Foster and Allen

Foster and Allen are a musical duo from Ireland consisting of Mick Foster and Tony Allen. In their 40-year career, they have released over 30 albums, many of which entered the UK Albums Chart. Along with "A Bunch of Thyme" (entering the Irish chart in 1979 and becoming their first No. 1 single), "Maggie" became a No. 1 in New Zealand for four weeks, making the two songs their signature tunes. They started in the 1970s as a duo, but in 1982 they added a band to their show. They have achieved album and video sales in excess of 22 million worldwide.

Foster and Allen
Background information
GenresTrad. Irish, folk, MOR, country
Years active1975–present
LabelsCMR, Ritz, Stylus, Telstar, DMG TV
MembersMick Foster
Tony Allen


Foster and Allen began in 1975 when they were playing in country music bands around Ireland.[1] Soon after they formed a small group and went over to the UK to work the Irish music venues on a short tour. At this stage they had the idea of working together as a duo, playing easy listening music with traditional Irish instrumentals.

When their UK tour finished, they decided to let the band return to Ireland whilst they stayed behind to try to break into the public eye. They played several venues in the London area and the reaction was favourable; they decided to remain as a duo, and Foster and Allen was formed. After a time working around the circuit in the UK and Ireland, they released their first single, "The Rambles of Spring".[1] This made an impact on the Irish market and Foster and Allen were soon in demand for cabaret venues all over Ireland.

At the end of 1979, Foster and Allen released the single, "A Bunch of Thyme" in Ireland, and it entered the Irish chart. Despite the romance and charm of the music and lyrics the song is in reality a warning to young women to protect their virginity. The girl in the song ultimately ignores the warnings and becomes infected with syphilis. It became their first number one single, and stayed on the chart for 40 weeks.[2] It was not until 1982 that this single was released in the UK. It was played by all the radio stations in Britain, and peaked at No. 18 in the UK Singles Chart.[3] At the time, Foster and Allen were in the United States on a tour. They were contacted and told to fly back to the UK to appear on BBC Television's Top of the Pops.

Demand for Foster and Allen's services at venues all over Ireland and the UK increased. They released another single, "Old Flames", which peaked at No. 51 in the UK chart. They undertook their first concert tour of the UK in 1983, and this tour was boosted by the release of another single "Maggie". This reached No.27 in the UK Singles Chart and became a No.1 in New Zealand for four weeks.

Foster and Allen have toured Ireland, the UK, the US, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. They have also had their own TV series on RTÉ Television in Ireland.

In the early days, Mick Foster and Tony Allen performed on stage as a duo, but in 1982 (when the concert tours started) they added a band to their show, thus giving a much fuller sound to their program. On the recording front, Foster and Allen have released over 30 albums, many of which entered the UK Albums Chart. As well as the albums, they have released thirteen videos. The video "Souvenirs and Memories" reached No. 3 in the UK video chart around Christmas 1991, the "By Request" video went straight into the No. 1 spot in 1993. Their DVD/video release After All These Years became Top 10 in the UK. To date, Foster and Allen have achieved album and video sales in excess of 22 million worldwide.[4]

Foster and Allen celebrated their 30th Anniversary together in the music industry with the release of their album, Foster and Allen Sing the No. 1's, which was a Top 30 hit in the UK Albums Chart during Christmas 2005. Their "World Concert Tour – 2005/2006" took them to the United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa, Ireland, US and Australia.

In 2011, the Irish High Court ruled they must pay around €3 million each to Revenue.[5]

Tony Allen

Allen was born on 24 February 1952 in Mount Temple, County Westmeath, the youngest of a family of nine children. He was keen on music from an early age, and was encouraged by his parents and teachers. His father, Patrick, was a fiddle player while his mother was a singer. Allen started playing the accordion after one of his brothers brought him an accordion home from England. It was not long before he joined the Mary Landers, (a local band), and subsequently, the Kieran Kelly Band, replacing Brendan Shine.

In 1973, along with his brother Tom(T.R. Dallas), Allen was part of Doc Carroll's Nightrunners Showband. It was another Athlone man, Kevin Sheerin, who recommended Allen for the job in this band. They used to play mostly around the Midlands and a residency in the Irish Club, Parnell Square, Dublin, every Tuesday night.

Allen opened a recording studio in Moate, Roseland Studios, and most major acts in Ireland record their albums there.[6] He is motivated by music;[6] having the studio, he is now directing his interests into the technical side of the business.

Mick Foster

Foster was born in 1947 in County Kildare, in sight of the Curragh. He now lives in Mullingar, and has a small farm where he spends all his time, when not touring, looking after his horses. He has three daughters and one son.

Foster was taught to play the accordion by a Sr Anges Murray, a nun of the Mercy Order in Ballymahon and Frankie Gavigan. Other influences on his playing included Jimmy Shand and Will Starr. He has recorded a tribute to the latter, entitled The Old Button Box, and has claimed that his accordion would probably be the last thing he would be prepared to give up.


UK albums

Year Title UK

1976 The Blacksmith
1980 A Bunch of Thyme
1982 The Foster and Allen Selection
1983 Maggie 72
I Will Love You All My Life 71
1984 The Very Best of Foster and Allen 18
1986 After All These Years 82
Reminiscing 11
1987 Love Songs – The Very Best
of Foster and Allen Volume 2
Reflections 16
1988 Remember You're Mine 16
The Worlds of Foster and Allen 16
1989 The Magic of Foster and Allen 29
Christmas Collection 40
1990 Souvenirs 15
The Christmas Collection 44
1991 Memories 18
1992 Heart Strings 37
1993 By Request 14
1994 Songs We Love to Sing 41
1995 100 Golden Greats 39
1996 Foster and Allen's Ireland  
Something Special – 100 Golden Love Songs 46
1997 Shades of Green 55
Best Friends 36
1998 Greatest Hits 52


One Day at a Time


2003 By Special Request –
The Very Best of Foster and Allen
2004 Sing the Sixties 31
2005 Sing the Number Ones 30
2006 At the Movies 48
2007 Songs of Love and Laughter 50
2008 The Country Collection  
2009 Sing the Million Sellers 34
2010 Magic Moments 40
2012 The Ultimate Collection 38
2017 The Gold Collection 34
2018 Putting On the Style 29


Release date Title Uk


1976 "The Rambles of Spring"    
1979 "A Bunch of Thyme"   1
1982 "A Bunch of Thyme" (re-issue) 18 8
"Old Flames" 51 3
1983 "Maggie" 27 6
"Sweethearts in the Spring"   13
"I Will Love You All My Life" 49 17
1984 "Just for Old Time's Sake" 47 22
"We Will Make Love"   25
1985 "After All These Years" 43 11
1986 "Nobody's Darlin' But Mine"   10
"When I Dream"    
1987 "True Love"
(with Gloria Hunniford)
"When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again"    
"Part of Me"   16
"The Black Sheep"   11
1988 "Golden Years"   16
1989 "I'll Never Stop Wanting You"   22
2003 "The Fields of Athenry"   19
2013 "Galway Girl"/"One Little Christmas Tree"
(featuring Shayne Ward)[9]


  1. Lighthouse Theatre – Foster and Allen
  2. "The Irish Charts: All There Is to Know". Irish Recorded Music Association. Archived from the original on 3 June 2009. Retrieved 21 February 2015.
  3. Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 208–209. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  4. Allmusic – Foster and Allen
  5. "Foster & Allen owe €3m each to Revenue". RTÉ News. Raidió Teilifís Éireann. 23 November 2011. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
  6. ?
  7. Official UK Charts – Foster and Allen Albums
  8. Official UK Charts – Foster and Allen Singles
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