LONG-running Irish folk music duo Foster & Allen have more in common than you'd even imagine.
Mick Foster and Tony Allen were both working as hardware shop assistants in different stores in the 1970s before music became their main gig.
Allen said he had started working in a hardware shop aged 16.
"Mick Foster also worked in a hardware shop at the time," he said.
"Both of us ended up playing together in a group but it was 1976 before both of us got to give up work totally to go out on tour."
The youngest of nine siblings, Allen said he had always loved music.
His father Patrick was a fiddle player while his mother was a "terrific singer".
"Everybody in the house was interested in music," Allen said.
"It was very much an Irish thing; most houses played music."
Allen started playing the accordion after one of his brothers brought him one home from England.
Soon after he joined the Mary Landers band and later the Kieran Kelly Band, replacing Brendan Shine.
They used to play mostly around the Midlands and a residency in the Irish Club, Parnell Square, Dublin every Tuesday night.
The Irish folk music duo, Foster & Allen, began in 1975, touring cabaret venues in Ireland and Britain for three years.
Their big breakthrough came in 1978 when they released the single A Bunch of Thyme in Ireland, which stayed in the Irish charts for 53 weeks.
But their success was only known in Ireland until 1982 when A Bunch of Thyme was released in England.
It was played by all the radio stations in Britain and was soon in the pop charts, becoming the duo's first top-selling No. 1 single.
This increased their popularity and demand was immense for Foster & Allen throughout Ireland and the UK.
They released another single Old Flames, which made its way into the British charts along with their mega-hit single Maggie.
These three hit songs became signature tunes at the sell-out concerts throughout the world.
Having toured New Zealand for the first time last year, Foster & Allen will return to Australia for their 20th tour here this month until June 2.
They have achieved album and video sales in excess of 20 million worldwide.
They have released 30 charting albums over a 40-year career.