Chieftains Member Derek Bell Dies

Chieftains harpist Derek Bell died this week in Phoenix at the age of 66. The Irish band’s publicist made the announcement Thursday (Oct. 17) but said the exact cause and time of death is unknown. Although the Chieftains’ tour ended following a Sept. 30 concert at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, Bell remained in the U.S. for minor surgery and a routine physical exam. The Ryman concert was taped for a television special highlighting the band’s latest album, Down the Old Plank Road: The Nashville Sessions. The album and concert featured appearances by Martina McBride, Alison Krauss, Ricky Skaggs, Earl Scruggs and others. The Chieftains won six Grammy awards after Bell joined the band in 1972. In 2000, Queen Elizabeth awarded Bell an MBE (Member of the British Empire) for his contributions to traditional Irish and classical music. In a joint statement, the surviving Chieftains said, “His passing will leave a silence that will never be filled. Anyone who has had the honor of meeting Derek will know that the world will be a much less interesting place without him. We will all miss him terribly.” 10/17/02