Tommy Makem Dies at 74
Irish singer, songwriter and storyteller Tommy Makem, who teamed with the Clancy Brothers to become stars during the folk music boom, has died of cancer. He was 74.
Makem died Wednesday, August 1, in Dover, where he lived for many years, his son Conor said Thursday. He had battled lung cancer.
The Irish-born Makem, who came to America in the 1950s to seek work as an actor, grew to international fame while performing with the band The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. The brothers, also from Ireland, were Tom, Liam and Paddy Clancy.
Armed with his banjo, tinwhistle, poetry, stagecraft and his baritone voice, Makem helped spread stories and songs of Irish culture around the world.
"He just had the knack of making an audience laugh or cry. ... holding them in his hands," Liam Clancy told RTE Radio in Dublin, Ireland.
The New York Times wrote in 1967 called them "an eight-legged, ambulatory chamber of commerce for the green isle they love so well. ... At one point, Irish teenagers were paying as much homage to them as to the Beatles."