Paddy Moloney, leader of the pioneering Celtic band The Chieftans, has died at the age of 83.
In a sign of Moloney’s massive importance, especially in his native Ireland, news of his death was announced by the country’s president, Michael D Higgins. “The Irish music community, and indeed the much larger community throughout the world who found such inspiration in his work, will have learnt with great sadness today of the passing of Paddy Moloney, founder and leader of the Chieftains,” Higgins said in a statement released on Tuesday.
“Paddy, with his extraordinary skills as an instrumentalist, notably the uileann pipes and bodhrán, was at the forefront of the renaissance of interest in Irish music, bringing a greater appreciation of Irish music and culture internationally.”
A native of Dublin, Moloney began playing the tin whistle at the age of six and the Uilleann pipes at the age of eight. In 1962, he formed the Chieftans alongside Sean Potts and Michael Tubridy. As the band’s leader and primary songwriter, Moloney composed well over 40 albums and film soundtracks.
Credited with bringing traditional Irish music into the mainstream, Chieftans were the recipients of six Grammy Awards, including Best Traditional Folk Album on three separate occasions. Over the years, they collaborated with everyone from Stanley Kubrick (on the soundtrack to Barry Lyndon), to Luciano Pavarotti, to The Rolling Stones.
Their final album, 2012’s Voice of Ages, was produced by T-Bone Burnett and featured collaborations with Bon Iver, Paolo Nutini and The Decemberists.