In 1975, while on the way home from a gig, the apolitical rock group, The Miami Showband, fell into the crosshairs of a Protestant unionist paramilitary group that planted explosives on their bus when it was stopped at a fake checkpoint.
Newsweek Article: Opening in Northern Ireland in 1975, during the peak of The Troubles—when Irish nationalist and British loyalist paramilitaries vied for control of Northern Ireland’s future—The Miami Showband Massacre opens in the music halls, where young people could find respite from the escalating violence.
Miami Showband were the most popular of the era’s many dancehall bands, drawing in sold-out crowds across a divided Ireland. They were called the Irish Beatles and many considered singer Fran O’Toole to be a once-in-a-generation talent. But their promising future was cut short in July 1975, when Miami Showband was stopped by paramilitary forces while driving home to Dublin after a gig in Banbridge, Northern Ireland. A time bomb went off in Miami Showband’s minibus, killing two of the men manning the checkpoint. The other men at the checkpoint, wearing British Army uniforms, opened fire, killing three members of the band and injuring two.
Eventually, three current or
former members of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR)—a part of the British army tasked with securing Northern Ireland—were tried for the murders. All of the killers were also members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), a pro-British paramilitary terrorist group responsible for car bombings and hundreds of deaths. While the British Army portrayed the UDR as neutral peacekeepers, not siding with either the UVF or Irish nationalist Irish Republican Army (IRA), the Miami Showband massacre provided a dramatic example of just how much official British military bodies had been infiltrated by partisan paramilitaries. But the conspiracy ran even deeper than that, this latest episode of ReMastered reveals.
The Miami Showband Massacre follows surviving band members, including bassist Stephen Travers and trumpet player Brian McCoy, as they seek justice from some of the highest powers in the United Kingdom. The surviving members of Miami Showband couldn’t help but notice the many, many inconsistencies from that night, beginning with a man with a British accent, suggesting there were more than local Irish recruits manning the roadblock.
“When you’re stopped at a roadblock in northern ireland, it is not normal to hear a British accent,” band leader Des Lee points out in The Miami Showband Massacre.
“I’m determined to find out who murdered Miami Showband, even if it leads up to the very top of the British government,” Travers says in the Netflix documentary. He will later recall hearing his band’s lead singer begging for his life on that dark roadside.
While the massacre itself is shocking enough, The Miami Showband Massacre uncovers a far deeper conspiracy, beginning with one of the UVF’s deadliest killers, Robin Jackson, known as “The Jackal.” Responsible for between 50-135 murders, connected to assassinations and car bombings, The Miami Showband Massacre makes a convincing argument that Jackson was, simultaneously, a British intelligence asset, possibly working for their CIA equivalent, MI6.