Tributes to Eric Wrixon who helped form Them and Thin Lizzy
The blues and rock world is mourning the loss of Eric Wrixon, a founding member of legendary bands Them and Thin Lizzy.
The 68-year-old Belfast man was found dead in his Italian apartment on Monday.
It is understood he had been in ill health for some time, although he was still performing regularly.
He played keyboard and harmonica in bands fronted by two of Ireland's greatest music stars - Van Morrison in Them and the late Phil Lynott in Thin Lizzy.
Although he was one of the original line-up in both bands, he left before they enjoyed success and fame.
Eric played on Thin Lizzy's first single, The Farmer, which was released in 1970.
He lived off the Knock Road in east Belfast with his family before leaving Northern Ireland for long periods, living in both Germany and Italy.
Wrixon will be remembered for helping to form the two seminal bands - in Belfast and Dublin - within a four to five-year period in the 1960s.
Them guitarist Billy Harrison remembered him as the band "junior", who although teased often because of his youth, was still confident enough to have his say.
"Eric was only 16 when he first played with us in Them and it was only for about six months while we were still playing in the Maritime," he told the Belfast Telegraph yesterday.
"We used to take the hand out of him for being so young when we would rehearse and play at the Maritime, but not in a bad way.
"He was in the band at a mad time, and just as things were taking off for us in a big way."
It was his parents' insistence that he remain in school that resulted in Eric missing out on success with Them as the band got its first recording contract and had hits with songs such as Gloria, Baby Please Don't Go and Here Comes The Night.
Eric then went on to form Thin Lizzy in Dublin in 1969 with former Them guitarist Eric Bell, Brian Downey and the legendary Lynott.
He played on The Farmer before leaving Lizzy.
Musician Eric Wrixon, who has died aged 68 at his home in Italy, was the talented keyboard player who came up with the name of the band that launched the career of Van Morrison.
The name was Them, which Eric liked after watching the science fiction film of the same name.
Eric, who owned the Them name, began his music career in a band called The Gamblers, who were favourites at the Top Hat in Lisburn.
Morrison liked his style on keyboards and persuaded Eric to join his new R&B group at the Maritime Club in Belfast.
It was there that they both sat down one afternoon and Eric picked the title of the band, which still stirs old memories to this day.
He was with Them in 1964 when the band was offered a record deal by Decca, but as a minor, his parents refused to sign it. He left the band, briefly rejoined a year later, before leaving again.
He wound up with the Belfast Blues Band, with whom he toured in Europe, eventually settling down in Italy near the town of Rimini, where he died.