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Music mourns record boss McBurney, who set many an artist on the road to fame


Billy McBurney, the Mr Music of Belfast, has died at the age of 84.

He was a legendary figure who launched many showbusiness artists to celebrity status in Northern Ireland.

Billy recorded church choirs of every denomination in the studios at his Premier Record shop in Belfast. They appeared on his Outlet label.

"It didn't matter which side of the religious line choirs or individual artists came from," said his son Liam.

"Father loved to put great home-bred voices and unique sounds on record."

It all began in the old St Mary's Hall studios in Bank Street, opened by the McBurney family more than half-a-century ago. One of his special stars was David McWilliams, whose cult song Days Of Pearly Spencer was laid down and became a worldwide success.

Colm And The Sundowners also made their recording debut at Outlet, and Billy recorded several youth bands.

Mr McBurney once said: "I take pride in the fact that I gave local artists and choirs of every denomination respectability on my labels, especially after the studio was moved to Smithfield in its heyday and finally at Gordon Street, behind St Anne's Cathedral".

Billy also recorded Lambeg drummers and Orange bands in his day. By the time he retired in 2002 he was an Ulster institution.

The firm changed hands when Billy retired, but he still kept a huge interest in music and was delighted when artists to whom he had given a big break like Gloria Hunniford (below), Hugo Duncan, Susan McCann and the group Barnbrack made it big in the industry.

Billy also dealt with orders for records and albums from inmates of Long Kesh, both loyalist and republican. One particular album that he loved to listen to in his retirement featured gospel singer Harry McClelland.

He was also fond of an album recorded by the Ballyclare Male Voice Choir.

Billy, who was born in Durham Street, Belfast, died in Our Lady's Care Home on the Falls Road.

He is survived by his wife, Roseleen, to whom he was married for 59 years, his children Marian, Regina, Audrey, Martin, Fiona, Roisin, Ciarna and Liam, and 23 grandchildren.

The funeral service will be on Saturday in St Brigid's Church on Derryvolgie Avenue and the interment will follow in Milltown Cemetery.

eddie mcilwaine

Belfast Telegraph


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