Paddy Moloney, the leader of The Chieftains, is the only original band member remaining from the group's inaugural 1962 lineup. Moloney has spent more than 40 years playing with and arranging tunes for The Chieftains, who are not only groundbreaking musicians, but also the Irish music scene's most important ambassadors to rest of the world.
Like most of our featured whistle players, Paddy grew up with strong musical traditions; his grandfather played the flute, and his uncle was a member of the Ballyfin Pipe Band. His mother bought him a plastic tin whistle when he was six; by the age of eight, no less a legendary piper than Leo Rowsome was teaching him to play the uilleanns. The 1950s found Moloney playing duet and trio bookings in the Dublin club scene.
In the early 1960s, when Seán Ó Ríada formed the folk orchestra Ceoltóirí Cualann, Moloney was ready to join up, along with other future Chieftains—Peadar Mercier, Martin Fay, Seán Potts, and Mick Tubridy. Paddy assembled the members of Ceoltóirí Cualann to record a one-shot studio album, called The Chieftains, for the Claddagh label in 1962. The Chieftains began to take off, with Moloney actively promoting the group. From 1968 to 1975, Moloney took a position with Claddagh Records as a producer, where he had a hand in 45 different albums, and helped expand and diversify the Claddagh catalog. In addition to his duties with The Chieftains, Paddy remains highly sought after as a session performer, and he has played with many types of performers across the musical spectrum, including Mick Jagger and Sting.