Big Tom

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Big Tom
Big Tom in November 2004
Big Tom in November 2004
Background information
Birth nameTom McBride
Also known asBig Tom
Born(1936-09-18)18 September 1936
Castleblayney, Monaghan, Ireland
Died17 April 2018(2018-04-17) (aged 81)[1]
Drogheda, Louth, Ireland
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • saxophone
Years active1966–2018
Associated actsBig Tom and The Mainliners

Tom McBride (18 September 1936 – 17 April 2018), known as Big Tom, was an Irish country, traditional and easy listening singer, as well as a guitarist, and saxophone player.

With a career spanning over six decades, he started his career in 1966 as the frontman of the Irish showband Big Tom and The Mainliners.


On 1 February 2008, Big Tom began a 12-date tour of Ireland[2] after doctors gave him the all clear. On 25 May, Big Tom performed for the closure night of the Galtymore dance hall in Cricklewood, London.[3] On 27 July, Big Tom was the headline act at London's Irish Festival.[4] On 23 November, Big Tom headlined the Claremorris Dance Festival weekend. In July 2009, K-MAC Records announced more dates in Ireland for Big Tom and the Mainliners which commenced in August. From 14 August to 13 September 2009, Big Tom ran a successful tour of Ireland with large attendances[clarification needed] to venues. The highlight was the Glencarn Hotel in Tom's hometown Castleblayney where the concert was packed to capacity. The tour ended in Ennis, Clare, with fans travelling many miles to see Big Tom and the band. Two days after the end of the tour the band's trombone player and vocalist Cyril McKevitt died of a heart attack.

In 2010, Big Tom announced an extensive series of tour dates. From 2011 until his death in 2018, Big Tom and his band continued to perform with sporadic appearances.

Personal life[edit]

Big Tom suffered from a fear of flying. In 1980, he undertook a sea voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to record his Blue Wings album in Nashville.[citation needed]

In 2000, Big Tom underwent a nodule operation on his throat. In November 2006, Big Tom suffered a sudden heart attack at the age of 70,[5] which had put doubt into whether he would ever tour again with his band. on 24 March 2008, Big Tom performed at Castlebar's TF Ballroom's final farewell night (in its current guise) but he was reported to have taken ill on stage[6] during the performance.

In September 2004, Big Tom was reported to have been in a list of Irish tax evaders.[7] Big Tom was married to his wife Rose McBride until her death in January 2018.[8]

Hit songs[edit]

Big Tom had numerous Top 10 hits in the Irish Singles Chart:[9]

Title Position reached Entry date Artist credited
Gentle Mother 7 30 January 1967 Big Tom and The Mainliners
Old Log Cabin for Sale 4 21 October 1967
The Sunset Years of Life 3 23 July 1970
Broken Marriage Vows 1 19 February 1972
I Love You Still 1 4 January 1973
Old Love Letters 1 16 May 1974
Four Country Roads 5 16 May 1981 Big Tom
Streets of Dublin City 7 15 November 1981
If I Needed You 10 18 March 1984
Jealous Heart 9 7 April 1984


Vinyl albums[edit]

Prior to 1990 all of Big Tom's audio music releases (over 20 albums) were on vinyl record (or cassette) and are now out of print. Since 1990 the release format became CD (or cassette).

Title Artist credited Year Record Label Issue Code
The All Time Hits of Big Tom and The Mainliners Emerald GES1051
Little Bit of Country and Irish 1969 GES1076
From Ireland 1970 GES1077
I'll Settle For Old Ireland 1971 GES1102
Requests! 1972 Denver DEB102
Image of Me DNV 2
Ashes of Love DNV 3
Smoke Along The Track DNV 4
Souvenirs 1975 DNV 5
When The Roses Bloom Again Big Tom & The Travellers 1975 DNV 6
Travel On 1977 DNV 7
I Would Like To See You Again 1978 DNV 8
At The Irish Festival 1979 DNV 9
Blue Wings Big Tom 1980 DNV 10
Four Country Roads Big Tom & The Travellers 1981 DNV 11
Songs From Home and Faraway 1982 DNV 12
DNV 14
Teardrops in the Snow 1985 DNV 15
Around Ireland 1986 DNV 16

Compilation vinyl albums[edit]

