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Tributes paid following death of Belfast-born music star Crawford Bell: ‘One of life’s real gentlemen’

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Mr Bell constantly appeared in the credits of three of Ireland’s top entertainers, namely Daniel O’Donnell, Nathan Carter and Sir Van Morrison, often serving as a backing vocalist for these stars.

He was also a talented guitarist and trumpet player, playing with most of Ireland’s Showband greats as well as American country stars.

Fermanagh-based country music heartthrob Nathan Carter said he is saddened by the news, describing his fellow artist in a social media post as “one of the nicest musicians I ever worked with and a true professional”.

Daniel O’Donnell added that he too “was so sorry to hear of the passing of Crawford Bell”.

“Crawford was a very talented musician and singer,” continued the Donegal celebrity.

“Along with Trionagh Allen and Leon McCrum, he provided the backing vocals for many of my recordings starting in 1987.

“He also toured with us for a number of years. He was an absolute gentleman.

“On behalf of Majella and myself I extend our sympathies to his wife Hazel and all his family and friends at this sad time. Rest in peace Crawford.”

Promoter Malcolm McDowell described Mr Bell, who lived in Carryduff but was born in Belfast, as “one of life’s real gentlemen,” and added: “A truly generous, inspirational, talented, humble and caring human being. Crawford you’ll be very sadly missed by everyone in the music industry who all looked up to and held you in the highest esteem and with the utmost respect.”

Magherafelt musician Brendan Quinn noted that Mr Bell had been due to appear on his 60th Anniversary tour in Newtownabbey this June, but called to cancel because of his health.

“Crawford was a brilliant musician who covered many genres but most of all he was a true gentleman,” Mr Quinn continued.

“My sincere condolences to his family and close friends and may his gentle soul rest in peace.

Mr Bell enjoyed a long, musical life, playing his first proper gig at the age of 16.

This journey has taken him to dance halls, concert halls, television, radio and recordings studios all over the place.

He is survived by Hazel, his wife of over 50 years, and his sons, Owen and Warren, as well as his grandchildren, Sophia, Caitlin, Grace and Elliot.

A death notice for the NI star also notes that he was “the dear brother of Sloan”.

A celebration of Mr Bell’s life will be held in Carryduff Presbyterian Church on Monday (April 8) at 2.00pm, with interment afterwards in the adjoining churchyard.

Writing for The Belfast Telegraph in 2018, BBC Radio Ulster broadcaster Hugo Duncan praised Mr Bell’s talents, stating that “to say that he exerted a huge influence on the bands in which he played would be something of an understatement”.

“Not only was he a true professional but his personal qualities, ensured that he gained the respect of everyone,” continues ‘Uncle Hugo’.

“In his own quiet, unfussed manner, Crawford invariably left a huge impact, and I have spoken to many musicians who have benefited from his expertise.

“His feel for music, utter dedication and inherent honesty and diligence have helped to make him one of the most influential forces in country music here in Ulster.”

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