It was a bad week for the aficionados who love their music in Waterford, and who like to come together preferably in those places where fermenting liquor loosens the tongue and brightens the spirits. Or was it ? Knowing Tony Weldon as I did, perhaps last Sunday (June 28th) was a good day because ‘Binner’ had been ill for some time and now he is at peace at long last. Tony was a legend in the music business for many decades, going right back to the days when he played with the late Frankie King and The Woodchoppers. Bernie Flanagan and many other wonderful local musicians could no doubt tell many a better tale than me about Tony, but nevertheless I will always fondly remember my fun filled days and nights with him in the radio and music business.
Back in the early 80s, Tony was invited aboard the good ship WLRfm when we were pirates in the true sense of the word. His ‘Teatime Special’ at 6pm show became the most listened to programme on the station, along with the the Dermot Graham Show which went out at 10am every weekday. Tony’s Sunday Show was the real flagship music and request show, and week in, week out thousands of listeners would sit back and enjoy his selection of Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and other classic singers records. His signature tune ‘Morning has Broken’ was the start of every Sunday for people all over the entire county of Waterford.
During the mid 80s Tony asked me if I would form a trio to play the Maryland Lounge, Parnell Street for a short few weeks. When keyboard player, Danny Devine agreed to play with me and Tony, a truly wonderful and in ways strange trio was born. The ‘short few weeks’ became months and then years. Seven nights a week and at weekends we would make a quick dash to play the Majestic Hotel in Tramore. Later on when Tony was in need of a drummer for a new five piece band he had put together to play venues such as the Bridge Hotel and the Tower Hotel he came back and invited me to sit behind the skins, an invitation I jumped at. In between those periods Tony was the top man at the Sunday Jazz sessions in Bill Martin’s Bar. O yes, ‘Memories Are Made Of This’, ‘Under The Bridges Of Paris’, ‘Spanish Eyes’, ‘New York, New York’, ‘Gentle On My Mind’ and of course ‘My Way’ are just some of the songs that Tony would sing during our days together. However the number that I will always associate Tony with is the Dean Martin 1954 classic ‘That’s Amore’ He loved to sing that song and also play it on WLRfm. Tony remained as popular as ever on the local radio station right through the pirate and legal days and in truth he has never really been replaced.
In recent times Tony enjoyed his game of cards in Alfie Hale’s Bar on Barrack Street before he took ill. One of his last public appearances was in 2006 when he took to the stage at The Forum to perform at the special night to raise funds for Brian and Joanne O’Regan who sadly lost a child in a tragic house fire. Tony was in fact the first person to put his name forward to perform on that extraordinary night. That was the kind of man, Tony Weldon was.
He was laid to rest in St Otteran’s Cemetery on Tuesday, June 30th following Requiem Mass at The Cathedral. He would have wanted tears of laughter and not tears of sorrow as he departed to a much bigger stage up in heaven.
He was once asked if he would like a Smirnoff. ‘‘Of course I would” replied Tony. ‘‘Do you want something in it ?” ‘Of course I do” answered Tony ‘‘Another Smirnoff”.
Gone but never forgotten. He certainly brightened our spirits for many, many years. May God’s soil rest easily on his gentle soul. Farewell Tony.