The Dropkick Murphys

Dropkick Murphys
Dropkick Murphys. Born and Bred Records

Formed/The Basement Days

1996 - Quincy, Massachusetts

The Dropkick Murphys started playing together in the basement of a friend's barbershop. Discovering that they were creating a sound that was innovative and fun, they decided to make a go at becoming a band.

Through years of constant touring, attachment to issues and charities and a now-legendary annual St. Patrick's Day celebration in Boston, the band has attracted commercial success and a very devoted following.

The band plays Celtic punk, employing traditional Irish music mixed with hardcore and street punk, making a heavier sound than their progenitors, the Pogues.

Early Releases and Lineup Changes

After releasing a few EPs, the Murphys were signed to Hellcat Records and they released their first full-length album Do Or Die in 1997. Shortly thereafter, frontman Mike McColgan left the band to pursue his lifelong dream of being a Boston firefighter. He would later reemerge on the musical scene fronting the Street Dogs. He was replaced by Al Barr (from the Bruisers, a New England street punk band).

With Barr at the helm, they released The Gang's All Here in 1999 and Sing Loud, Sing Proud! in 2001. During this time original guitarist Rick Barton was replaced by James Lynch (formerly of the Ducky Boys) as well.

Although today bassist Ken Casey is the only original member of the band, these transitions were all gradual, and the replacements were all good fits so that the band as it exists today is pretty true to the ideals and sound of the original lineup.

The Dropkick Murphys and Martin Scorsese

The band has found their biggest commercial success so for with their 2005 song, "I'm Shipping Up To Boston", which was featured on Martin Scorsese's The Departed, which won the Academy Award for best picture in 2006.

In the wake of the film's popularity, the song reached #36 on the most-downloaded songs on iTunes and has appeared on a variety of other TV shows and at sporting events.

The Pipers

An essential aspect of the Murphys comes from the addition of bagpipes. The band's first piper, Robbie "Spicy McHaggis" Mederios, left the band to get married and was replaced by Scruffy Wallace, who still carries on the pipes for the band.

The Dropkick Murphys and their Home Teams

The Dropkick Murphys, have, over the years, been aligned with many causes. Perhaps first and foremost are their support of their local sports teams. They have performed at Boston Bruins and Red Sox games and recorded the instrumental "Nut Rocker" for the Bruins, and their version of the Boston Red Sox anthem, "Tessie", was the official song of the Boston Red Sox 2004 playoff season, where the team won the World Series.

The Dropkick Murphys and Andrew Farrar

The band's 1995 album, The Warrior's Code, included "The Last Letter Home," a song that featured excerpts from letters between Sgt. Andrew Farrar, a soldier who was killed in Iraq, and his family.

Farrar had been a Murphys supporter and had asked that, should he be killed, a Dropkick Murphys song be played at his funeral. The band decided to attend his funeral, where they played "Fields of Athenry." When they released the single for "The Last Letter Home," which also included Athenry, they dedicated it to Farrar, and all proceeds went to the Farrar family.


Over the year's, the Dropkick Murphys have been involved in some collaborations with legendary musicians. These include Shane MacGowan of the the Pogues ("Good Rats"), Colin McFaull of Cock Sparrer ("Fortunes of War"), and Ronnie Drew of the Dubliners and Spider Stacy of the Pogues ("(F)lannigan's Ball).

Current Lineup

Al Barr – lead vocals
Ken Casey – bass guitar, lead vocals
Matt Kelly – drums, bodhran, vocals
James Lynch – guitar, vocals
Scruffy Wallace – bagpipes, tin whistle
Tim Brennan – guitar, accordion, vocals
Jeff DaRosa – acoustic guitar, banjo, bouzouki, keyboard, mandolin, whistle, vocals.

Studio Albums

Do or Die - 1998 
The Gang's All Here - 1999
Sing Loud, Sing Proud! - 2001
Blackout - 2003 
The Warrior's Code - 2005 
The Meanest of Times - 2007 
Going Out In Style - 2011

Essential Album

Do or Die

While the band produces consistently great albums, their debut album with Mike McColgan on vocals was their best. The album opens with their take on the traditional "Cadence to Arms," and the blast of bagpipes and guitars that take the album to an energetic height that it rarely comes down from. In addition to traditional songs like "Finnegan's Wake" and the band's interpretation of a Boston classic with "Skinhead on the MTA," the album is full of fist-pumping circle-pit anthems and drinking songs. Do or Die's greatest moment is probably the pub anthem "Boys on the Docks (Murphys' Pub Version)," a tribute to John Kelly, Ken Casey's grandfather, and a Boston union organizer.