Frank O'Neill

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Frank O’Neill

Frank O’Neill born in Sliema on 28 October, 1951 to Doris née Casha and William O'Neill. Attended St.Elizabeth School Sliema..Stella Maris College, Sec/ Tech School at Naxxar, Art Accademy Pietro Vannuci in Perugia.

First contact with music when joining the SMC Scouts as a Venture. In 1969 received DOE Gold award for using Art and Music for the Community by HRH Prince Charles.

First Band

Formed original band Harlequin's Bluff in 1969 with Joe Camilleri, Andre Grimaud, Patrick Camilleri and Isabelle Mamo Dingli in 1970. He played percussion but found that the guitar was his instrument and as soon as he learned a couple of chords Frank started writing music. Frank think that he must have written over three hundred songs.

When the band's instruments were stolen, the band disentegrated. A year later he met up with Brian Cefai and together they formed the duo Checkmates. They really clicked as both Brian and Frank could harmonise and so no one was really the main vocalist.

They played in many venues and were quite popular as that was the era of Folk music ESP with Simon and Garfunkel, the Seekers, Bob Dylan etc. Unfortunately they went separate ways as Brian joined the Jesus of Nazzareth Choir and pursued studies in Classic Music and eventually formed the Amadeus Choir Before that they had participated in a few festivals inc the first The Malta Folk Song Contest organized by Jove Enterprises in 1973 with the song by himself M’Hemmx Għalfejn Ħafna Kliem.

Duo

Frank O’Neill and Tony Camilleri

This duo begain when Frank O'Neill first met with Tony Camilleri who had won with the 1974 edition with It-Tieġ tan-Neputija. They discovered that both played at the same venue..on different days. So they decided to join forces and instantly clicked.

As a duo Frank and Tony covered many artists inc Beatles, Stones, Dylan etc. In one Folk Festival Frank had three songs pass so he sang one. Dgħajsa Lewn Ħamran. Tony sang X'rat il-Gardjola and Carmelo Borg sang Imħabba f’Kemmuna which later we recorded as a duo.

Tony and Frank became very popular because of TV programes like Kantina Folk which launched The Greenfields and many artistes. At the same time he joined a band called Razzamajazz which mainly played Dixieland style..in fact he played banjo as well as guitar.

Frank was the only Maltese as the rest of this six piece band were British servicemen. They were also very popular and played all the Service Venues, RAF, ARMY NAVY, ships, aircraft and even an Aircraft Carrier. This carried on till 1979 when the services left for good. Frank also did some stints on BFBS Radio during Folk Programes. Thanks to this connection he was given the opportunity to record an album Man of Galilee in their studios with the Stella Maris College Boys Choir and Young People’s Orchestera. Frank had written and composed the songs previously and they told the story of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus in a simple melodic way. The irony was that while they were recording this album, the studios were being dismantled around us..it was 1978 and the album would be released in 1979 the Year of the Child.

In the meantime Tony and Frank had released It-Tieġ tan-Neputija and Rajt Ma' Rajtx and these were an instant hit. This was followed by Imħabba f’Kemmuna and Ma'Nħallikx a song used by Air Malta’s Advert and played on BBC TV on prime time.

In 1975 Tony and Frank joined the Aurora Folk Group from Gozo and participated in the Letterkenny Folk Festival in Ireland and were voted the most popular country.

This was followed by many other International Festivals in Libya, Tunisia etc. In 1977 Frank took a group of youngsters who sang in the same festival.

1978 was a special year as besides our popularity in Malta they were requested in Canada. Having joined the folklore group Viva Malta they were asked to participate in the Edmonton Commonwealth Games which for the first time introduced the Commonwealth Cultural Fest. They met groups from all over the globe inc Australia, Canada, N.Zealand, Africa etc.

The group was very popular as they had a repertoire which made it easy to intermingle with most participants. After the end of the games they went down to Toronto and USA to entertain our fellow Maltese who received us enthusiastically. So popular were that Tony and Frank were Invited back to Toronto the following year 1979.

The following years they took part in other Festivals inc the Malta Song Festival with European Girl which was the year when Malta stopped participating in Eurovision.

In 1982 another Commonwealth Festival was held in Brisbane Australia and Tony and Frank joined Viva Malta once more in this brilliant and unforgettable celebration. They also visited Maltese Communities in Sydney and Melbourne performing and entertaining with our repertoire.We also recorded our first cassette L-Ittra which sold out in Australia in the first days. L-Ittra had placed second in the [[Malta International Festival 1981.

Tony and Frank joined Charles City Gatt, Joe Grech, and others to take part in a Festival in Algeria in 1984. So many events. Tony and Frank sang in many big events and were the last singers to sing in the show near the Monument tal-Ħelsien as the Union Jack went down and the Maltese flag was hoisted up.

In 1986 Tony and Frank decided to part their ways. After 11 interesting and exciting years it was time for a change. Frank pursued a solo career and played in Hotels, Pubs and local venues using more new technology such as Midi realtime. He also expanded my horizons and started developing a show for children which, besides live music included Art, Puppetry and a little. Magic. Frank still involved in these shows ESP for Fund Raising.

Work

From retired from work after 39 years teaching career in 2013 at Stella Marris College where he mainly taught Art as well as Drama and Media Education. He was lucky to be given a lot of space to be creative and pass on this love to my students. He encouraged expressive art and creating.

Using recyclable materials on large surfaces long before ART ATTACK. In fact in 1988 he launched his TV programe Ċaqlembuta on TVM which was a hit with both young and old and ran for the whole schedule. This was when he discovered Ventriloquism and statred to use it in his party entertainment. Frank have been involved in writing songs for children throughout and any school occasion meant a new song including the school Hymn. In 1997 he wrote the music and lyrics for the Della Salle Mass and many religious songs. The Millenium 2000 meant launching a CD Album called Leħen Wieħed with our brilliant choir and colleague Ivan Degabriele. For this he had to write songs like There Is A Rock, Ejjew, Selfish Giant and more.

With this choir they travelled to the UK and Vienna performing in schools and other venues. In 1999 his show Inġenjuż ran for 39 episodes and introduced his now famous Genie which is a standard in his Children’s Parties.

He have performed his show in thousands of homes and venues over a 25 years period.

Signature Art

This is another of Frank talents which he have used extensively both locally and abroad. It's amazing how you can break the ice/ tension with a quick sketch. In under a minute he can transform any signature into a cartoon / artwork. He calculate that have done over 80,000 sketches mostly Dr.Edward Fenech Adami and Dr.George Abela, Prime Minister Dr.Lawrence Gonzi etc.

Actors filming in Malta usually have theirs done. His most famous clients were Steven Spielberg and Russell Crowe.

Frank O’Neill

Present

Presently Frank is working on new artworks for a future exhibition and also collaborating with Joe George Micallef in creating soundtracks for documentaries,first being ‘Maltese Survivor’ shown lately on Net TV. They write songs and record at Joe George studios. In April 2015 Joe George has launched his MICS RADIO a community radio for Rabat Malta and surrounding areas.

Frank is give his contribute with a programe too. His last musical contributions have been for the L-Għanja tal-Poplu 2015, a festival that's close to his heart as Frank have contributed to it as a Presenter, Singer, Author, Composer and Judge.

He was given a special award for his contribution to Local Music some years back. His Song Għanja Mediterranja was used as the Signature tune for many years.

Frank placed twice in second place with Ngħix il-Poezija, with Christabelle Curmi Kif Xrobtuli l-Menti. And Third place with Ħloma sung by Laura Zahra.

See also

Category:Frank O'Neill Photos