- 25 Dec 21
To cap off the year, Hot Press are looking back at some of our most read articles of 2021. This year we lost a pioneering sticksman on the Irish scene, Noel ‘Nollaig’ Bridgeman, who drummed with many of Ireland’s leading musical lights. Here are some of the many heartful tributes from those who knew and played with him. Originally published in March.
Moving tributes dedicated to the late Irish drummer Noel "Nollaig" Bridgeman have poured in today, following news of the former Skid Row member's passing.
The likes of Mike Scott from The Waterboys, BP Fallon, Frances Black, Joe Jackson, Pat Coldrick, Brian Kennedy and more have shared their condolences following Bridgeman's battle with cancer.
Having emerged during the Irish beat boom of the 1960s, Noel went on to become one of the greatest ever Irish drummers, a legend in his own studio time. During the late 1960s, he was a member of Skid Row, holding down the rhythm alongside Brush Shiels on bass – in a band that also for a time featured Philip Lynott on lead vocals and Gary Moore on guitar. Noel had a long and industrious career, working with many of the leading lights of modern Irish music, operating both as a studio session hand and a live maestro, including alongside Mary Black, Christy Moore, Brush Shiels and The Waterboys.
Jackson Browne, Sharon Shannon, Steve Earle, Van Morrison, Mick Hanley, Donal Lunny, The Corrs, The Chieftains and Paul Brady were also known to have recorded with the talented musician.
God bless Noel Bridgeman - not only a great drummer but a beautiful man. From Skid Row and Granny’s Intentions to Waterboys to playing on my next album... the road goes on forever. Noel, thank you for the joy you brought, thank you for the miles of smiles. I send you love. BP x
— BP Fallon (@bpfallon) March 23, 2021
I am so sorry to hear that the great drummer & singer #NoelBridgeman has passed away.I will never forget the first time I heard Noel sing ‘Across the Universe’ it was mind blowing!my deepest condolences to his family & all who loved him 🌻#sleepwellNoel https://t.co/jHY0XVE1cc
— Frances Black (@frances_black) March 23, 2021
"I'm very sorry to say the drummer Noel Bridgeman, one of Dublin's greatest-ever musicians, and a great Waterboy, passed away this morning after a short battle with cancer," Mike Scott tweeted.
"He taught me so much. A pioneer, a gentleman and a great spirit. Travel on well, my friend."
Wow. I’m also so sorry to hear that. I particularly remember him singing and playing a wonderful version of “
across the universe” a great loss. #noelbridgeman https://t.co/DxSumFSsGe
— Dr BRIAN KENNEDY (@KennedySinger) March 23, 2021
"Today I lost my best friend Noel Bridgeman after a short illness, I will always miss you. Rest in peace my friend," Irish singer and guitarist Brendan Finglas wrote on Facebook today.
"It is very sad news,” Mary Stokes of The Mary Stokes Blues Band said. "We worked with Noel quite a bit over the years, and our harmonica maestro Brian Palm was close to him. They were good buddies. Noel was a genuinely brilliant drummer. And he was a great singer too. He sang in a fantastic Creedence style, full-blooded and very warm. Fuck it. Noel will be hugely missed.”
Rest In Peace Noel Bridgeman great drummer! #noelbridgeman pic.twitter.com/xY6fQiSQDt
— Zamo Riffman (@ZamoRiffman) March 23, 2021
"Circa 1970 I was a fan of Skid Row," Presenter, journalist and podcaster Joe Jackson tweeted earlier today.
"In 1977 I became one of the first photographers working for Hot Press. I loved taking this shot of Noel Bridgeman, at the Baggot Inn. He has died. RIP Noel."
Irish virtuoso guitarist and composer Pat Coldrick tweeted:
"Just learned of the passing of a good friend and legendary musician Nollaig Bridgeman. A nicer man you wouldn't meet. Dedicating 'The Lament' in his memory today. May he rest in peace."
Just learned of the passing of a good friend and legendary musician Nollaig Bridgeman. A nicer man you wouldnt meet. Dedicating The Lament in his memory today, may he Rest in Peace🙏https://t.co/xQVOEreflt
— pat coldrick (@patcoldrick) March 23, 2021
“He was a brilliant musician,” Hot Press editor Niall Stokes said this afternoon. “And he was also a lovely guy. He was a real, genuine Dub, and a man who never lost touch with those roots. Noel was the embodiment of that line of John Lennon’s: ‘A working class hero is something to be’. He was that and more.
“Noel was a special player, even if he never flaunted it. He had that thing, which only great drummers enjoy, of being able to nail a groove in a way that gives everyone else who’s playing a platform to build on and a foil to work off. Noel could play anything, from soul and Motown through rock ’n’ roll and the blues to country music and Irish folk. I know that the sad news of his loss will have people searching through their collections to hear his great work again.
“As one of the original rock ’n’ roll gang who began the process of properly changing the template for musicians in Ireland, we owe Nollaig – and those he worked with – a huge debt. He was an inspiration for so many, through all the musical changes and adventures of the past 50 years. Noel will be sadly missed by everyone who worked with him on the scene. But his work and his music will live on."
Photo credit: BP Fallon (Skid Row from left to right: Noel Bridgeman, Gary Moore, Brush Shiels).