The family of Country Music legend Gene Stuart, who passed away in February, are fulfilling his dying wish by releasing a poignant film of his final recordings.
The 72-year-old produced and shot the video footage himself in the last months of his battle with cancer as his parting gift to his loyal legion of fans.
Now his widow Briege is hoping that the anticipated musical treasure, due to be released at the end of October, will be Gene’s swansong.
Briege, who spent more than forty blissful years with the leading showband singer, said that editing and producing the DVD, filmed when Gene’s health was dwindling, was a difficult, painful task.
She had to pull on every ounce of her emotional strength to see it through.
“My sons Colin and Barry, who did most of the editing, wanted me to check through the DVD and ensure that I was happy with it. I really had to brace myself, but it was Gene’s wish to have this released for his loyal fans and I wanted to honour that.”
Briege recalls how weak Gene was at the time of the recordings, and how he valiantly struggled to finish the project.
“He wasn’t well and hardly fit to dress himself, but he insisted on travelling to these locations he had picked around Tyrone, even in bad weather, and perform his songs. Afterwards he was so exhausted he would go straight to bed.
“He was so determined to finish this himself. It was his labour of love.”
The DVD, which will be titled The Corner of My Life, shows Gene singing his most famous tracks such as A Fool Never Leaves, Farewell Marie, A Heartful of Memories, Heaven Country Style, and My Reason for Living.
Gene was well-known across Ireland, having sung with leading showband The Mighty Avons, which he joined in 1969, as well as The Homesteaders.
The father of three released twenty successful albums including one recorded in Nashville, and many singles including an Irish top ten hit.
An active parishioner, he would regularly do the readings at his local church and perform concerts to raise money for his local community.