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Brian Kennedy in tribute to brother Bap following cancer death

Van Morrison offers condolences as 'giant' of the local music scene loses cancer battle

By Ivan Little

Published 02/11/2016

Bap Kennedy with his wife Brenda
Bap Kennedy with his wife Brenda
Bap Kennedy performing on stage

Singer songwriter Bap Kennedy, who lost his battle with cancer yesterday, has been described as one of the finest musicians ever to come out of Northern Ireland.

The 54-year-old singer from west Belfast was diagnosed with the disease in May and passed away with his wife Brenda by his bedside, as she had been throughout his illness.

His death was announced on his Facebook page along with a message that said he had been extremely brave until the end.

It added: "We would like to thank everybody for their kind messages of support over the past few months.

"These meant a lot to Bap and Brenda and helped Bap stay positive throughout his illness.

"We are also extremely grateful to all the staff at the Marie Curie hospice for their kindness and warm-heartedness during his stay."

Dear Facebookers, What a bizarre year 2016 has turned out to be.... but how uplifting it is to read so much warmth and...

Posted by Brian Kennedy on Wednesday, November 2, 2016
 

During his illness Bap, who had worked with superstars including Van Morrison, Mark Knopfler and Steve Earle, had kept fans up to date with his condition in an online blog.

He had also shared the news that he had been living with Asperger's syndrome, which he called the engine of his creativity.

Last night he was described by his friend Seamus O'Neill, drummer of Eighties Belfast band The Bank Robbers, as one of the giants of music here.

Bap played a sold-out gig last Valentine's Night in the Black Box and Seamus, who organises the Belfast City Blues Festival, pencilled his friend in for a concert in a 600-capacity marquee.

"But on the morning in May that the brochures were printed Bap contacted me and said that he wouldn't be able to do the festival because he had cancer," revealed Seamus.

"I was devastated. He was an immense talent.

"To me Bap was on a par as a singer songwriter with Van Morrison. His writing was magnificent."

It is with deep sadness that Van has heard of the passing of Bap Kennedy. Bap was loved by both fans and musicians in...

Posted by Van Morrison (Official) on Wednesday, November 2, 2016
 

Seamus said one of Bap's earliest bands, Energy Orchard, were totally underrated.

"They went to London and their debut album was one of the top three Irish albums of all-time, in my opinion," he said.

"They just didn't get the lucky breaks."

When he was told in August that his cancer was terminal, Bap said that he wanted to use what time he had to fix the things that he could "and put as much love as I can into the world before the boatman rows me across the big river".

He had been estranged from his brother and fellow singer Brian, but they were reunited over the summer.

It was also disclosed that Bap's last album Reckless Heart - which was recorded before he became seriously ill - was being released.

BBC radio and TV presenter Ralph McLean tweeted: "I'm Devastated.

"A gifted artist, songwriter and friend."

Singer Kaz Hawkins wrote: "Just hearing the sad news that Bap Kennedy has passed away tonight. R.I.P a Belfast songwriting legend."

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