"From being there with Joe on stage for over 40 years, I sensed something wasn’t right with his demeanour or his voice”
Not only was he performing in the band that night, Frankie was also the promoter of the sold-out concert at the Abbeyleix Manor Hotel in Co Laois on September 27, 2007, when illness forced a devastated Joe to abruptly end his show after just a few songs.
Although Joe had been dealing with a number of health issues over the previous two years, Frankie, one of Ireland’s best-known musicians, recalls that the iconic singer had been in good form when he arrived at the venue on the afternoon of the event.
Recalling the events of that fateful night in his autobiography, A Million Miles Of Music, Frankie says: “About 9.30 it was show time and the band commenced a series of Joe’s many hits before his arrival on stage… when he did it was to a standing ovation and rapturous applause.
“Joe launched straight into his signature tune, You’re Such A Good Looking Woman. After a couple of songs, Joe took a small breather and started to perform the song Ciara.
"From being there with Joe on stage for over 40 years, I sensed something wasn’t right with his demeanour or his voice.
“When he completed the song, rather shakily he turned round to the band and shook his head.
“After this gesture to the band members, Joe turned back around to the audience and over the microphone, visible shaken, delivered the heart-rending words, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t continue and give the show 100pc tonight, and to be fair to you and myself, I have to finish, please forgive me.
“Then Joe left the stage. The audience, who just a few moments earlier were in ecstasy, crash landed and were in disbelief at what had just happened. We had only performed four songs.
“When we got back to the dressing room, Joe was already gone. He had left in a hurry, got into his car and headed for Dublin.”
Frankie never suspected then that this would be Joe’s final time on the stage.
He said he spoke to Joe that December, just a couple of days before he died. “I rang him two nights before Christmas Day,” he revealed.
“We’d usually touch base at Christmas. He was jovial on the phone and said, ‘I’m eating my dinner now.’ He was at home in Foxrock. I said to myself, a fella eating his dinner, that’s a good sign.”
Joe died at 3pnmon St Stephen’s Day. “It was devastating for all of us — his family, friends, the band and, of course, the fans,” Frankie says. “Joe was a unique man.”