Acclaimed musician Bryan “Tommy” Thomas was remembered for his “love, friendship and generous wit” after his death.
Homas – who was a founding member of cabaret act Clubsound – died peacefully in hospital over the weekend after falling ill.
In his mid 70’s he was writing all the material for Clubsound, one of the most popular show band groups here in the 1970’s and 80’s.
He was born in Wales and joined the army. He was later stationed in Omagh in the 1950s where he met his future wife and started a family.
Clubsound began life as a backing band and included Thomas who was born Bryan Glyn Thomas, George Jones, Barry Woods, Alan McCartney and Dave McKnight.
Van Morrison joined the band in practice sessions before they became the club sound then known as Monarch.
When Monarch disbanded, Morrison managed the band Them while the remaining members formed Clubsound.
Clubsound eventually evolved into a comedy cabaret act and had some fairly successful singles including Belfast, Belfast and Shankill Airways.
Bryan ‘Tommy’ Thomas with George Jones as a member of Clubsound
In a statement on behalf of the musician’s family, Thomas’ son Gareth said: “It is with immense sadness that we announce the peaceful death of Tommy Thomas.
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“He made us laugh as the driving intellect and exclusive writer behind the popular Ulster cabaret club sound. He gave us music as a tireless and dedicated mainstay of the larger Irish jazz scene and, last but not least, bestowed us with love, friendship and a generous wit.”
Yesterday Gareth said his dad was “the best dad anyone could ask for”.
He shared a eulogy he wrote ahead of his father’s memorial service on Thursday at Elwood & Capper’s Funeral Church in Dunmurry.
It states: “Mr. Thomas was given a name during his early service in the Army in the 1950’s that would define much of the rest of his life and career.
“There were just far too many Thomases in his regiment, according to his blue-faced, peaked-cap, blue-faced regimental sergeant major in the Coldstream Guards.
“And that’s why every trembling Thomas in the series has been nicknamed, or maybe even for some…. rebaptized.
“And so he became Tommy Thomas, his stage name for the rest of his life and one used by many who knew him for the duration of his and their relationships.
“Both founding member, driving intellect and exclusive screenwriter behind the popular Ulster cabaret act Clubsound, he made us laugh at a time in Ulster history when laughter was precious.
“The height of the riots was a difficult time, but Bryan could see humor in the conflict and the military occupation that it brought, and also how it could be brought up in a way that didn’t offend him.
“He was character-driven and at once a Native American, a sergeant major, a Pacific Islander, a farmer and even Humphrey Bogart, all with perfect accents and generous wit while deftly dancing across both sides of the sectarian divide.”
Showband legend George Jones described his friend and former bandmate as “one of a kind”.
“First and foremost, everything he seemed to touch was brilliant. He was a humble man, but once he was on stage and behind the drums, he was a giant,” he said.
“I met him at the end of 1969/70. In the early days he was just a brilliant drummer but later he took up writing. It was very satirical and although he was Welsh he took the ideology of Ulster humor very well.
“He would have had a little trouble with a few phrases and things that we were going to use here, so I would help polish the material up a bit so it sounds a little bit more real.
“I used to go to his house on Malone Road and over coffee he said, ‘I have this great idea,’ and that’s how it started.
“Some of our best tracks and songs came out of these brainstorming sessions.
“These writings by Tommy and the performances by ourselves brought some light and hope to the darkest hours of the Troubles. I will never forget him, he was brilliant and I will miss him very much. He was a one-off and they broke the mold when they made Tommy.”
A funeral notice for Mr Thomas read: “Beloved husband of Enid, Harmony Hill, Lisburn, beloved father of Gareth, father-in-law of Chola and grandfather of Saffron. Deeply regretted by the entire family circle.”
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/music/music-news/tributes-as-one-of-a-kind-showband-legend-bryan-tommy-thomas-dies-after-illness-41584441.html Tribute to ‘one and only’ show band legend Bryan ‘Tommy’ Thomas dies after illness