Photo Credit: Fiona Younger
It would be an understatement to say that Alan Doyle is proud of where he comes from in Newfoundland. Although living now in St. John's, Alan was brought up in the community of Petty Harbour, a town having fewer than 1,500 people. Petty Harbour is less than a half hour south of downtown St. John's, and the cliffs surrounding it have kept it from becoming a suburb. This town is split down the middle with Catholics on one side and Protestants on the other, although everyone gets along just fine. It has its Catholic church and its Protestant church, its Catholic school and its Protestant school, etc. Unfortunately, although once it was once a thriving community, it has been hit hard by the fishing crisis.
Alan spent his childhood summers selling cod tongues, which have become a rarity because there's not too much codfish around, and swimming in water holes. The winters were spent playing wharf hockey with friends. The victors often celebrated by tossing the losers in the water.
As is fairly common among East-coast families, music was always a part of growing up. There was music everywhere and it became a part of Alan's life. His mother was the local piano teacher and he took a few lessons from her, thereby instilling in him the basics of music theory. He took these lessons, but the guitar was the instrument he loved.
Alan left home to attend Memorial University, majoring in English and Religion, and graduated in 1992. Before forming Great Big Sea, Alan was part of duo with friend John Brenton called "Staggerin' Home". This twosome performed spoofs of songs including Metallica and AC-DC. By Séan, it was deemed to be "very strange", and "disturbing". Very often, Alan and John would be playing across the street from "Rankin Street", the band that Séan, Bob and Darrell had at that time. This is how Alan came to meet the others, and within a year, Great Big Sea was formed. When the band became more time-consuming, he had to leave his job as interpretor for the Newfoundland Museum.
As Alan was a hockey player (goalie) throughout his life (he was an all-star player in his teens), he will always be a huge hockey fan, his favourite team being the Habs. Everywhere he goes there always manages to be some connection to hockey..