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Local singer pays tribute to Ray Sawyer

STRABANE singer-songwriter Brian Hassan has paid tribute to “larger than life character” Ray Sawyer, who passed away in recent days.

A vocalist and percussionist with Dr Hook & the Medicine Show Mr Sawyer died aged 81.
It was reported the American artist died “peacefully in his sleep” after a brief illness.

“I opened for the band on four different occasions,” Brian Hassan said this week. “For two gigs in 2011 and then when they returned to Ireland in 2014. I was very lucky as it was through local promoter, Joe Gallagher than I got the chance.

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“I had the pleasure of meeting Ray a couple of times. He was a nice guy but I would say he really lived life to the full.

“I remember it was at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast I was backstage with him and he was drinking whiskey ahead of the show. Someone said to him, “you know you have to go on stage soon.” Ray replied, “I’ve lived rock and roll all my life and I’m not going to change now.’ He would have been in his 70s at the time.”

Though primarily a backing vocalist and occasional percussionist on congas or maracas, he sang lead on Dr Hook’s hit song ‘The Cover of Rolling Stone’ and was a recognisable presence in the band owing to the eyepatch and cowboy hat he wore.

“He was a real gentleman,” Brian continued. “He would always meet people before and after shows. He was a great character to be around, a real larger than life character – a real character.”

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The Strabane Chronicle is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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