03 August 2007

RIP: Tommy Makem

ZUI this post from the Los Angeles Times:
Tommy Makem, a musician, singer and master storyteller who teamed up with the Clancy Brothers to popularize traditional Irish folk music around the world, has died. He was 74.

Makem died of lung cancer Wednesday in Dover, N.H., where he lived for many years, his son Conor told the Associated Press.

Playing banjo, tin whistle and singing in a deep baritone, Makem was known as the Godfather of Irish music for bringing Irish culture to audiences. His original songs, such as "Four Green Fields" and "Gentle Annie," have become Irish folk music standards.

"He was a great entertainer," his lifelong collaborator Liam Clancy told Ireland's RTE state radio. "He had a knack of making an audience laugh and cry, holding them in the palm of his hand."

And this from the Boston Globe:
Like all great troubadours, Tommy Makem isn't dead. His body is lifeless, having finally succumbed [Wednesday, 1 August] to the lung cancer that ate away at him the last two years.

But Tommy Makem was an Irish soul singer, and souls don't die. His music is preserved, on the old vinyl LPs he made with his pals, the Clancy Brothers, more recently on CDs, more intimately in memory, in the hard drive of any brain that heard his basso profundo voice.

To hear Tommy Makem sing "Four Green Fields" was to hear Enrico Caruso sing "Vesti la giubba," or James Brown sing "I Feel Good." He was for Irish traditional music a great ambassador, and a consummate performer.

Tommy Makem's official website can be found here.

Left to right: Tommy Makem, Paddy Clancy, Tom Clancy and Liam Clancy (1963 photo)

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