Groove InnerviewsDuke Eatmon

Chris De Burgh has had a love affair from the very beginning of his career. He credits Montreal along with Brazil with making his career in the first place.

He says Montreal has always been there for him. This is the reason that he was forced to add another MTL date for his The Legend Of Robin Hood & Other Hits Tour, after the April 16th sold out immediately. De Burgh will perform the following night in his show that will feature his “songs, stories and hits”.

Ironically, de Burgh’s love affair with the city began when he first played here in 1975 when he opened for the red-hot Brit progressive pop band Supertramp at McGill University.

He was booed viciously by the local fans who had come to see their favourite band, not an awkward looking 26 year-old with only one album to his credit called Far Beyond These Castle Walls which was met with little fanfare in the industry.

“There were lots of whistles and boos and yells and shouts. I’m a persistent man which is why after nearly 50 years in the business, I’m still enjoying what I do and still have worldwide fans. Persistence is part of the thing. As a matter of fact, if anyone asks me about success, I say the first thing you have to do if you want to be successful is that you have to learn how to fail.”

He then fast-forwarded to only a year down the line in a leap of faith only possible in rock ‘n’ roll. “About 6 months or a year later, my second album Spanish Train And Other Sties came out. It became a monster hit in Quebec City and in Montreal. It wasn’t long after that I was playing The Forum. Two nights in The Forum, 17,000 people a night. For me it’s been a wonderful long love affair and it doesn’t seem to like it’s going to go out anytime soon.”

That album’s title track with its dreamy poppy folk-rock tale about a card game between God and the devil struck a chord with Quebecers who have long had a penchant for things progressive in rock and pop.

De Burgh would constantly play the city and the provincial capital ever since, headlining at venues that he named off to me like Theatre St. Denis and Place Des Arts as if he were born on “The Main”.

De Burgh, a Brit born in Argentina and raised in Nigeria, Congo and Ireland courtesy of his English diplomat father learned his craft when his parents finally purchased an old castle in County Wexford, Ireland and converted it into an inn where a young teenage Christopher was the evening entertainment for the weary lodgers.

“In the evenings back then, we didn’t have t.v. and of course we didn’t have the internet or anything like that. After dinner in the banqueting hall, people would then assemble in the sitting room, or the bar and young Christopher would pull out his guitar at age 15 or 16 and start singing Irish folk songs, Beatles songs and Bob Dylan songs. I found out early on that it was great way to meet girls”, he laughed.

“I didn’t meet any girls, but I got pretty good at what I did”.

As good as the rock legend did get, U.S. success long evaded him until his 1986 smash-hit The Lady In Red from his album Into The Light not only made him a star in America but around the world with the insanely romantic ballad topping the charts in Canada, Ireland, South Africa, Norway and Belgium with some of these markets never even hearing a peep about him beforehand.

“Most of my American fans didn’t know I had a career before The Lady In Red.”

“I was now playing football stadiums around Europe with my Canadian band, 4 lads from Toronto and my drummer from California. We played ”Rock Over Germany”. Germany is a huge country for me still, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and very important in my career. Across that weekend, on Friday, the headliner was Rod Stewart and Tina Turner opening. On Saturday the headliner was Prince and the Sunday headliner was me – Chris de Burgh. On the subsequent tour one of my opening acts was a little-known Irish band called U2”.

Not bad for a young Brit lad born in South America and raised in Africa and Europe who was booed the first time he played Canada! For tickets, please visit

Duke Eatmon’s music segments can be heard regularly on CBC Radio’s Let’s Go, hosted by Sabrina Marandola on 88.5 FM

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