Fiddlin' Tom Cameron, a true giant of Irish country music both in stature and in talent
Fiddlin' Tom Cameron, described as a giant of Irish country music because of his stature and longevity, has died.
Tom's interest in music was sparked at an early age by his uncle Reidie Cameron, who played a three-string banjo.
At the age of seven he taught himself to play the fiddle by ear, and it became his instrument of choice throughout the majority of his career.
But Tom, who was born in Magheramorne outside Larne, was also an accomplished musician on other instruments, playing the trumpet in his first band, The Regent, for eight years.
In 1960 he decided to form his own band, The Cameron Clan, with three fellow Larne men.
Tom played the drums, and it was with this band that he cut his first album, Lightning Express.
The Cameron Clan later morphed into The Coasters, and Tom and his fellow musicians toured Ireland as well as playing in England, Belgium and a three-month stint in Paris.
With the advent of discos Tom decided to diversify once again and toured Ireland for four or five years with his Big Tom Cameron Country Music Machine.
His heart was always in playing live music and afterwards he returned to gigging with son Graeme and toured across the UK.
In more recent years he played as a solo artist gaining a widespread following, and was a familiar figure at the Auld Lammas Fair in Ballycastle.
Tom was involved in country music for more than 50 years, and he released six albums during that time.
His music was often played on country shows on Radio Ulster and Downtown, and until shortly before his death he had his own weekly country music slot on Donegal's Radio North.
Among the tributes paid to Tom, who died on Sunday, was one from Carnlough funeral director Michael McSparron, who is also a country music performer.
Michael, who is known as The Singing Undertaker, credited Tom with helping him to get started in the music industry approximately 15 years ago.
Tom, who lived outside Glenarm in north Antrim, is survived by his wife May and Graeme.
His funeral takes place today at Carnalbanagh Presbyterian Church, with a private burial at Ballycarry New Cemetery.
by Laurence White