Title Artist credited Year Record label Issue code
Favourites 1980 K-Tel KLP55
The Heart of Country Music Denver
King of Country Music – Volume 1 Big Tom 1977 BT1
King of Country Music – Volume 2
King of Country Music – Volume 3
King of Country Music – Volume 4
King of Country Music – Volume 5
King of Country Music – Volume 6
Hits by the Dozen DEB105

CD albums[edit]

The CD releases typically contain tracks which were previously issued on vinyl, however those marked * consist all tracks newly recorded and those marked ** consist of some tracks newly recorded. The 20 Golden Greats CD may be discontinued as all tracks have been reissued on latter CDs.
The Greatest Hits CD includes two tracks taken from the Live at the Glencarn Hotel video. The Live at The Galtymore CD is solely the soundtrack from the video of same name recorded in 1991.
It is intended by Big Tom's record company to reissue all vinyl tracks on to CD releases.

Title Artist credited Year
Today ** Big Tom and The Mainliners c.1990
Greatest hits c.1991
20 Golden Greats 1992
Out on Their Own * 1993
The Sweetest Gift * 1995
Songs I Like To Sing Big Tom c.1996
25 Golden Greats 1996
Souvenirs c.1998
Blue Wings (In Nashville) c.1999
The Irish Collection 1999
The Very Best of Irish Country 1999
Smoke Along The Track c.2000
When The Roses Bloom Again 2002
The Same Way You Came In ** Big Tom with Seamus McMahon 2005
Teardrops in the Snow Big Tom April 2007
Around Ireland ** March 2008
Ashes of Love Big Tom and The Mainliners August 2009
Four Country Roads Big Tom and The Travellers August 2009
The Image of Me Big Tom and The Mainliners August 2009
Requests August 2009
Live at The Galtymore June 2010
I am an Island * November 2010
Songs From Home & Faraway Big Tom October 2011
Travel On Big Tom and The Travellers October 2012
Lonesome at Your Table Big Tom and the Mainliners April 2013

The Ultimate Collection vol.1 Big Tom Due April 2014

Tom also recorded a duet track in 2009 with Frank Nelson:[10] Treasured Memories which is featured on Frank's album of the same name.


  • Live at the Glencarn Hotel, Castleblayney
  • Live at the Galtymore, London
  • In Concert at the Ardhowen Theatre, Enniskillen
  • The Sweetest Gift
  • The Very Best of (Compilation)
  • Back to Castleblayney, Live
  • Galtymore 2004, Live
  • Live in Birmingham and Manchester
  • Live in Castlebar 2008 (featuring The London Irish Festival)
  • Big Tom and the Mainliners – A Celebration (2016)


On 8 July 2005, a plaque was erected by the local community in Big Tom's home village of Castleblayney, County Monaghan.

In early 2016, Big Tom and the original Mainliners went on tour to mark 50 years since the release of their most enduring hit "Gentle Mother". From May until September, Big Tom and the Mainliners continued their summer tour to celebrate 50 years of "Gentle Mother"

In June 2016, Big Tom became the inaugural artist to be inducted into the Irish Country Music Hall of Fame.[11]

Susan McCann had a hit in 1977 with her recording of Big Tom Is Still The King, referring to Waylon Jennings song Bob Wills Is Still the King.


  1. ^ "Country singer Big Tom McBride has died aged 81". The Journal. 17 April 2018. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  2. ^ "The Royal Theatre, Castlebar, County Mayo, Ireland". Retrieved 23 December 2007.[dead link]
  3. ^ news : (Irish News) Archived 17 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine. The Irish World. Retrieved on 16 November 2011.
  4. ^ London Irish Festival – Music Acts[dead link]
  5. ^ – 2006/11/14: Big Tom recovering well after heart surgery Archived 13 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine, (14 November 2006); retrieved 16 November 2011.
  6. ^ The Mayo News – Big Tom takes ill. (1 April 2008). Retrieved on 16 November 2011.
  7. ^ Anderson, Nicola (25 September 2004). "Singer Big Tom among tax dodgers in €30m settlements". Irish Independent. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  8. ^ Murphy, Sandra (20 April 2018). "Stars join fans to bid farewell to 'a giant and a king' at Big Tom's funeral".
  9. ^ The Irish Charts – All there is to know Archived 1 February 2010 at WebCite. (1 October 1962). Retrieved on 16 November 2011.
  10. ^ Big Tom report in the Mayo News. Retrieved on 16 November 2011.
  11. ^ "Honours for two of Ireland's country music legends". RTÉ Entertainment. 20 June 2016.

External links[edit]