- 27 Jan 23
Hot Press is saddened to learn of the death early this morning of Wally Page, the veteran Dublin musician who in addition to his solo endeavours wrote extensively down through the years with Christy Moore. The fruits of their labours included such instantly recognisable numbers as 'Johnny Connors' and 'Wise And Holy Woman'.
Christy also recorded his own versions of Wally's 'Smoke And Strong Whiskey', 'Soldier Boys', 'Biko Drum', 'All For The Roses' and 'So Do I', a line from which provided his 2001 This Is The Day album with its title.
More recently, Christy was looking for a title for his latest album, released towards the tail end of 2021. A lightbulb went on. He remembered a phrase from a song by Wally that he had recorded for the album, which raise the beautiful notion of "flying into mystery." He decided it was a perfect title for the album – as long as Wally was willing to have the name of the song 'Sixteen Jolly Ravers' changed as well. Christy phoned Wally – who had no hesitation. What had been 'Sixteen Jolly Ravers' – released by Wally on There Are No Rules in 1996 – was renamed as 'Flying Into Mystery', which was also used as the title of the album. The record was subsequently voted the Hot Press Folk Album of the Year 2021.
Wally Page passed away at two o'clock this morning following a short illness. Up till the recently he'd been gigging extensively both at home and abroad and collaborating with another old friend, Johnny Mulhern.
An instinctive player who loved country, calypso, eastern music, rock and trad equally, Wally was leader during the 1980s of critically-acclaimed Cajun outfit The Big Mistake, who played sell-out gigs in Dublin's Bad Bob's and the London Mean Fiddler; further enhanced his reputation in 1996 with the release of debut solo album, There Are No Rules; and in 2002 partnered Johnny Mulhern on the brilliant Gone In The Head.
He penned a gorgeous tribute to Kurt Cobain, 'Song For KC'; and performed another to Rory Gallagher, with Tony Boylan, 'Rory G In D'; and also had his songs recorded by another musical admirer, Eleanor Shanley.
"He was such a wonderful presence to encounter, always fun and encouraging," says former Lir man Colm Quearney. "He’s left us with such a rich repertoire of songs to enjoy. I was so happy when he invited me to play on his song 'Chet Baker'. God speed friend, you will be sorely missed."
"We've just lost one of our finest wordsmiths," adds Conor Byrne while Dr. Seán Millar adds: "Very sad news. As well as being one of the greats of Irish song Wally was always kind and generous to me."
Sharon Shannon messaged, "I'm so so sorry to hear this terribly sad news. A huge loss. Loved him and his music big time", and then promptly paid tribute on Saturday night to Wally and Seamus Begley at her gig in the Wexford National Opera House. Among those joining her on stage were fellow Wally and Seamus fans Frances Black and Mary Coughlan.
"Wally was a real gem, a great songwriter and troubadour musician," says former bandmate RL Rainwater. "I played many a gig with him in the Big Mistake band back in '90. Great times on stage and when I stayed at your house after those long road gigs getting back to Dublin in the wee hours of the morning... fantastic memories. He'll be deeply missed here Stateside. Rest easy my friend."
The official death notice reads: "Page, Wally. Late of North Strand. January 27th, 2023. Peacefully, at the Mater Hospital surrounded by his loving family. Sadly missed by his sons Luke and Daniel, daughter in law Gosia, grandchildren Eithne and Ruadhán, extended family and a large circle of friends.
"A funeral service will be held for Wally at Dardistown Crematorium at 3 o’clock on Tuesday 31st January. For those who also wish to view Wally’s cremation service at 3 o’clock you can do so by clicking on the following link: https://www.dctrust.ie/location/dardistown/dardistown-chapel-webstreaming.html
"To those who would have liked to attend the funeral, but cannot, please leave your condolences at the bottom of this page or send on your condolences by the traditional manner."
Scroll down after the video for more heartfelt tributes to Wally Page.