Sunday, December 06, 2009

Another Liam Clancy obit (NYT)


December 5, 2009
Liam Clancy, Last of the Folk Group, Dies at 74

Liam Clancy, an Irish troubadour and the last surviving member of the singing Clancy Brothers, who found fame in the United States and helped spread the popularity of Irish folk music around the world, died on Thursday in Cork, Ireland. He was 74.

His death was announced by his family and reported on the Web site He had been treated for pulmonary fibrosis, a lung disease, The Associated Press reported.

Wearing white Aran sweaters, the Clancy Brothers, joined by a fellow Irishman, Tommy Makem, won fans with musicality, sentimentality and irreverence, not unlike the Smothers Brothers a few years later, though without their penchant for patter.

Both authentic Irish and expatriate Irish, they were cultural crossovers, and, for a while, celebrities. When they were criticized, it was as the epitome of staged Irishness, as a documentary about Liam Clancy put it.

Mr. Clancy played guitar, sang in a bell-clear baritone, wore a friendly, slightly roguish expression and exuded a humorous world-weariness that made him beloved by his countrymen as quintessentially Irish. But he and his musical clan made their name in America.

It was in 1956 that Mr. Clancy, then 20 or 21 and intending to be an actor, immigrated to the United States, joining two of his older brothers, Tom and Paddy, in New York. He achieved some success as an actor; he and Tom starred as prison guards in a well-received stage dramatization of the Frank O’Connor story “The Guests of the Nation,” and he appeared on Broadway in a short-lived production of James Costigan’s “Little Moon of Alban.”

In the meantime, the brothers and Mr. Makem, a friend of Liam’s who had also immigrated, began singing together, performing rowdy and sentimental Irish folk tunes at clubs and fund-raisers and developing a local following. They recorded on a label established by Paddy Clancy, and in the early 1960s, billed as the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, they made a career-changing appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” They soon found themselves in the midst of the folk music revolution, touring and recording several albums.

Liam Clancy lived in Greenwich Village, where he befriended another young folk singer, Bob Dylan. They dated a pair of sisters, Mr. Clancy told interviewers. Recalling that time in an interview on Irish television two years ago, Mr. Clancy said that he, a Roman Catholic from rural Ireland, and Mr. Dylan, a Jew from a small Minnesota town, shared an important quality.

“People who were trying to escape repressed backgrounds, like mine and Bob Dylan’s, were congregating in Greenwich Village,” he said. “It was a place you could be yourself, where you could get away from the directives of the people who went before you, people who you loved but who you knew had blinkers on.”

Mr. Dylan told an interviewer in 1984: “I never heard a singer as good as Liam ever. He was just the best ballad singer I’d ever heard in my life. Still is, probably.”


read the rest HERE

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