29 Sept 2022

Tributes to 'rock star' from Tipperary who was a well-known and widely loved figure

Amazing man!

Tipperary Tipperary Tipperary

The late Anthony ‘AK’ Kennedy, Clonmel and Dublin

Tributes have been paid to a Clonmel musician who has been described as the “quintessential rock star”.

Anthony “AK” Kennedy, who died on Thursday, March 3, 2022, was a brilliant singer and instrumentalist who played with some of the top bands of the 1980s.

He was also a natural music teacher, passing on his love of music to enthralled students.

His funeral Mass in Ss Peter and Paul’s Church, Clonmel was told that to many his world was “music, music, music”, but to his family he was also a “gentle rebel, a free spirit, who did things his own way”.

Family and friends mourn his loss. He was adoring father to Emi, now living in the UK with her mother Eki, and a loving brother to his siblings Lena, Grainne, Gerry, Brendan and Paschal.

AK was born in Clonmel in 1952, the son of Sonny and Ann Kennedy.

He attended school in the Sisters of Charity, Ss Peter and Paul’s NS and the High School before studying in UCD where he did an Arts Degree and HDip, graduating as a secondary school teacher in French, Maths and Irish.

He taught in his home town for a short while in the 1980s but never had a huge interest in teaching Irish and Maths – however he did love to teach music and taught for many years in a number of schools and special projects around Dublin where his knowledge of the subject, unique teaching style and fun approach were loved by the students, parents and school managements.

His own musical talents saw him forge a career on the Dublin rock scene and his band, Sacre Bleu, were often spoken about alongside The Boomtown Rats and U2.

In a tribute to AK in the iconic music magazine, Hot Press, it was said that the band Sacre Bleu were considered real contenders on the Irish scene in the late 1970s and were seen by many as the logical heirs to the mantle of the Boomtown Rats.

At one stage they had U2 manager Paul McGuinness as their agent.

However, the band’s early promise never led to a major label deal and it split up in 1980. AK then went on to front other bands, including The Original Sins and Three Blind Mice.

In addition to his role as lead singer with Sacre Bleu, AK played harmonica and flute with the band, with the latter featuring prominently on the 1979 single, Broken Promises, which was very highly rated among rock music critics at the time.

Sacre Bleu released two singles and had looked destined for bigger things but they split up in 1980, leaving behind a feeling that they might have been huge.

Hot Press editor Niall Stokes has said there were lots of very talented musicians on the Dublin scene at the end of the 1970s and AK was one of them.

He added: “AK always looked like a rock star too, dressed in black from head to toe with the skinny jeans and long boots he was the quintessential rock star. He was a hugely well-known – and widely loved – figure around Dublin. He was highly intelligent, with his own very individual AK-take on the world. He will be greatly missed by the musical troupers from that era.”

AK’s siblings remember him always singing, humming and whistling around the house in his younger days, thinking he was Mick Jagger or Eric Clapton or both.

His friends remember him as a brilliant musician, knowledgeable and always good company, argumentative and opinionated but also a very kind, gentle soul, unique, talented and fun.

And while AK loved teaching music to his students, he was also a permanent student himself, all his life studying, reading and learning.

He learned to play the guitar, harmonica and concert flute and to write songs and music.

In recent years he took up Italian and listened to Italian soccer Serie A radio commentaries to improve and perfect his vocabulary and pronunciation.

He also took up Yoga a number of years ago and used his musical talents to play music on the flute each week for some of the other classes.

AK passed away unexpectedly on Thursday, March 3, and will be sadly missed by his loving daughter Emi and her mother Eki; his sisters Lena (Peters) and Grainne (Brennan); his brothers Gerry, Brendan and Paschal; sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, nephews, nieces, extended family and his many friends. Written by Michael Heverin

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