1967-1969 — Seven Drunken Nights
The Dubliners signed with the Major Minor label in 1967 and this proved to be the turning point in the career of the Dubliners. On St. Patrick's Day of that year they released the single, "Seven Drunken Nights". Radio Telefis Eireann refused to play the song, due to its "questionable" content, and instigated an unofficial ban on the Dubliners that lasted for years. Fortunately, Radio Carloine had no such misgivings about the song and played it often; the single sold 40,000 copies within two days and went on to sell in excess of 250,000. The song was subsequently picked up by the BBC and went to number 5 on the British charts.
The Dubliners became, very begrudgingly, most unlikely pop stars, appearing regularly on the television show Top of the Pops. Says Ronnie, "If nothing else, it opened us up to a very wide audience." Ronnie did an interview for the BBC, which he feels may have annoyed them a bit. According to Ronnie, "they tended to treat us as fellas who could play and sing, but not a lot upstairs—not too much. Not that it bothered them, being the BBC. I resented this attitude. They said, 'How does it feel to be in the top 20?' I said, 'It's great. We got more gigs and more money.' What he wanted me to say was, 'fantastic—we've reached the top. Oh,' I said, 'it's no reflection on our talent if that's what you mean. It's not a great song. It's a nice little song. A business machine went into operation and the public was told to buy it and they bought it. There'd be none of these things unless business machines went into operation."
Between 1967 and 1969, the Dubliners followed with 5 more albums on Major Minor and a number of singles, including "The Black Velvet Band", which also charted in Britain. As their reputation grew they began to tour outside of Ireland and Britain to tremendous success, particularly in Germany and Scandinavia where they remain very popular. In 1968 the Dubliners went to America and on St. Patrick's Day appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. Ronnie recalls, "I wear a suit and tie quite a lot. I remember in New York they didn't quite know what to do with the likes of me because here was I in a suit and long hair and a beard. I mean people in hotels were looking at us." They also appeared on David Frost, with Bob Hope. Unfortunately, perhaps because as Ronnie suggests, Americans didn't quite know what to make of them, their visits to the US have been too few, indeed.
On May 1, 1969, The Dubliners gave six-month's notice to their current management (Scott Solomon Management and The Dorothy Solomon Agency) and Major Minor that they wished to terminate their agreements with them. Considering their popularity at the time, Major Minor and the respective Solomons were none too pleased by the boys' decision.
These breaks caused widespread speculation that the band was splitting up. However, the Dubliners were far, far from finished. The band embarked on tours of Canada, the US and Britain. In December 1969, they released the album At Home With The Dubliners.