jacqui o'sullivan

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Jacquie O’Sullivan

One time Shillelagh Sister, one third Bananarama, come in from the cold, Jacquie O’Sullivan – we want you back!

Jacquie O’Sullivan was born in London in August 1960 and began her career appearing in the background of music videos in the early 80’s, which included “Visage” by Visage and “Who’s That Girl?” by The Eurythmics. In 1983 she formed the group, the Shillelagh Sisters, with Lynder Halpin, Patricia “Trisha” O’Flynn and Maria “Mitzi” Ryan. They released two singles, but neither did anything, although “Passion Fruit” (1984) featured a cover of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'” but after barely two years, the band split. Jacqui and Lynder went on to for the band, Max Attraction and toured, although nothing was ever recorded or released. However, she was about to hit the big time when she was ‘picked’ to replace the departing Siobhan Fahey in the girl group Bananarama in early 1988.

Jacquie had known both Sara and Keren for some years and seemed like the obvious choice as well as winning approval from Siobhan herself. The newly invigorated Nana’s quickly re-recorded a track from their album, “Wow”, “I Want You Back”, and released it in April. The song became one of their biggest ever hits, reaching No.3 in Australia and No.5 in the UK. Although everything appeared to be in working order, Jacquie would later reveal that she was never entirely happy with the set up as she was never given any say in the direction or setup of the group, merely an ’employee’, required to attend recording sessions and performances. It was Sara and Keren calling the shots, but with the exposure, Jacquie was happy to at last be in the spotlight, if only slightly to the left of it!

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Having already wrote and recorded four studio albums, and after seven years of hits, Bananarama‘s next release would be a best of. The album was preceded by a new recording, part penned by Jacquie herself, “Love, Truth And Honesty”. Released in September 1988, the single reached No.23 in the UK. “The Greatest Hits Collection” would become, and still remains, Bananarama’s best selling record, with over a million copies sold in the UK and a further three million worldwide and would produce a further hit single, a cover of The Supreme’s “Nathan Jones” (UK No.15). The beginning of 1989 saw the re-energised trio cover The Beatles “Help” for that year’s Comic Relief campaign and took their new version, with comedians Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders and a then unknown Kathy Burke as Jacquie, to number three in the UK, their tenth so far as well as a top ten placing across Europe.

Bananarama‘s time with producers Stock Aitken Waterman was coming to an end as the girls were desperate to seek new music with a fresh 90’s approach to it and after a remix of their 1983 smash “Cruel Summer” in June 1989 (UK No.19) and a world tour, they joined forces with Martin Glover aka Youth in 1990 to begin writing and recording for their fifth studio album. Their first effort, “Only Your Love”, was a much harder-edged pop/dance number with a funky beat and so it was surprising that the song only made it as far as No.27 in the UK that Summer, despite plenty of radio time and promotion. Much more successful, however, was the follow up, “Preacher Man”, released in January 1991 which would give the girls their fifteenth UK top twenty hit (17 if you include both versions of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” which they appear on).

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“Preacher Man” was followed by the customary Bananarama cover version, this time it was The Doobie Brothers “Long Train Running” (UK No.30), before the album, “Pop Life”, was released in the Spring of 1991. Although never a big album selling group, “Pop Life” made it to No.42 in the UK and featured Jacquie as co-writer on all of the original content of the album, including the fourth and final single, “Tripping On Your Love”, in the Summer of 1991, although this found no commercial success at home, the song did reach No.14 on the US dance chart, their best performing song there since “I Can’t Help It” at the beginning of 1988. But the cracks, discussed earlier, between Sara, Keren and Jacquie, were now fat becoming irreparable and later that year, Jacquie left Bananarama after three and a half years, most of which was spent answering the question “how does it feel replacing Siobhan?”. Understandable!

Jacquie formed the duo Slippry Feet in 1992, recording an album, “Freak Time Viewing”, before disbanding. In 1993, the Shillelagh Sisters reformed and recorded an album together, titled “Tyrannical Mex”, which they published new tracks along with their cover of “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'”, The album was not a hit, but the girls didn’t mind. They continued to tour and in 2002, released another album of fresh material, “Sham’Rock & Roll”, which included a cover of Lulu’s “Shout”. Jacquie largly left the music business at this point and began a new career as a yoga teacher and a massage therapist, something which she clearly enjoys to this day and looks completely stunning with it! The Shillelagh Sisters reformed briefly in 2019, but if you want to see Jacquie now, you will need to make an appointment with her!

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Take a look at our other Where Are They Now? posts or find out more here.