Big Tom McBride, Irish country music star, dies at 81

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Big Tom McBride was inducted into the Irish Country Music Awards Hall of Fame in June 2016

The renowned Irish country music singer, Big Tom McBride, has died at the age of 81.

Mr McBride’s career spanned more than five decades on the Irish country music scene.

In a statement, his family said Mr McBride had “passed away peacefully”.

They said he would “be sadly missed by all who knew him”. The County Monaghan man was inducted into the Irish Country Music Awards Hall of Fame in June 2016.

Donegal singer, Daniel O’Donnell, said the world of country music “is a richer place” because of the music Mr McBride left behind.

“I am only getting my head around it,” he told Irish broadcaster RTÉ .

“It is just so sad. I am sure his family are devastated at his passing.

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Daniel O’Donnell paid tribute to the man he called The King

“I grew up all through Big Tom’s career. We all referred to him as The King.

“There was something special about his music, Big Tom was the one everyone saw as the main man.”

The Irish prime minister (taoiseach) also paid tribute saying he was very saddened to hear of the death.

Leo Varadkar said: “Big Tom was certainly a giant in Irish country music for over 50 years.

“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.”

Mr McBride was known for his performances as the lead singer of Irish showband Big Tom And The Mainliners, who were formed in the 1960s.

They had a number of Irish chart hits including Old Log Cabin For Sale, Broken Marriage Vows and The Sunset Years Of Life.

Singer and BBC broadcaster Hugo Duncan described Mr McBride as a “lovely gentleman”.

“He was somebody you just wanted to be in his company,” he told BBC Radio Ulster.