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Sonny Knowles launching Oesophageal Cancer Awareness Week in 2011.

Showband singer Sonny Knowles has died aged 86

Fans and friends have been paying tribute to the singer this afternoon.

SHOWBAND SINGER SONNY Knowles has died aged 86.

The performer had a long and glittering career which he started in Dublin in the 1950s as a clarinet player. 

He eventually went on to perform with The Pacific Showband and the Earl Grill Showband before going solo.

He regularly performed with the National Concert Orchestra and toured the United States as well as Europe. 

Knowles was a supporter of the Irish Cancer Society and frequent performer at charity galas.

“Sonny Knowles was one of the most underrated vocalists of the big performers of that period – the Perry Comos, the Sinatras, and an absolute gentleman,” promoter Pat Egan said. 

It was an absolute honour and pleasure to work with Sonny and delighted that we contributed to two of the highpoints of his career – both the platinum sales of 20,000 for his album ‘The Best of Sunny Knowles’ and two sell out concerts at the National Concert Hall in 2006 and 2007.

RTÉ broadcaster Joe Duffy said on this afternoon’s Liveline programme that Knowles had passed away this morning surrounded by family.

Friends, fans and former colleagues of Knowles spoke to Duffy to share their memories of the singer.

Singer Red Hurley said he was “a lovely man, a lovely, gentle man” while Eamon Carr, the former Horslips drummer, said on Twitter that he was a top singer and “master craftsman”.

Presenter Maxi said Knowles was “generous with his time and generous with his wisdom”. “I’m heartbroken – what a gentleman,” she added. 

Stephen Travers of the Miami Showband tweeted that Knowles was “Ireland’s King of Cabaret”.

“A wonderful musician and, most of all, and true gentleman. Sincere condolences to his wife Sheila, daughters Geraldine and Aisling and son Gary,” he added.

- With reporting by Daragh Brophy 

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