Tributes paid to 'great Dad and great man' Sonny Knowles

Tributes paid to 'great Dad and great man' Sonny Knowles
Sonny Knowles pictured at The Olympia Theatre, Dublin, in 2010. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Once known as 'The Window Cleaner' because of the way he moved his hand, Sonny Knowles has waved goodbye.

The Dublin singer, who has died at the age of 86, rose to fame during Ireland's showband and cabaret era.

When performing Sonny used to wave his hand like a window cleaner – his audience loved it and used to wave back in the same way.

Sonny learned to play the clarinet and saxophone at the Dublin School of Music before embarking on a career spanning six decades in the music industry.

He joined the Johnny Butler Band, Earl Gill's Band, the Pacific Showband and then Dermot O'Brien's showband before deciding to go solo at the peak of the cabaret era.

Sonny died peacefully at his home yesterday surrounded by his family. He is survived by his wife, Sheila, and their children, Aisling, Geraldine and Gary.

Broadcaster, Joe Duffy, said he “idolised” Sonny, describing him as one of nature's gentleman.

Well known musician, Paddy Cole, said Sonny was an excellent musician and a great guy to work with.

“Sonny was a joy to work with; a professional to his fingertips and a great guy,” said Paddy.

Radio and television presenter, Ronan Collins, said he learned a lot from Sonny, not just as a performer and a musician but as a man.

Ronan was one of a number of musicians who paid tribute to Sonny on RTÉ's Liveline today.

Ronan recalled when Sonny headlined two shows in the National Concert in 2006 organised by promoter Pat Egan.

Sonny agreed to do the shows provided Ronan put the band together. “That was the greatest compliment he ever paid me,” Ronan recalled.

"He was very self-deprecating - that he had the type of voice that made everybody else want to cough because of the huskiness he had in it."

Pat Egan said Sonny was a modest man in many ways.

Comedian Sil Fox said Sonny became the King of Cabernet when he left the showband scene.

“It is a very sad day for all of us who worked with him,” he said.

Red Hurley said he had been asked to sing the hymn How Great Thou Art at Sonny's funeral, yet to be finalised by his family.

“It's a privilege for me because I loved him very much,” said Red.

Irish songwriter, broadcaster and journalist, Shay Healy, described Sonny as a very honest performer, an honest singer and an honest man.

“I enjoyed his company a lot,” said Shay.

Sonny's daughter, Geraldine Knowles, said her father was a “great dad and a great man”.

I just looked at him this morning shortly after he passed away and thought how lucky we were to have had him. He was just a lovely, lovely, guy.

Geraldine said her parents, who were “great pals” had been married 66 years and it was sad to see how much her mum missed him.

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