Louis Walsh leads tributes to 'one of the greats', showband legend Brendan Bowyer

Brendan Bowyer was “one of the greats”, according to Louis Walsh, in one of many tributes that poured in for the man once dubbed Ireland’s Elvis.
Louis Walsh leads tributes to 'one of the greats', showband legend Brendan Bowyer

Showband legend Brendan Bowyer who has died in Las Vegas aged 81. Picture: RollingNews.ie
Showband legend Brendan Bowyer who has died in Las Vegas aged 81. Picture: RollingNews.ie

Brendan Bowyer was “one of the greats”, according to Louis Walsh, in one of many tributes that poured in for the man once dubbed Ireland’s Elvis.

The former X-Factor judge was speaking after news broke that the 81-year-old Royal Showband singer had died at his Las Vegas home.

While their most famous was the 1965 Number 1 hit 'The Hucklebuck', his band had a string of hits in the 1960s. They were so popular at one stage that The Beatles were the support act for them when they played in Liverpool on April 2, 1962 -  just six months before the release of 'Love Me Do'.

After leaving the Royal Showband in the 1970s, Brendan relocated to Las Vegas - where his idol and most famous fan Elvis Presley used to come and watch him perform.

“One of the first records I ever bought was 'The Hucklebuck' and it is still an Irish pop classic. He had a great life, he was a great artist and he had a great career," said Walsh.

“He was one of the greats.

‘It was Dicky Rock, Brendan Bowyer, and Joe Dolan - they were showband greats," said Walsh, adding that Brendan was "I bought The Huckelbuck and he had great records.“He was a great singer.“He was like an opera singer as well".

On their Facebook page, Cork band Crystal Swing, who gained worldwide attention in the past decade with their cover of 'The Hucklebuck', said: “We are deeply saddened to hear of Brendan's death. We have wonderful memories of him.

Brendan's death was announced on his official Facebook page, which read: “It is with deep sadness and regret that we announce the passing of Brendan Bowyer. Ireland's most beloved International entertainer for 62 years. Brendan passed away peacefully in Las Vegas on the late evening of May 28, 2020.

“He was surrounded by the unending love of his wife of 53 years, Stella, his three children, Brendan Jr., Aisling, Clodagh, and his two grandchildren, Liam and Nora Stella.

“Brendan was hoping to get back to his homeland, Ireland, one last time."

He had been due to tour Ireland earlier this year, with a concert planned for Dublin in February, culminating with one at the Wexford Opera House on February 12.

A native of Waterford city, Brendan Bowyer first came to prominence in 1959 as the lead singer for the Royal Showband. They were voted the Number One Modern Dance Band in Britain in 1961. They featured in the documentary film The One Nighters, which received a special award at the Cork Film Festival in 1963.

Brendan would later recall that, after he relocated to Las Vegas, one of his “treasured memories of this time” was when Elvis Presley came to see him perform.

On his website biography, it is noted: “Elvis was so impressed with Brendan’s performance of 'You Gave Me a Mountain' that he later recorded it himself and included it in his own programme and also featured it on his worldwide special,  Aloha From Hawaii.”

As well as performing in Las Vegas, Brendan regularly returned to Ireland throughout the 1980s for sellout summer seasons at Clontarf Castle in Dublin.

He recorded a number of albums in the 1990s, and in 2001, he released the album Follow On. It featured songs from U2, Van Morrison, Bob Geldof, Phil Lynott, Paul Brady, Shane McGowan, and Phil Coulter, and was a best-seller.

It led to tours in Ireland, the UK, and Australia, including one evening in Dublin’s Vicar Street when Van Morrison and Paul Brady joined him on stage.

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