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29 Jun 2022

Sad passing of popular and sometimes wild man of rock 'n' roll

Zany entertainer well-loved all over Donegal

Sad passing of popular and sometimes wild man of rock 'n' roll

Rock Stewart, (standing) as most remember him at their local dance hall

The flamboyant self-proclaimed wild man of rock 'n' roll has gone to the great gig in the sky.

Rock Stewart aka Willie Loughrey passed away on Sunday. He was once one of the biggest attractions at dance halls all over Donegal and his performances were nothing short of legendary.

Few would deny the outrageous appeal of Rock’s concerts, which have thrilled audiences for the best part of 20 plus years.

Inspired by renowned glam rock alter-egos such as Bowie's Ziggy Stardust and America’s shock rocker Alice Cooper, Rock was the brainchild of the Newtownstewart man during a spell as lead singer with the Plattermen in the late 70s.

Following a period of what he described as ‘Zany performances’, Willie devised a series of themes in the form of famous notorious characters such as Dracula, Frankenstein and Rasputin with costumes that could have been nicked straight from Hammer Studios.

He was perhaps most famous as a vampire and left little to the imagination including the costume, the blood and the coffin. He used to take great delight in making audiences run/ He later portrayed Rasputin the ‘Mad Monk’ and it worked just as well.

It was not all plain sailing though as Willie can recall with humour as on one occasion he was forced to fit into a coffin and carried onstage with his legs sticking out as those about him fell about laughing.

The individualism and popularity of Willies creations allowed him to be one of the few survivors of a period, which created many live performers, and bands who ultimately fell by the wayside as a result of changing trends and fashions.

So if you saw Rock at the Butt Hall, Ballybofey; Seaview, Bunbeg; St John Bosco's, Donegal Town; Astoria, Bundoran; St Dominic's Hall, Glenties; Fintra House, Killybegs; Frankie's Night Club/The Parting Glass, Raphoe; Milford Inn, Milford; The Marquee in Dungloe or the Golden Grill or the Fiesta, Letterkenny to name but a few venues, you will no doubt have a big smile on your face and fondly remember a unique performer today who had the ability and talent to entertain and the creativity to reinvent himself and entertain us all.

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