Entertainment Music

Monday 24 July 2017

Stars bid sad farewell to 'Fitzy' - a musician and true original

The coffin of much-loved musician Pat Fitzpatrick is taken into the chapel at Mount Jerome crematorium Photo: Tony Gavin
The coffin of much-loved musician Pat Fitzpatrick is taken into the chapel at Mount Jerome crematorium Photo: Tony Gavin
Jim Cusack

Jim Cusack

Musicians from the north and south of Ireland yesterday attended the funeral of Pat Fitzpatrick.

Pat, a much-loved pianist with several Irish rock bands since the early 1980s, left his native Belfast for good after causing 'mayhem' during a performance of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar in the city's Arts Theatre.

The wife of musician Pat Fitzpatrick, Rebecca Smith Photo: Tony Gavin
The wife of musician Pat Fitzpatrick, Rebecca Smith Photo: Tony Gavin

Known for his intolerance of poor performing and at what he felt was a mediocre musical, 'Fitzy' walked out on the well-paying regular musical theatre job by playing the theme tune from The Muppets during the Jesus Christ Superstar crucifixion scene.

The show attracted a strongly evangelical Protestant audience in Belfast and there was uproar in the theatre. He was sacked on the spot - achieving his intention.

He left Belfast for Dublin and never returned, initially moving south with a group of friends who formed the popular alternative rock band Katmandu.

Patrick, who died last week from cancer aged 60, moved on to play with a number of successful rock bands in Dublin, including The Blades, Fountainhead, Something Happens, Aslan, Swim, Francis Black, Mary Coughlan and The Music People.

Christy Dignam Photo: Tony Gavin
Christy Dignam Photo: Tony Gavin

He was also a fixture at RTE for years as an arranger and performer most notably on Pat Kenny shows. Pat also performed regularly with major visiting artists including Van Morrison on many occasions.

He was classically trained and received a scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London, despite some difficulty in getting a grant from the Education Board in Belfast, which friends and family felt was religiously biased against him as a pupil of the Catholic grammar school, St Malachy's. This probably contributed to his dislike of Northern Ireland.

In a tribute to Pat's versatility and depth of musical knowledge, his friend Brian Foley, of The Blades, said: "Not forgetting his early training, he would throw in a snatch of Mendelssohn's Wedding March before the start of The Bride Wore White or at a soundcheck he might play The Liberty Bell march (theme from Monty Python's Flying Circus).

"Once, he even gave us a tutorial on how alike the chords and structure of the Mod anthem Heatwave was to the old 1930s song The Charleston!" Pat recently married his long-term partner, the actress Rebecca Smith. He was the father of two daughters from a previous marriage and another relationship.

Tom Dunne Photo: Tony Gavin
Tom Dunne Photo: Tony Gavin

His remains were cremated after a humanist ceremony at Mount Jerome in Dublin yesterday. Among the many figures from the world of music who attended, were members of Aslan, Tom Dunne of Something Happens, jazz singer Mary Coughan, songwriter Shay Healy, impresario Pat Egan and Eamonn Campbell of the Dubliners.

Mary Coughlan Photo: Tony Gavin
Mary Coughlan Photo: Tony Gavin
Shay Healy Photo: Tony Gavin
Shay Healy Photo: Tony Gavin

Sunday Independent

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