One of the biggest showband icons from the 1960s to the present day left us last week. Big Tom McBride passed away aged 81 years just a few months after the death of his wife, Rose.
Credited with coining the phrase ‘Country and Irish’ Tom and his band, The Mainliners, jam-packed halls all over the country for decades and when they visited Britain there were almost as many thousands left outside as those inside. He had many big hits such as ‘Gentle Mother’ and ‘Four Country Roads’.
President Higgins and the Taoiseach were among the many dignitaries that paid tribute to his talent and his success, an indication of his countrywide popularity.
Curiously, Tom and The Mainliners were never huge in Waterford City and Cork City where the preferred taste was pop and rock. Mind you, they weren’t worried because as Tom once famously said: “We haven’t seen a floorboard in years!”
Despite it being a small country, I never met Big Tom but friends who knew him well worshipped the man describing him as extremely decent, self deprecating, funny and totally unaffected by his fame. May he rest in peace.