Saturday, August 16, 2008

R.I.P., Ronnie Drew

The great Irish folk singer Ronnie Drew passed away today after a long illness. Drew was 73. He helped found The Dubliners in 1962 and, except for a seven-year hiatus in the Seventies, stayed with them until 1995, when he left to pursue a solo career. Drew's gruff, slightly flat baritone seemed an unlikely match with the pristine perfection expected of Irish singers, but his interpretations of traditional and modern Irish songs evoked the grittiness of the Dublin streets in a way that catapulted him to international fame. Here, he sings about Dublin in "The Rare Old Times" before strolling across the Ha'penny Bridge to converse with a produce seller:

No hidebound traditionalist, Drew and the rest of The Dubliners joined The Pogues for a memorable rendition of "The Irish Rover":

Drew's solo career was especially noteworthy for his collaboration with trad singer Eleanor Shanley, spectacularly so on the live CD A Couple More YearsHere, they duet on Bob Dylan's "Boots Of Spanish Leather":

Drew's Myspace profile is here, and you can read more about his life and career here. In the meantime, let's raise a parting glass to the great Ronnie Drew:

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