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Tony Cuffe

Biography

Biography (Courtesy of the Artist's site, 2005).

Tony Cuffe was born in Greenock, Scotland on 6 April 1954 and died at Arlington, Massachusetts, USA on 18 December 2001.

Tony was one of five brothers, born in Greenock, where he attended primary and secondary schools before taking an arts degree in English. By the time Tony went to Glasgow University, he was listening to Scottish and English folk names such as Archie Fisher, Martin Carthy and Pentangle. He planned to teach and went to study for his diploma at Notre Dame teacher training college. But his love of music would intervene. Tony's father had arrived with his family in Port Glasgow from Roscommon at the age of seven, and remained a great singer of Irish songs.

Tony's oldest brother, Tom, was learning the Highland pipes, and that tradition was to make a huge impression on his guitar style. Tony's younger brother Laurie was also well know as a guitarist on the pop scene.

In 1977 Tony and Cath were married, and they had three children: Lindsey (1982), Christopher (1985), and Aidan (1996).

He came to the fore as a singer and guitarist within the flourishing Scottish traditional music scene of the 1970s and was co-founder of Alba, a pioneering band that made an album of that name in 1978.

A year later, he joined and recorded with Jock Tamson's Bairns which came out of Edinburgh's famous session bar Sandy Bell �s.

Tony became a member of Glasgow-based Ossian in 1980 and with them recorded four albums: Seal Song, Dove Across the Water, Borders and Light on a Distant Shore .

In 1988 he made his only solo album: When First I Went to Caledonia. With Ossian he toured Europe and North America, undertook considerable radio and television work, appeared with the influential 7:84 Theatre Company and contributed to the projects of Billy Kay, including his Fergusson�s Auld Reikie, and to Billy Jackson�s ensemble works The Wellpark Suite and St Mungo.

In 1989 Tony moved to Massachusetts and settled with his young family in Arlington, near Boston. While continuing to tour with Ossian and the group�s Billy Jackson, he became firmly established as a popular solo performer, adding harp, whistle and harmonica to his skills, and was recognised as a gifted and inspiring teacher of traditional music.

He performed regularly with the cream of Scottish and Irish musicians in the United States and worked extensively with the Windbags. Tony also taught at Boston College's Gaelic Roots Summer School and the Cambridge Center for Adult Education.

Subsequent recording projects included tracks on Gaelic Roots, Fred Freeman�s The Complete Songs of Robert Burns series, Bonnie Rideout�s A Scottish Christmas and Jerry O�Sullivan�s The Gift, a release featuring several of his compositions.

Tony had some back pain starting around March 2001. He was investigated and diagnosed as having cancer. He had surgery, then chemotherapy over most of that year. Tony and Cath had been planning to move back to Scotlandl.

He became very ill, but was cared for at home in Arlington. He died there on 18 December 2001, surrounded by all that he loved most in life: his family, friends and music.


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