, Kate Bush, Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, Enya, Steve Winwood and Chris Rea. Such was the unmistakable power of Davy's playing, that even dance sensation 'London Beat' wanted his unique sound on their recordings. Davy signed a multi album deal with Tara and went on to record four albums, 'Atlantic Bridge', 'Out Of The Air', 'Shadow Hunter' and 'Pipedreams'. He is also the featured soloist, together with Andy Irvine, on the album East Wind and a soloist on The Seville Suite composed by Bill Whelan. Both of these albums were produced by Bill Whelan and were influential forerunners to his hugely successful recording of Riverdance which also features Davy Spillane.
During his time with Tara, Davy assembled a core band of some of Ireland's finest musicians including Anthony Drennan on guitar, James Delaney on keyboards, Tony Molloy on bass and Paul Moran on drums and percussion. As well as playing on the recordings they were a formidable touring outfit, receiving massive acclaim from promoters, audiences and critics alike for their performances at concert halls and festivals throughout the UK and Europe.
FESTIVAL OPENS IN IRISH STYLE
Alastair Clark reviews the 1989 Edinburgh International Folk Festival for The Scotsman
"The Shamrock ruled OK on the opening night
of the Edinburgh International Folk Festival which just happened
to be St. Patrick's Night a splendid excuse for the festival director,
Archie Fisher, to put one of his favourite Irish groups, the Davy
Spillane Band, on stage at the Queen's Hall.
In terms of sheer logistics, this seemed a rather dodgy exercise, because the Irishmen had to get all their folk-rock paraphernalia organised immediately after a jazz session by Chick Corea.
They managed it with minutes to spare, and so, for the second time in one evening, the hall was filled to capacity. I hope some of the jazz lovers stayed for Spillane. The ex-Moving Hearts man was in peak form.
Backed by a rocking drums, keyboards and electric and bass guitar, he didn't attempt to play jazz, but there was an affinity, nevertheless,in the bluesy, vocal sounds he coaxed from the uilleann pipes and in his irrepressible urge to use traditional themes as a springboard for thrilling, inventive flights. He Soared, He swooped, he conquered. There was something jazz-like too, about the way Anthony Drennan, on lead guitar, would pick up his closing phrases and toy with them before launching into his own embellishments.
They finished off with a 12 - bar blues that had Spillane bending pipe notes as if they were made of rubber. The ecstatic reception showed clearly that he is still moving many hearts."
In recent years Davy has set up his own studio in the West of Ireland where he has been busy, working on film soundtracks including Peter Kosminsky's 1992 production of 'Wuthering Heights', the Oscar nominated 'Rob Roy' and Neil Jordan's epic film 'Michael Collins', as well as producing, writing and making uilleann pipes.
After a number of years as a Sony recording artist Davy has recently released a new album with fiddle player Kevin Glackin 'Forgotten Days' on his own label.