Lives Remembered

Tim Murray: Son of singing sensation who found his own voice in a life filled with music

Tim Murray always enjoyed trips back to his mother Ruby's native Belfast

TO grow up with a famous parent means inevitably to live to some extent in their shadow.

When Tim Murray was a child his mother was among the most celebrated names in the entertainment world.

Belfast-born Ruby Murray enchanted millions in the 1950s with songs such as Softly, Softly and enjoyed unprecedented chart success.

Ruby Murray made chart history in 1955 by having five hits in the top 20 at the same time

But while her son would inherit some of her extraordinary musical talent, he would have to search for a distinctive voice of his own.

He enjoyed his own time in the spotlight on reaching the grand final of the TV talent show New Faces in 1988.

He sang cabaret for many years and performed tribute shows to his mother, but also wrote his own music and worked as a voice coach and producer across England and in Europe.

In recent years he had explored more of Ruby's Irish roots, working closely with the writer of a play about her life and proudly unveiling a blue plaque near her childhood home on Donegall Road.

Tim was in Belfast that day with his sister Julie, Ruby's only two children from her first marriage to English singer Bernie Burgess.

Tim and Julie Murray unveil a blue plaque in memory of their mother on the Donegall Road where she grew up. Picture by Hugh Russell

He grew up in Northamptonshire, in a childhood where his mother was frequently away from home as she continued to tour.

Despite this, Tim always remained close to Ruby and protective of her, living near her in the Torbay area on England's south coast and helping care for her before her death aged 61 in 1996.

Singer Ruby Murray with her lucky panda mascot as she packs at her London home for her first trip to the United States

Julie said he was a talented musician with his own unique voice although he was not widely recognised as he did not release his own work.

"He was one of a kind. If you met him you never forgot him," she said.

"He was just a very giving, kind, caring, warm and loving person."

She also recalled his joy during visits to to Belfast, where he formed a close friendship with civil servant turned writer Michael Cameron as he researched what would what would become the sell-out play Ruby at Belfast's Lyric Theatre.

"We hit it off from the word go," Mr Cameron said.

Tim Murray with Michael Cameron who wrote the play Ruby about his mother's life

"Although I had initially wanted to chat to him about his mum, we found we had many life experiences in common as men. He came over and stayed with us and he was very gracious and kind.

"A lot of the content in Ruby is emotional and that's down to him. The last conversation I had with him was about more plans for the play and other projects.

"He was very passionate about Ruby being remembered in her home town, I think that meant so much to him."

Although he never married or had children, in recent years Tim had found love with his partner Magda and enjoyed fishing, riding his motorbike and walking their dogs.

Earlier this year he fulfilled an ambition by riding across Europe to Lanzarote, where he remained during the coronavirus lockdown.

He had only recently returned home when a recurring heart problem caused his sudden death aged 55.

Mr Cameron said he was "numbed" by the news and would miss the many laughs they shared.

"For me the sadness was that he was just coming to a point in life where things were starting to fall into place for him," he said.

"Love to Magda and Julie, Bernie and the family circle from me and everyone in the ‘Ruby’ family."

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