Sadness at passing of Dub legend Christy Dignam aged 63

by Gazette Reporter
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Christy Dignam’s death on Tuesday of this week at 63 years of age removes a brilliant singer, a loving family man and a quintessential Dub from our midst.

Beloved by all, his heart shone through in everything he did and in particular he will be remembered for his unique voice and interpretation of the songs he wrote and covered down the decades.

The Aslan frontman had well-known struggles with addiction in life but endeared himself to the Irish public in the way he faced up and conquered those demons.

His appearance on the Late, Late Show on RTE in the last series brought an overwhelming response to host Ryan Tubridy’s interview with him as he talked of his love for his family and having to face up to the inevitability of his own pending death.

The Finglas denizen was always engaging with whatever audience he spoke or sang to and it was with Aslan where he cemented his  musical legacy for this and coming generations.

The band formed in the seventies and from their debut single ‘This is’ stardom beckoned and the group signed up with EMI. Their first album  ‘Feel No Shame’ became a No 1 in the Irish charts but more importantly Christy’s vocals  received critical acclaim for their distinctiveness and freshness.

On the cusp of international recognition,  Christy and the band split before their second album due to well documented drug issues he suffered at the time.

While he continued to perform sporadically as Dignam and Goff (well-known guitarist Conor Goff), it was following a supposed one off gig with Aslan 30 years ago this year that the band reformed and really hit the heights with their biggest hit ‘Crazy World.’

Christy’s daughter Kiera posted a heartfelt tribute on her Facebook page on Tuesday announcing his passing. “On Behalf of my family, it is with a broken heart that we convey the news of my father’s passing, Christy Dignam. Dad peacefully left us where he wanted to, at home today 4pm Tuesday, June 13th 2023, after a courageously long-fought battle, surrounded by his family.”

Buoyed by this and although still struggling to shake the habit, Christy embarked on a journey to Thailand where he spent some time recuperating and learning at a Buddhist Monastery. While not totally stopping  his using habit, the lead singer pin-pointed that experience as a turning point in his life and in helping him ultimately to stay clean of his addiction.

Every fan knew his plight and because of that, his gigs in places like Vicar Street seemed to be extra-special occasions as both the audience and performer formed bonds that were never subsequently broken.

Ten years ago, Christy was diagnosed with amyloidosis. The abnormal plasma cells produce abnormal forms of light chain proteins, which enter the bloodstream and can form amyloid deposits.

Correctional treatment for this illness was tough and his friends organised a concert in the Olympia Theatre to raise  finances to cover the cost of  the treatment and to show support for the singer as well. Among those who participated at the star-studded event were Mary Black, Mark Feehily, Danny O’Reilly while U2 sent a special recording of their own version of ‘This is.’

The President Michael D Higgins expressed “my deepest condolences to Christy’s wife Kathryn, to his daughter Kiera, to his bandmates in Aslan, and to his wide circle of family and friends.”

Aslan’s Official band page said: “We are beyond devastation to have lost not just our band member, but our friend, Christy, that we have so many many years of sharing our lives with. The Band and Christy’s family, ask for you to respect their privacy at this time.

The Script duo Danny and Glen said they were blessed to have shared time on stage with Christy and Aslan. “We’ve lost a Legend, one of a kind, our thoughts and prayers are with his family RIP Christy.”

Ar Dheis Dé go raibh a anam dilís.

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