Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Legendary Irish country music singer Big Tom McBride dies aged 81

Birth name: Tom McBride
Also known as: Big Tom
18 September 1936 (Born: Castleblayney, Monaghan, Ireland) - 17 April 2018 (aged 81)

The “giant in Irish country music” died in the early hours of Tuesday morning
His family confirmed the news hours after he “passed away peacefully” in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our dear father Big Tom McBride (RIP) this morning,” a statement on the singer’s official Facebook page read.
“Dad passed away peacefully in the company of his family. He will be sadly missed by all who new him. “May he rest in peace.”

McBride, whose wife Rose died in January, was hospitalised in Nov 2006 after suffering a heart attack, at the age of 70, which had put doubt into whether he would ever tour again with his band

Tributes quickly flooded in from famous fans and politicians including Taoiseach Leo Varadkar who hailed McBride a “giant in Irish country music”.

Daniel O'Donnell (L) with Big Tom

Singer Daniel O'Donnell branded him a “king” as he paid tribute. “It's just so sad,” he said. “On the other hand, he was probably heartbroken without his wife, Rose. Maybe for him, it's a gift from God.

McBride enjoyed a career spanning five decades which saw him hit the charts with Big Tom And The Mainliners.
The band, formed in the 1960s, were famous for songs including “Broken Marriage Vows” and “The Sunset Years Of Life”.

Band: "Big" Tom McBride (lead vocals, saxophone, rhythm guitar), Seamus McMahon (lead guitar, fiddle, vocals), Henry McMahon (tenor sax, vocals, bandleader, percussion), John Beattie (keyboards, piano), Cyril McKevitt ( trombone, vocals), Ronnie Duffy (drums, vocals) and Ginger Morgan (Bass guitar, vocals)

Originally named as "The Mighty Mainliners Showband", the band achieved fame after appearing on RTÉ Television's Showband Show broadcast on 21 May 1966 performing “Gentle Mother” which subsequently reached No.7 in the pop charts of Ireland. In the early 1970s, the band changed their name to "The Mainliners", however soon afterwards they adopted the name "Big Tom and the Mainliners" in line with other Irish Showbands where a single man was used to take centre stage.

Although the band did not gain prominence until the mid to late 1960's, in an article in Spotlight in May, 1970, Tom McBride told reporter Donal Corvin that he formed the band with Henry McMahon when Tom returned to Ireland in 1963 after working in England for two years. Henry had also been in England.

Born in Oram, near Castleblaney, Tom McBride was one of four siblings. Reared on a farm, he left school in his teens to help out at home. In the September 30, 1976 issue of Starlight magazine, Tom told his story in his own words.
"I suppose it must have been five years that I remained working on the local farm because I was about 19 when a pal and myself headed for Scotland. Actually, it was the friend who took the notion and I fell in with the idea." Tom and his pal stayed in the Scottish Highlands for about four months before returning home to Castleblaney. He was only back for two months when he started traveling again, this time to England. "I got fixed up with Walls, the ice cream factory and there I remained for a year and a half working the night shift all the time." Tom continued, "it was around that time that I started fiddling around with a guitar, playing it at parties, things like that." Soon after, Tom headed for the Channel Islands where he got work picking tomatoes, a job that lasted another year and a half. "I liked it there," said Tom. "They had this country group whom I grew to like. They called themselves the Mainliners." Read More + Photos at

In 1980, Big Tom was presented with a Gold Award for sales of more than one million records.
Big Tom suffered from a fear of flying. In 1980, apparently, he undertook a sea voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to record his BLUE WINGS album in Nashville.
He later reunited with The Mainliners in 1989 and continued to perform live, appearing on the first Late Late Show Country Music Special, among other shows.
In 2000, Big Tom underwent a nodule operation on his throat.
In November 2006, Big Tom suffered a sudden heart attack at the age of 70, which had put doubt into whether he would ever tour again with his band. on 24
On 8 July 2005, a plaque was erected by the local community in Big Tom's home village of Castleblayney, County Monaghan.
In early 2016, Big Tom and the original Mainliners went on tour to mark 50 years since the release of their most enduring hit "Gentle Mother". From May until September, Big Tom and the Mainliners continued their summer tour to celebrate 50 years of "Gentle Mother"

Top 10 hits on the Irish Singles Chart:

"Gentle Mother": #7 (Jan 30, 1967) Big Tom and The Mainliners
"Old Log Cabin for Sale": #4 (Oct 21, 1967) Big Tom and The Mainliners
"The Sunset Years of Life": #3 (July 23, 1970) Big Tom and The Mainliners
"Broken Marriage Vows": #1 (Feb 19, 1972) Big Tom and The Mainliners
"I Love You Still": #1 (Jan 4, 1973) Big Tom and The Mainliners
"Old Love Letters": #1 (May 16, 1974) Big Tom and The Mainliners
"Four Country Roads": #5 (May 16, 1981) Big Tom
"Streets of Dublin City": #7 (Nov 15, 1981) Big Tom
"If I Needed You": #10 (March 18, 1984) Big Tom
"Jealous Heart": #9 (April 7, 1984) Big Tom

All About The Mainliners (1963-1982 and 2004-2018) 

He was inducted into the Irish Country Music Awards Hall of Fame in June 2016.
He leaves behind four children. Tom's wife of more than 50 years Rose died in February.

