Death of showband legend HughieBy Marie Louise McCrory
IRELAND’S oldest and most famous band leader has died following a long-term illness.
Hugh ‘Hughie’ Trainor, who was in his early eighties, passed away yesterday at Craigavon Area Hospital.
He is survived by his wife, Jean, and four children.
Born in Co Antrim, Mr Trainor lived most of his life in Armagh where, in the early 1920s, his father opened a music shop in English Street. A renowned jazz musician, he began music lessons at the age of six and went on to become an accomplished saxophonist and clarinetist.
Educated at St Malachy’s in Chapel Lane in Armagh, he went on to further study at Armagh Technical School. After building up a reputation as a first class entertainer playing with a string of local musicians around ballrooms in Armagh, the father-of-five formed his own band in the late sixties – The Melody Makers.
The band promoted themselves as the first showband in Ireland to take to the road. Eventually Hughie and the Melody Makers began running their own dancing class twice weekly at Armagh City Hall.
The band’s reputation led to them performing in top ballrooms in Glasgow, Birmingham, London and Coventry. During the course of his career, the music legend played with a range of top Irish musicians.
Hughie Trainor rose to stardom years later as the host of the Ballroom of Romance – a regular Saturday evening programme of dancing at an Armagh hotel.
The music world last night paid tribute to Mr Trainor, a “connoisseur of jazz”. Close friend, BBC personality George Jones described him as a “very well known, concise and proper musician”.
“In the midst of all the country and western music, he held his proper ideals of proper showband music.
“He was a brilliant musician, he was somewhat of a father figure, he lived and breathed it up to where we are today.
“He was a wonderful man and it is a sad loss to the music and showband world”.
Mr Trainor’s funeral Mass will take place tomorrow at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh at 11.30am. Burial afterwards will be in St Patrick’s Cemetery.