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heartbreaking loss Country star Robert Mizzell opens up about losing dad to Covid-19

'Dad came off the ventilator & we thought he’d rounded the corner...before I left for the airport he was gone...'

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Robert Mizzell with his dad Richard, who died of Covid-19

Robert Mizzell with his dad Richard, who died of Covid-19

Robert Mizzell with his wife Adele and their children

Robert Mizzell with his wife Adele and their children

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Robert Mizzell with his dad Richard, who died of Covid-19

Country music star Robert Mizzell has revealed how becoming a success in Ireland led to him reconnecting with his estranged father who died last month after contracting Covid-19.

Robert, who grew up in foster care in his native Louisiana for much of his childhood as a result of conflict in the family home, had cut his ties with his four-times-married father, Richard.

The father and son didn't speak for a decade when Robert moved to Ireland at the age of 20.

After building a successful career here and becoming one of our top country music singers, Robert then decided to contact his music-loving dad with the aim of mending fences.

"I began thinking about my father again, and the music gave me an excuse to pick up the phone to him one day," Robert tells the Sunday World. "I knew how much my dad loved music. He'd always wanted to be a professional singer and he could have been in different circumstances.

"So we talked, and he knew I was singing over here. That was the start of rebuilding the relationship. We kept in touch then and I softened towards him and he softened towards me."

Bands

When Richard died on January 2, Robert was devastated, but also relieved that they had enjoyed a good relationship in his final years.

Richard, a talented singer with a great stage presence, had fronted amateur bands playing local bars in his younger days.

"Both my parents were great singers, and given the opportunities I reckon they had the potential for careers on the world stage," Robert says.

In latter years Robert had given his father a taste of the big time when the pair performed the Johnny Cash classic, I Walk The Line, on the Late Late Show Country Music Special in 2019.

They also recorded a duet called Like Father, Like Son on Richard's last visit to Ireland. Robert also included Richard as a special guest singer in his concerts.

"My dad definitely had star quality and a great flair about him and, actually, I'll admit that I was even envious of him a few times when I saw him on stage with us. Even though I had done so well here in Ireland myself, he was stealing the show and I was thinking, 'you boll***ks'," he laughs.

"But I was delighted, more so now that he's gone, that I was able to do that for him and give that to him."

Robert describes his father as "a colourful character" who had been in the army and worked on an oil rig in the Gulf before Robert was born.

"He was married to his first wife, Nancy from Kentucky, only for a couple of years and I have two half-brothers there. He was very young at the time," Robert reveals.

"My mother, Loretta, from Shreveport, Louisiana, was his second wife and there were three of us children in that marriage.

"Then he married Brenda from Connecticut, and they were together for nearly 20 years until she passed away. And then he was married to Joan for the last 10 years.

"He had a super bad temper when we were kids. And I think a lot of that was frustration with his life. He drank a lot back then and there was physical abuse between him and his first wife and him and my mother… all that stuff happened. But he softened with the years, as we all do in our older age.

"Out of all the kids, I was probably the closest to him.

"We had similar interests. We loved to fish, he loved working with his hands and so did I, so we picked up on those things together."

However, Robert says their relationship fell apart when he moved to Connecticut with his father to work on the buildings at the age of 17.

"Those were a couple of tough years for me because I was only young at the start of it," Robert recalls. "He was starting another life with his third wife. I was sort of pushed to one side, which I suppose was natural because I was then a young adult.

"But I sort of didn't like the way that was all ending up, so I said 'I'm going to do my own thing', which I did. I had met a girl from Ireland and when she went home I followed her."

In November, Robert got the news that his father had contracted Covid-19. He was hospitalised and later put on a ventilator.

Heart

"He came off the ventilator and we thought he had rounded the corner," Robert says. "I spoke to him the day before Christmas Eve. He was very weak and it was difficult to make out what he was saying over the phone. He was trying to chat a little bit, but I just said, 'Look Dad, don't be trying to talk, just get yourself better.'

"Then I got the call at 6am on Saturday, January 2, that the family had been called in. Before I left for the airport later that morning he was gone."

Richard had been a pastor in latter years. "When he died his heart and soul was in the bible and into God," Robert adds.

"I like to think that he knocked on heaven's door and God said, 'Richard, after all is said and done, come on in here.' He did some silly things in his life and made some awful mistakes, but sure who didn't.

"He was a character and, despite everything, I can't think of anyone else that I'd like to call Dad."

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