Jack Alexander of the Alexander Brothers, the Scottish musical duo highly popular with Northern Ireland audiences, has died.
The 77-year-old died peacefully on Saturday in an Ayrshire hospital. He had been in failing health in recent years.
Jack and his 79-year-old brother Tom started their professional career at Webster Theatre in Arbroath in 1958.
The pair, from Cambusnethan in North Lanarkshire, toured all over the world during a career spanning more than 50 years and were awarded MBEs for services to entertainment.
They were a big attraction with Scottish exiles in North America and Australia, singing songs like These Are My Mountains, The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen and The Road and the Miles to Dundee. They had a big chart hit with the country parody Nobody’s Child.
The brothers were both classically trained and played from a young age, with Jack on the piano and Tom on the accordion.
They developed their distinctive Scottish style after it was suggested they follow the style of popular acts like Andy Stewart and the Joe Gordon Folk Four.
Robbie Shepherd, BBC Radio Scotland presenter, said: “It is so sad to hear that Jack has died. As a pair they were the tops in Scottish variety theatre.”
Tom and Jack Alexander made many concert tours of Northern Ireland over the past 50 years, entertaining at many venues even at the height of the Troubles.
David Hull, of David Hull Promotions in Belfast, was the man who kept bringing them across for tours, and I also had the pleasure of getting to know them well when they were booked for shows that I had organised in various towns across the Province.
As a singing duo, they were top professionals, up there with other Scottish entertainers – the late Andy Stewart, Kenneth McKellar and Moira Anderson.
Their tartan-style repertoire was always a big attraction with Ulster audiences.
I first heard them at a New Year’s Eve show in the Northern Counties Hotel, Portrush, in 1970 and their rollicking, entertaining style, blended with popular Scottish balladry, stayed with me.
Tom and Jack, an inseparable pair, were big Glasgow Rangers fans.