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The Country Cousins

The Country Cousins were a popular band who played a number of dates at the Pavilion in 1966 and 1967. They were: Robert Stewart (lead singer / rhythm), Jim Rowan (harmonies / bass), Tom Balmain (singer / lead guitar), Alex Doyle (Hawaiian guitar) and Jimmy "Toe" O'Neil (drums). When last heard of Jimmy was still playing with the George Penman Jazz Band in the Glasgow area. The band came from the Glasgow and East Kilbride area and had a good following throughout Scotland playing on the circuit. At the Pavilion they supported Freddie and the Dreamers, David Jacobs, Whistling Jack Smith and Hedgehoppers Anonymous. Freddie and the Dreamers, who got paid a fee of £1000, brought their own guitars but used the Country Cousins' equipment. The Country Cousins sometimes did a Friday and a Saturday night. When this happened they had the use of rooms at the top of the Pavilion. After the dance they were locked in and not allowed out since the building was alarmed directly to the Fire Brigade in Inverness. It was said that a member of a band appearing at the Pavilion broke the curfew one night and, when trying to climb in an upper window, slid down the slates and landed on the roof of the band's van parked below.



                                                            Top Left:  Robert Stewart ( Lead singer & rhythm guitar)
                                                            Top Right: Tom Balmain ( Lead Guitar & singer )
                                                            Middle" Jimmy "Toe" O'Neil ( Drummer)
                                                            Bottom Left: Alex Doyle (Hawaian Guitar)
                                                            Bottom Right: Jim Rowan ( Vocals & Bass Guitar )

This photo of the group is courtesy of Tom Balmain who says that the reason Jimmy O'Neil was called  " Toe " was because when the band was preparing for a gig one night and getting changed into their outfits the others noticed that his big toe was sticking out of a hole in his sock. From then on he was called "Toe" by the others. Tom continues to return to Strathpeffer from time to time to visit friends in the village.