The Chieftains Leader Paddy Moloney Dead at 83

    Paddy Moloney, leader and co-founder of the pioneering traditional folk act the Chieftains, has died at the age of 83. The Irish Traditional Music Archive announced the news, writing that Moloney “made an enormous contribution to Irish traditional music, song and dance … Few people can lay claim to having the level of impact Paddy Moloney had on the vibrancy of traditional music throughout the world. What a wonderful musical legacy he has left us.” No cause of death was disclosed.

    Born in Donnycarney, Dublin, Ireland, Paddy Moloney started playing the tin whistle at the age of six and the Uilleann pipes at the age of eight. He formed the Chieftans in 1962 alongside Sean Potts and Michael Tubridy, serving as the band’s leader and primary songwriter. The group signed to Island Records and would go on to release over 40 albums and earn multiple Grammy Awards. They collaborated with everyone from Luciano Pavarotti to Mick Jagger and contributed to a number of film soundtracks, including Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon and Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York. Their last studio LP, 2013’s Voice of Ages, was produced by T-Bone Burnett and featured collaborations with Bon Iver, the Decemberists, Pistol Annies, the Civil Wars, and more.

    “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,” Ireland President Michael Higgins said in a statement. “His legacy will remain with us in the music which he created and brought to the world.”

    The band also paid tribute to Moloney on Instagram, writing, “The Chieftains’ family mourns the loss of our Paddy Moloney. Paddy had so much more music to share and stories to tell. We were lucky we had him for as long as we did.”

    Konstantinos Pappis
    Konstantinos Pappis
    Konstantinos Pappis is a writer, journalist, and music editor at Our Culture. His work has also appeared in Pitchfork, GIGsoup, and other publications. He currently lives in Athens, Greece.

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