Ireland’s Eurovision 1990 singer Liam Reilly has passed away at the age of 65. His family says that he died peacefully at his home on Friday night.
Liam Reilly was born on 29 January 1955 in Dundalk. The Irish public first came to know him when he, alongside Wally McConville, Ken Doyle and John O’Brien, formed the legendary band Bagatelle in 1978. They had several hits throughout the 70s and well into the 80s. But their biggest hit was “Summer in Dublin” which became a radio mainstay from its release in 1980, and set a standard for Irish bands for years to come. U2’s frontman Bono has cited Bagatelle as a major influence on U2 at the start of their career.
In the mid 80s, Liam embarked on a solo career, and left Ireland behind for the beauty and charm of Savannah, Georgia in USA. There he really started to focus on his compositions, emphasising his vocals and the keyboard. He released his first US solo album named “Savannah Serenade”, which consisted mainly of his own work.
In 1988 his homeland called and Liam entered the Irish national final for Eurovision Song Contest with his song “Lifeline”, ultimately losing out to the band Jump The Gun, who went on to represent Ireland on home soil with “Take Him Home”.
However, the opportunity to represent his country in Eurovision Song Contest came again in 1990 and Liam set sail for Zagreb in the then Yugoslavia with his song “Somewhere in Europe” — a piano ballad with an Elton John sound. He wowed juries across the continent, and secured Ireland a respectable second place, becoming one of Eurovision’s most memorable contestants from 1990.
He wasn’t quite done with Eurovision though, and travelled to Rome the following year as the composer and lyricist behind Ireland’s 1991 entry “Could It Be That I’m in Love”, performed by the singer Kim Jackson, who had previously accompanied him as one of his backing vocalists in Zagreb. The song didn’t do quite as well as “Somewhere in Europe”. It reached 10th place.
During his long and successful career, Liam secured his place as one of Ireland’s most beloved and popular entertainers, both as a composer and performer.
In a statement sent out last night, his family acknowledged how important Reilly was to the Irish music scene and to Eurovision history.
“We know that his many friends and countless fans around the world will share in our grief as we mourn his loss, but celebrate the extraordinary talent of the man whose songs meant so much to so many.”
Our deepest condolences go out to Liam Reilly’s family, friends, co-workers and fans around the world.