A local man who was known to be a legendary and much-loved musician has passed away at the age of 62.
Gary Maxwell, who prided himself on his East Belfast upbringing and who wrote songs about his local area, was one of the most respected singer-songwriters in the city.
Gary often performed at venues and locations throughout the city, including Molly Brown’s, the Empire Music Hall and Forestside Shopping Centre.
He was beloved for his guitar-playing and for his original songs such as ‘East Belfast Boy’, ‘Grew Up In A Place’, ‘Embrace’ and countless others.
The magazine Soul Matters described Gary’s music as “self-deprecating, often rather touching autobiographical songs” while giving praise to a romance song that he’d written about Belfast’s sectarian biography.
With news of his passing, musicians from Northern Ireland were quick to give praise to him.
Instrumental band String Ninjas wrote on Facebook: “We are absolutely devastated to learn of the sudden passing of our great friend Gary Maxwell. Gary was a much loved part of Belfast’s music scene. His frighteningly sharp sense of humour and witty one liners are legendary.
“His music enraptured every audience that heard it, brimming with heart and soul it touched you at your very core. He was a genuine gentleman that had so much time and love for everyone he met. Already his passing has sent shock waves through Belfast’s music scene which just goes to show how much of a loved individual he really was.
“Our thoughts and love go out to his family and friends during this difficult time.
“R.I.P GARY MAXWELL AKA THE KING OF EAST BELFAST.”
East Belfast MLA Rachel Woods said: “So sad to hear of the death of Gary Maxwell. Max was one of the finest and funniest people I ever met on the Tuesday music nights all those years ago. He kept me going every week and was always in touch since we stopped, and enjoyed listening to his fantastic music and one liners. A very proud East Belfastian. Thinking of your family and many friends.
“Rest easy Maxi you legend, you will be missed.”
Fellow Belfast musician Wilfie Gilbert also said: “Devastated to hear of the lost of another dear Friend of 30 +years Gary Maxwell. A man who left a mark on all who met him. A maverick, a gem and above of all in my humble opinion a great writer. Rest easy big man for you will go down in folklore history.”
While NI blues and folk singer Kaz Hawkins wrote: “I would like to send my deepest condolences from afar to the family of Gary Maxwell.
“Max, as he was known to anyone on the music scene back home, was the funniest, quirkiest wordsmith who wrote songs about life in East Belfast. His wit & humour on a guitar lit up any stage he performed. Max also had a massive heart & would praise anyone pushing themselves in music. You would hear him rooting for the young kids coming up the ranks & was just an utterly wonderful gentle man. I can’t believe he’s gone.”