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sad loss Music legend Brian Coll remembered as 'the most authentic voice of Irish country'

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COUNTRY music legend Brian Coll, who died suddenly yesterday, was regarded as “the most authentic voice of Irish country.”

Fr Brian D’Arcy, a life-long fan and close friend of Brian Coll who sang at his ordination in 1969, said today that the Omagh singer had the potential to be a superstar on the world stage, but had chosen to base himself in Ireland.

“I was in Nashville with Brian and Ray Lynam in 1972. George Jones wanted Ray Lynam to stay there and be a big singer, and

Charley Pride wanted Brian Coll to base himself there,” Fr Brian told the Sunday World.

“Charley offered Brian any money to stay, saying ‘If you stay here for six months you’ll be a massive star.’

“But both of them were married and had families at home, so they chose to stay in Ireland. They were world class singers that were never really fully appreciated here at home. Brian was one of those singers who should have been bigger.”

Brian Coll was the go-go country star to support the American legends when they came to Ireland in the early days. “He opened shows for a lot of the big Nashville stars,” Fr Brian points out.

“Any time Charley Pride played here in concert he would always bring Brian Coll out to sing with him. He had enormous respect for his singing and for the quality of his voice.

“I’ve said this many times, Brian was the only singer I would go out and stand in the snow to listen to. I just thought he had the most wonderful voice. There a lovely lilt in his voice. It was beautiful.”

Brian Coll had a singing career spanning 55 years, during which he played with bands that included The Polka Dots and The Plattermen.

He formed The Buckaroos in 1968. The following year Brian Coll and The Buckaroos played New York’s Carnegie Hall on a bill that included American country superstars Johnny Cash and Buck Owens.

Coll’s singing style has often been compared to one of his own idols, American country great Slim Whitman. In 1970, Brian was one of a handful of top Irish country singers who shared a stage with Whitman when he played the National Stadium in Dublin.

“Slim Whitman was a big singer who yodelled and Brian’s early records were of that nature. I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen was his first big hit. Then he became a big recorder of Merle Haggard songs,” Fr Brian recalls.

Fr Brian also remembers that Brian Coll was a motorcycling fan and had sponsored the late Joey Dunlop at the height of his career.

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“Joey Dunlop was Brian’s best pal,” Fr Brian reveals. “Brian himself loved motorcycles and was never off them. I remember one time he had a Honda 750, and he rode it down to me in Mount Argus (Dublin) one day to bless it. The he said to me, ‘Would you like a spin?’ God bless us, I had the bad luck to say I would. And off we went up the Dublin mountains, flying around corners. I thought I’d never get home alive. But he was a good motorcyclist.”

Daniel O’Donnell said: “So sorry to hear that Brian Coll has died. He was a great singer and a lovely person.”

Brian Coll died from a heart attack while out and about in Omagh yesterday.

The legend of Irish country will be sadly missed by his loyal fans and beloved family.

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