No wedding ring and no hubby on stage - Imelda's independence day
Imelda May has told fans that she and her Big Bad Handsome Man husband are no longer together
Published 19/07/2015 | 02:30
The wedding ring is off and Imelda May has taken to the stage with a new guitarist - the singer announced this weekend that she and her husband Darrel Higham have decided to separate.
The Liberties chanteuse took to her social media page shortly after being contacted by the media about the break-up.
Friends say it is only "a matter of weeks" since the couple decided to go their separate ways.
Imelda is taking time out on holidays and is being comforted by family and friends as she deals with the end of her 13-year marriage with her band's guitarist.
Last month, the singer filmed episodes for The Imelda May Show, which is back on RTE One this week, but her husband features nowhere in the new series.
And notably, on July 4 - US independence day - her wedding ring was nowhere to be seen as she appeared on stage at Marlay Park in Dublin.
She also had a new guitarist accompanying her as she wowed fans with her hits.
In the past, Imelda and her husband had performed separately, not wanting to risk ruining their relationship on the road. Later, however, Darrel became an integral part of the band and now, with the split, a source close to the singer said it is likely to mean big changes for the band. "It's always been Imelda's band from the very start. They're in business together, but Imelda is very much the boss of that band and she's always made that clear," said the source.
"She and her career can survive without needing to depend on Darrel too much. So no matter what, she'll be OK. She's her own woman."
Imelda has famously written several love songs about her husband, who inspired hits such as Big Bad Handsome Man and Falling in Love With You Again on her Love Tattoo album. She is also known for her willingness to talk about her husband and family with the media.
However, in an interview in the RTE Guide which hit the shelves only days before the announcement, the singer bristled when asked about her personal life.
After saying that the couple's three-year-old daughter Violet is more like her than her husband, she abruptly asks: "Are we going to talk about the show? I think I have talked about my family life until I am blue in the face and anyone reading it will say I've been saying the same things for the last seven to 10 years!"
However, later on in the interview it seems the singer doesn't mind opening up about her family - as long as she's discussing her parents.
Imelda gave numerous interviews last year, saying she would like more children after getting her album out.
The singer is said to have dropped at least one dress size in recent weeks and is noticeably slimmer. But she has put her weight loss down to going out running to clear her head, rather than to relationship woes.
Imelda and her husband met in 1997 and Violet was born in August 2012. Over the years she has also been very open about their relationship together on the road.
Describing in 2009 how the pair have had their ups and downs, she said: "You fall in and out of love a lot over the years - myself and my husband have been together for 12 years.
"I've seen my parents go through periods where they want to kill each other. And then you see periods where they're absolutely madly in love."
In May last year she said: "We have our normal ups and downs. We do have times when we want to strangle each other."
Some of the tiffs feature in a song on the new album called Round The Bend.
"Oh God, yeah, he drives me mad. But to be fair, I have used both our annoying habits in the song," Imelda said last year.
Asked if she ever sang a song to get at Darrel, she said: "I do look over at him when I sing it. And like any husband, he completely ignores me. It's quite a normal relationship even on stage - I shout at him and he blanks me!"
The couple famously got together when they had very little money and success was a distant dream. In her song Kentish Town Waltz, Imelda poignantly describes how they lived on "stews that lasted three days into four" while "those dreadful bailiffs return to our door".
She sings: "But we stuck with each other with all our might/We pulled it together and held on tight/And I'm glad for us, yeah I'm glad mo chroi/But it's nothing to anyone 'cept you and me/ There are wrongs for every right, there's ups and there's downs/But you're the one for all my life/My true love I have found, yeah, you my love I found."
The star came to attention in 2007 with the release of Love Tattoo. The album won widespread acclaim and the first two singles, Johnny Got a Boom Boom and Big Bad Handsome Man went global.
In 2010, Imelda performed at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, and with the release of her third album, Mayhem, she appeared on late-night US talk shows with Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien and Craig Ferguson.
In a statement this weekend, Imelda said the couple continue to have love and respect for each other.
She wrote: "Okay, so here it goes. My husband Darrel and I have split up.
"As you can imagine, we are very sad but happy we're making the right decision for us and our daughter who is doing really well, by the way. The papers are running with it soon. Weird to have your life as gossip, but that's human nature. No matter what you hear and read, my husband and I have the deepest love and respect for each other and are doing well. We are lucky to both have such amazing family and friends.
"As you know, I hate to air my laundry in public and never do, but thought I should put something on here to dispel any bad rumours. I wish you and yours much love.
"God bless. Imelda. X."