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Distraught Big Tom 'couldn't go on living without mum', says singer's daughter

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HIS ROCK: Singing legend Big Tom with his wife Rose

HIS ROCK: Singing legend Big Tom with his wife Rose

HIS ROCK: Singing legend Big Tom with his wife Rose

The daughter of country superstar Big Tom has revealed he died broken-hearted just three months after the death of his beloved wife.

A new RTE documentary on the life of the king of Irish country music reveals Tom's devastation when his wife Rose McBride died in January, 2018.

Tom's daughter, Aisling McBride-Duffy, said her father never expected his wife to die before him.

She said: "Mum getting sick was quite a shock. Although she had an underlying health condition, it never really held her back.

"She was the healthy one, he was the sick one and he was older than Mum. I think Dad always felt he would be the one who would go first.

"When Mum got sick, he didn't have much time to come to terms with it.

"It was a great shock to him that she actually had passed and he just couldn't cope with it. He felt a major part of him was missing and 12 weeks later he was gone."

The documentary reveals how the singer, known as Ireland's answer to Johnny Cash, first got the nickname Big Tom while playing Gaelic football in his youth, due to his strapping frame. RTE's Cloch Le Carn looks back on the 50 years that Big Tom reigned at the top of the charts. His regal status was cemented when Susan McCann sang Big Tom Is Still The King in 1978.

"Within about six months of that song coming out I was a household name," she said. "Every Big Tom fan in the country bought that song."

The new documentary traces how the country music star, who was born in 1936, came from modest farming beginnings in Oram, Co Monaghan, before joining the The Mainliners band in the 1960s.

In 1966, they shot to national fame when they performed Gentle Mother on RTE's The Showband Show.

The RTE One documentary reveals he became the first Irish recording artist to sell 50,000 records and had amassed countless No.1 hits.

He also managed to record in Nashville, despite his chronic fear of flying, which meant he sailed to New York on the QE2. His fear stemmed from being on an aeroplane home from London that caught fire on take-off and was forced to return to the runway.

"He had an absolute dread of flying," said his friend Kevin McCooey, "So much so, that he sailed to America with Johnny McCauley, who had the record company with Tom and then he went from New York to Nashville by Greyhound bus.

Despite his huge success, his long-time friend Margo said he was very much a family man. "He was so in love with Rose, sometimes I used to tell them to go and get a room," she said.

'Cloch Le Carn - Big Tom' will be shown on RTE One this Tuesday at 7pm.

Sunday Independent