Aslan is an Irish rock group from Dublin who are not widely known outside of Ireland (except for the ex-pats), they have become known as one of Ireland’s best kept secret music groups.
The story of Aslan
Aslan is very much a well-loved group who came from the proletarian northside of Dublin after forming in the mid 1980’s. Named after Aslan the lion in C.S Lewis children’s books they had almost instantaneous success when they released their demo single “This Is” in 1986 and playing sell-out gigs all over Dublin. Listeners of Ireland’s popular radio station, RTE 2FM, ensured that it became the longest play-listed track on Irish radio.
The quick success of Aslan
With the whirlwind success of “This Is”, the band began to get various invitations to perform on shows across the UK all of which were enthusiastically received by both audience and critics alike.
Before even having released an album the group were honoured with The Stag/Hot Press ‘ Most Promising New Band ‘ award in 1986 and this subsequently led to Aslan being signed by major record company EMI.
Two years later the band released their debut album “Feel No Shame” and the success was instant as it went straight to number 1 in Ireland’s charts. The success of the band’s first album was fortified with it being declared Gold within a few months of release. An achievement only some artists dream of.
The abrupt end of Aslan
The band, relishing in their new found success and fame, enjoyed life to the full. But unfortunately it was to end abruptly. Just as they had got the go ahead for a second album in the summer of 1988 the group suddenly crashed and the media played on the scandals surrounding the group. It is now known that lead singer Christy Dignam struggled publicly with drug addiction and this ultimately became too much for the band to continue.
For a few years Christy continued to perform as part of the group Dignam and Goff whilst the rest of the band continued as the Precious Stones. There was never any intention for the group to reform and it was only until a charity event back in Dublin brought them back together for what was to be a one off performance.
The continued success of Aslan
So in 1995, Aslan was back once again and they were almost immediately signed up by BMG with the intention of releasing music not only in Ireland but across the water in the UK as well. ‘Crazy World’ was the first single to be released from the record deal with BMG and it was a huge triumph as it reached the top ten in the Irish music charts and remained there for months. The single went on to win the award for ‘Single of the Year’ in 1993’s Hot Press Awards.
Aslan spent the next year touring all over Ireland and recording ‘Goodbye Charlie Moon’ which eventually reached number one and once again became another Gold album under the belt for the band.
Success under the record label was short-lived for the group as in 1995 BMG ungraciously dropped the band and therefore the music was not released into the UK. However much of a shock this was to the group it undeterred them and Aslan fought back by hitting the studio and recording ‘Here Comes Lucy Jones’ which went into the Irish chart at number 14 in 1997 and once again they had the hearts of the public who gave the group recognition for their talent as they nominated them in a total of seven categories in the Hot Press Readers Pol in the same year.
In 1998 the written biography of the group ‘Aslan’s Crazy World’ was released and became a prompt bestseller. This was followed by a best of album entitled Shame about Lucy Moonhead which shot into the charts at number one and eventually turned double platinum. Aslan ended 1999 on a high by selling out the Point Theatre in Dublin; a massive achievement given it is one of the most famous venues in Ireland.
2001 saw the band record the single ‘She’s so beautiful’ with Irish music icon Sinead O’Connor. The single with its almost bohemian- Indie sound went straight to number nine in the Irish charts, and their subsequent single ‘Different Man’ entered in at number seven. Christmas 2001 was when Aslan returned to the Point in Dublin, and once again sold out the 9000 capacity theatre thanks to their legion of loyal fans.
After a brief quiet spell, Aslan released The Platinum Collection, which was an assembly of all their work on one compilation in 2005, as proof of their longstanding and passionate fans it entered the chart at number three and received triple platinum sales as a consequence. Over the next few years the band experienced more chart success with ‘For Some Strange Reason’ and Aslan UNCASE’d.
Due to their previous success down under, the group toured Australia once again in 2010 and mirroring the preceding accomplishments they sold out various venues.
The band doesn’t stop where performing and music is concerned which was only proven with Christy Dignam’s own personal battles. He fought drug addiction for years but in late 2012 he took ill and was rushed to hospital only to be later diagnosed with Amyloidosis, a very rare blood cancer.
A few months later a large collection of musicians gathered for A Night For Christy gig in the Olympia Theatre with Christy in attendance. U2 performed a cover of “This Is” videoed from New York and they other top musicians also performed a song each from Aslan’s collection. The night ended with Christy performing Crazy World.
The band celebrated their 30th avisary with the release of their live album “30” that was recorded in the Olympia Theatre but due to Christy’s health no gigs were played for the past year.
After two years of chemo treatment the fantastic news of Christy’s remission quickly spread but that he also wanted to a play a gig. The Olympia Theatre was booked for the 30th May which sold out in 7 minutes and an extra night added also being sold out. More dates were scheduled for the rest of the year giving with some selling out immediately including the famous Vicar Street venue.
In recent years Aslan’s success has not dwindled and they rely heavily on their large fan base which has proven to be one of the strongest in Ireland with generations of every age following the group. Known as one of the most hard-working bands in Ireland, Aslan has kept its passion and stamina since it released its first single and as the bands motto goes “the Lion is still roaring”.
Video of Aslan performing Crazy World live in Dublin 1999.
Links and sources
- Official website – aslan.ie
- Aslan on Facebook – facebook.com/officialaslan
- Aslan on Twitter – twitter.com/officialaslan
- Photos of Aslan – flickr.com
- Interview with Billy McGuinness – sortedmagazine.com
This article was first published on 05-01-2016 and last modified on 20-12-2015.