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David McWilliams

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David McWilliams (Belfast4 July 1945 – Ballycastle8 January 2002) was a Northern Irish singersongwriter and guitarist. His most famous songs are Days of Pearly Spencer from 1967 and Can I Get There by Candlelight from 1969.


[hide]*1 Career


McWilliams was born in Belfast, but lived from his third in Ballymena. He received technical training and went to work at Shorts Missile Systems in Belfast, a factory that made missiles for the British army.

In the meantime, his hobbies were football, playing guitar and writing songs. He was an enthusiastic amateur footballer. In addition to his work he put a dance music band is on, The Coral Show band.

A demo version of a few songs he had written and Sung, came into the hands of Phil Solomon, the former manager of The Bachelors and Them. Solomon encouraged McWilliams to say goodbye to his job and a musical career. He produced in 1966 McWilliams ' first single, God and My Country/Blue Eyes. Although the single flopped, Solomon and McWilliams went by. Early 1967 came McWilliams ' first lp, which fairly sold.McWilliams ' second single, Days of Pearly Spencer (also known as The Days of Pearly Spencer) and the simultaneously released second lp were accompanied by an intensive advertising campaign in the British popbladen and a series of commercials on Radio Caroline (where Solomon sat on the Executive Board). ' The single that will blow your mind, the album that will change the course of music ' (' the single that will expand your mind, the lp that the music a different course let go '), the ads promised. The intensive promotion via a pirate radio did have cause the State broadcaster BBC the number is not wanted to run.

Days of Pearly Spencer is about a homeless that McWilliams in Ballymena had met. It has a very characteristic refrain, that tinny sounds, like the telephone or by a megaphone is sung. The song took out the British hit parade not (the lp was a small hit), but was a success in other European countries such as France and the Netherlands, where the eighth place. [1]

The song has been covered numerous times. In 1968, an Italian version of Caterina Caselli under the name Il volto della vitaDon Mercedes came In 1978 with a written by Peter Koelewijn song in Dutch under the title Telephone, albeit to the tune of Days of Pearly Spencer but with a different text. In 1992 Marc Almond pulled out with its version of the British hit parade; the song came to the fourth place. The French group The Viet Nam Veterans brought in 1988 under the title an album The Days of Pearly Spencer.

The two following singles remained unnoticed, but Can I Get There by Candlelight? in 1969[2world famous. The song was a hit in GermanyFrance and Italy. In the Netherlands the song took eighteenth place. [3]however, the song was also very popular in Netherlands. Jan van Veen chose it as the theme song for his radio show Candlelight. In 1995 David McWilliams took the number again, now together with the Dutch singerConnie breukhoven (Vanessa). Lennaert Nijgh made a Dutch translation, put a candle in your window, which in 1976 in the rendition of Rob de Nijs to the thirteenth place brought.

Because of its popularity in Italy took McWilliams two singles in Italian on. are English singles were never a success in Britain. Only his first three LPs sold well. Though he was a much sought after artist for performances, both in England and abroad. One of his tours he did together with The Dubliners.

McWilliams decided in 1978 to do. He settled in Ballycastle (Northern Ireland). He remained available for tours, but brought back the frequency. In 1984, he performed at a benefit concert for the English miners, who then held a lengthy strike.

In 2002 he died of a heart attack at his home in Ballycastle. David McWilliams was married twice and had eight children.


General note: the number Days of Pearly Spencer is on different plates called The Days of Pearly Spencer .

UK singles[Edit]Edit

  • 1966: God and My Country/Blue eyes
  • 1967: Days of Pearly Spencer/Harlem Lady
  • 1968: This Side of Heaven/Mr. Satisfied
  • 1969: The Stranger/Follow Me
  • 1969: Can I Get There by Candlelight/Redundancy Blues
  • 1969: Oh Mama Are You My Friend/I Love Susie in the Summer
  • 1971: Maggie's Coming Home/Margie
  • 1973: Gold/Go on Back to Momma
  • 1973: Love Like a Lady/Down by The Dockyard
  • 1974: you've Only Been a Stranger/Ships in the Night
  • 1977: By the Lights or Alex/Toby
  • 1977: Love Walked in (When You Walked out Today)/Don't Need Your Blues
  • 1978: Days of Pearly Spencer/By the Lights or Hicham
  • 1978: Don't Do It for Love/Marko the Majician
  • 1979: Circles/Laugh at the Clown
  • 1981: Black Velvet/Everytime
  • 1982: Wounded/We Can Fly
  • 1987: Working for the Government/Listen to the Heart
  • 1994: Dream Street Rose (two versions)

A selection from the singles released in other countries[Edit]Edit

  • 1968: Can I Get There by Candlelight/Marlena (Netherlands; released in Belgium in 1969)
  • 1968: I fiori nel vento/Correrai, correrai (Italian translations of Poverty Street and Mr. Satisfied; Italy)
  • 1968: This Side of Heaven/Days of Pearly Spencer (Netherlands)
  • 1969: Un sasso nel cuore/Lo straniero (Italian translations of Intangible and The Stranger; Italy)
  • 1969: Three O'Clock Flamingo Street/what's the Matter with Me (Belgium)
  • 1975: Days of Pearly Spencer/Poverty Street (Netherlands)
  • 1979: Circles/Dusty Bluebells (Netherlands)
  • 1979: Dusty Bluebells/Slip Slidin' Away (Netherlands)
  • 1979: Can I Get There by Candlelight/Days of Pearly Spencer (Netherlands)
  • 1995: (Can I Get There by) Candlelight/Softly Come Moonlight (duet with Vanessa; Netherlands)[4]

EPS and maxi singles[Edit]Edit

  • 1977: By the Lights or Alex/Love Walked in (When You Walked out Today)/Don't Drink the Water/Lay It on the Line (Benelux)
  • 1992: Days of Pearly Spencer/Harlem Lady/How Can I Be Free/The Stranger (Netherlands)


  • 1967: David McWilliams Singing Songs by David McWilliams (No. 38 in The UK Albums Chart)
  • 1967: David McWilliams, Volume 2 (No. 23 in The UK Albums Chart)
  • 1968: David McWilliams, Volume 3 (No. 39 in The UK Albums Chart)
  • 1972: Lord Offaly
  • 1973: The Beggar and the Priest
  • 1974: Livin's Just a State Of Mind
  • 1977: David McWilliams
  • 1978: Don't Do It for Love
  • 1979: When I Was a Dancer (not in Britain, though in some other countries, including Netherlands)
  • 1981: Wounded
  • 1987: Working for the Government


  • 1992: The Best of The EMI Years
  • 1995: Bucket Full of Dreams
  • 2001: The Days of David McWilliams
  • 2002: The Days of Pearly Spencer
  • 2002: Days at Dawn
  • 2003: Reflections or David McWilliams
  • 2003: Using Me
  • 2004: Days of Pearly Spencer


  1. Up Dutch hits of 1967 (archived)
  2. Up In some countries, the song was released in 1968.
  3. Up Dutch hits of 1969 (archived)
  4. Up David McWilliams sings only on the front; the back is a duet by Vanessa with Michael Robinson

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