The Irish singing group and stage sensation Celtic Thunder was deeply saddened to announce the loss of principal singer George Donaldson, who passed away Wednesday, March 12 at his home in Glasgow, Scotland.
The cause of death was a massive heart attack.
Born February 1, 1968 in Glasgow, Scotland, Donaldson was 46 years old. His wife, Carolyn, and his daughter, Sarah, 13, who he described as the “light of my life,” survive him.
George Donaldson was a self-taught musician, accomplished on both guitar and flute, with a lifelong passion for Celtic music inspired by his late father Bernard. One of George’s greatest thrills was performing for his Dad – and 65,000 other fans – at Glasgow Celtic's opening match of the 2000 season at Celtic Park in Glasgow.
Donaldson joined Celtic Thunder in 2007 after auditioning for the show’s producer Sharon Browne and was invaluable in helping to establish the show’s trademark celebration of Irish and Scottish heritage.
Known in Celtic Thunder as the “steadfast” one, Donaldson carried the distinction of being the sole Scotsman in the show, as well as the only married family man of the group. He appeared in all nine Celtic Thunder concert specials and on all of the show’s CDs and DVDs released to date, the most recent being last year’s "Mythology."
A hugely successful touring act, Donaldson and Celtic Thunder performed to rapturous audiences around the world, with highlights including St. Patrick’s Day parades in Chicago, Boston, and New York City, as well as President and Mrs. Obama’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration at the White House.
In addition to his beloved work with Celtic Thunder, Donaldson was a well-established artist in his own right, acclaimed as one of the finest singer/songwriters in the ever-vibrant Glasgow folk scene. He won the Irish Music Awards in both 2011 and 2012. His first solo CD, entitled "The White Rose," was released to critical acclaim in 2011, as was last year’s follow-up, "The World In My Mind."
Recent tweets from Donaldson mentioned his upcoming St. Patrick's Day performance at Jinty's Bar in Glasgow, and his joy in watching the Harry Potter movies with his daughter, Sarah.
Harry Potter night tonight again with Sarah. There's nothing like it………. The movies are ok.
— george donaldson (@GDonaldsonCT) March 12, 2014
Another great night in Jinty's. I'm looking forward to singing there on ST Patricks Day, my first time for six years.
— george donaldson (@GDonaldsonCT) March 10, 2014
Celtic Thunder request that their fans respect the family’s devastation and privacy at this time and restrict their comments and messages for the family to the website here. Comments from his Celtic Thunder family as they mourn their great loss appear below.
"When starting Celtic Thunder, I wanted to cast a mature, dependable Man as one of the characters. Over the 7 years since, I learned that George Donaldson was the embodiment of such a Man.
A kind, loving, gentle giant, George was as affectionate as he was professional. A pleasure to work with, an amazing family man to his wife Carolyn and his daughter Sarah, an important and loved friend to myself and everyone in Celtic Thunder.
I am devastated at his sudden and untimely death. Rest in Peace with your parents George, you will be sorely missed. Sharon x"
– Sharon Browne
"Today I lost a colleague, a Celtic Thunder original brother, but, more importantly, I lost a very good friend. From the first day I met him at the audition for Celtic Thunder in 2007, we became "thick as thieves" and shared so many great times together - on and off the stage. I know he's looking down now on the two most important people in his life - Carolyn and Sarah - and on the rest of us holding them up for him, with his guitar strapped around his neck and a pint in his hand with that big smile of his. As he always sang Phil's words, in his own inimitable way: "though he may be gone, memories linger on, and I'll miss him... My Old "Bro"... Rest in peace Big Man. Those of us in what you deemed "Celtic Thunderland" will miss you more than you'll ever know... Ryan xx"