Pictured with late wife Rose

The singer Big Tom McBride, one of the icons of Irish country music, who died today aged 81, will be laid to rest in his home county of Monaghan Friday (April 20, 2018).
His funeral mass will be celebrated at 11am in Saint Patrick's Church, Oram, and he will be buried in the adjoining cemetery following the service.

There will be an opportunity for fans and friends to pay their respects between 12pm and 8pm (Thurs) in Oram Community Centre in Castleblayney (Facebook), where his remains will be lying in repose.
Mourners have been asked to respect that Big Tom's house is strictly private.
Shannonside-Northern Sound radio (96.3 FM | | will broadcast the funeral mass at 11am on Friday.

‘He was a lifeline for a dispossessed people’: Big Tom remembered: Country star had a huge following despite being lampooned by critics as uncool Irish We referred to him as the king' - tributes pour in as country music singer Big Tom dies aged 81

FANS' FINAL FAREWELL Country music legend Big Tom McBride to lie in public repose for fans to pay tribute as family confirm funeral plans The

Big Tom McBride, Irish country music star, dies at 81 - BBC News

Hugo Duncan and Daniel O’Donnell pay tribute to Big Tom first broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster 17 April 2018


Lisa McHugh: Shocked and truly saddened to hear of the passing of Big Tom this morning. Ireland’s King of Country Music for so many years and his legacy will live on for many years to come. My sincere condolences go out to all of his family and friends at this terrible time. RIP

Mike Denver: So sad this morning hearing of the passing of my friend Big Tom. The gentle giant. Country music has lost a legend. RIP with your love Rose

Derek Ryan: This photo has always been special to me, but even more so this morning as I woke to the sad news of Big Tom's passing. His songs and unique sound will live forever in Irish Country Music. Rest In Peace. #KingOfCountry #Legend #BigTom  Twitter Photo
Pictured with Clionna Hagan (L)

Cliona Hagan: Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of the King of Irish Country Music Big Tom! Your music or your unmistakable voice will never be forgotten!#BigTom #countryking #neverforgotten

Dominic Kirwan: I’ve just heard the sad news Ireland’s true #KingOfCountry music #BigTom (Tom McBride) has passed away, and so soon after his beautiful wife’s death, Rose. A humble man! I send my sincere condolences and prayers to Tom’s family at this time. Thank you for the music .. R.I.P. Tom

Lisa Stanley: So sad to hear of the death of the legend Big Tom McBride. I met Tom many times and he was such a gentleman both on and off stage. There will never be another like him. My sincere condolences to Tom’s family and friends. Rest In Peace Tom 🌹#legend #bigtom #theking

Rachael Anderson (Downtown Radio) : Very sad to hear this morning of the passing of the Irish Country legend Big Tom McBride. A very sad day for Irish Country music x #BigTom

Lynette Fay (BBC Radio Ulster) I am so sorry to hear of the passing of Big Tom McBride, Ireland’s King of Country- a National Treasure and Irish country music legend. Suaimhneas síoraí ar a anam uasal.

The Irish World: The Irish World are very sad to learn of the passing of the undisputed king of Irish country music, Big Tom. We send our condolences to his family and friends. Irish Times (Article)

The Late Late Show: We were very sad to hear this morning of the passing of Ireland’s King of Country, Big Tom. Our condolences to his family, friends and fans. He was a huge part of our Country Specials and we will be paying special tribute to him on this Friday’s show.

Keep It Country TV: We are saddened today to hear news of the passing of Irish Country Music Legend Big Tom. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends & many fans at this time. Pictured below is Big Tom being interviewed for @KeepItCountryTV Rest in peace Big Tom. #BigTom ☘️
Big Tom (R) talks with Phil Mack (L) in a Keep It Country TV Interview

Hot Country TV: rest in peace big tom, the king of country , you will be sadly missed, thoughts and prayers are with your family,friends and fans Twitter Photo

Jonathan O'Brien: Big Tom joins the majority. Good story: Garech Browne once took Mick Jagger to a Big Tom gig in Castleblayney in the early 1980s. Jagger went backstage afterwards and introduced himself. Big Tom refused to believe it was him and ignored him. Jagger flounced off in a huff.

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