October 18, 2017 – Eamonn Campbell was born on November 29, 1946 in Drogheda in County Louth, but later moved to Walkinstown, a suburb of Dublin. He heard Elvis’ That’s All Right for the first time when he was 10; got his first guitar when he was 11 and taught himself how to play it in the next several year.
He had his first gig at 14 and never really looked back, even though there were early plans to take up accounting. In 1964, he graduated high school with the intention of becoming an accountant. “But his accountant’s brain told him he’d make much more money out of gigging.” So instead he would go on to play for bands such as The Viceroys, The Checkmates and The Delta Boys. He also played locally with the The Bee Vee Five and the Country Gents before joining Dermot O’Brien and the Clubmen and he first met The Dubliners when both acts toured England together in 1967. Over the years that followed he got into production and often sat in with the Dubliners, which had formed in 1962.
The Dubliners were hard-drinking backstreet Dublin scrappers with unkempt hair and bushy beards, whose gigs seemed to happen by accident in between fist fights”.
The Dubliners were known and loved around the world for their hard driving Irish folk music but by the 1980s was waning as several original members had suddenly passed away or left the line up.
The Dubliners regained their earlier popularity when Eamonn Campbell, who had often been a guest musician on their albums, produced an album, Celebration, featuring a collaboration with the London Irish band the Pogues on an updated version of the traditional folk song “The Irish Rover.”
Released as a single, the tune reached number seven on the British music charts. Campbell subsequently joined the band as a regular member. In 1990, the Dubliners and the Pogues reunited for a single, “Jack’s Heroes”/”Whiskey in the Jar,” that celebrated Ireland’s quarter-final finish at the World Cup. Two years later, the Dubliners joined with Hothouse Flowers to record a single, “The Rose,” that reached number two on the British music charts. 30 Years A’Greying, released the same year, featured collaborations with Rory Gallagher, Billy Connolly, and De Danaan.
Campbell produced all of the Dubliners’ albums from 1987 onwards, as well as albums for many other Irish artists, including Foster and Allen, Brendan Shine, Daniel O’Donnell and Paddy Reilly.
In December 1995, Ronnie Drew left the band for the second time and was replaced by Paddy Reilly. Despite the changes in the band’s lineup, they continued to perform and record their gutsy style of Irish music.
In 2002, Campbell put a complaint to a Commission to Inquire into Sexual Abuse as he said he was abused by The Christian Brothers as a child. In an interview he said “I felt emotional with hate at what this arsehole had got away with. He was abusing the whole class. I still haven’t heard anything back.”
He was the Grand Master for the 2009 Drogheda St Patrick’s Day Parade. In his younger years Campbell taught guitar lessons at the “Music Shop” in Drogheda.
When in April 2012, Barney McKenna, the last surviving original member of the Dubliners, died at age 72 in his home in Howth, County Dublin, The Dubliners as a band retired. But Campbell kept on touring with the three other ex-Dubliners as “The Dublin Legends” .
Eamonn Campbell died at age 70 on October 18, 2017 after falling ill while on tour with the Dublin Legends in the Netherlands.
“Eamonn was a true Legend and a brilliant guitar player. He passed away peacefully surrounded by his wife and family. He will be greatly missed by all his friends and fans around the world. We are heartbroken and we thank you all for your thoughts and prayers at this time.”