Tributes pour in for 'The King' of Irish country music
Tributes have poured in following the passing of much-loved country legend Big Tom McBride, with fellow singer Daniel O'Donnell describing McBride as "The King" of Irish country music.
The Four Country Roads star's family confirmed that he had passed away in a statement on Tuesday morning.
Tributes have since flooded in from fans and friends who said they were "so sorry" to hear of his passing.
Speaking on Today with Sean O'Rourke on RTÃ Radio 1, Irish country singer, Susan McCann, said it was "a sad day for the country music business".
"I started off in 1976 and it was Big Tom really that contributed to my success because my first No. 1 single was called Big Tom is Still the King.
"So, all Big Tom fans bought the single and it went to No.1," she said.
"Itâs a sad day. He was just such a lovel y man and always had a nice word for you. He seemed to capture the heart of everybody he ever spoke to. He was just a gentleman. We are all extremely sad today," McCann added.
Fr Brian D'Arcy said his friend of 50 years had "invented the term Country and Irish music".
"He was a lovely, gentle man," he told O'Rourke.
"He was the one that everybody looked up to. He was the one that probably the elitists sort of looked down their noses at, and Big Tom outlasted them all."
"At his last gig he was able to bring a thousand people into his show," Fr D'Arcy continued. "Who still adored the ground he walked on. Who still loved him as a friend and as a singer. Who still appreciated what he had done for them. Who still made their hearts want to dance every time he opened his mouth and sang. Tom was one of them, but he was their king as well."
Saxophonist Paddy Cole, who had been friends with Tom McBride since childhood and inducted him into the Irish Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016, said the late singer was "a man of the people".
"He was an ordinary, big fella and he had a great sense of humour," Cole told SeÃ¡n O'Rourke.
"He changed the whole scene in the country scene in Ireland."
Daniel O'Donnell told The Ryan Tubridy Show on RTÃ Radio 1, how Big Tom "reached out to people in Ireland and those people who had emigrated from Ireland."
Singer Philomena Begley said she was shocked to hear of Tom McBride's passing, describing him as someone who would "light up a room".
Irish Country singer, Declan Nerney, said today was "a sad day for the music industry".
"Big Tom was the gentle giant of cou ntry music and an icon who had a huge effect on the people of Ireland."
In a statement Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he "was very saddened to hear of the death of Big Tom this morning.
"Big Tom was certainly a giant in Irish country music for over 50 years.
"With his band the Mainliners, he filled dance halls the length and breadth of the country. His songs were a reflection of Irish life and an important connection for the Irish diaspora.
"Not many people are known by their first name, but that was Big Tom. It shows his popularity and legendary status as the king of Irish country music.
"I want to extend my condolences to his family and his huge army of fans."
Pop country singer, Lisa McHugh, said she was "shocked and truly saddened" to hear of Big Tom's passing.
Fianna FÃ¡il TD for Roscommon-Galway Eugene Murphy said: "It's with gre at sadness I learn of the death of Tom McBride, affectionately known as Big Tom. [I] Was introduced to him by Joe Finnegan of Shannonside Radio 20 years ago. I was immediately struck by his friendly personality. His many unknown acts of kindness to people is [sic] not forgotten."
Fianna FÃ¡il leader MicheÃ¡l Martin said he was "very sad" upon hearing the news and said the late singer "charmed and entertained so many over the years".
Journalist and Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times, Michael O'Regan, said: "Big Tom McBride was more than a popular country singer."
Broadcaster Lynette Fay said she was "so sorry" to hear "Ireland's King of Country" had passed away.
In Pictures: Big Tom Mc Bride 1936 - 2018Source: Google News