The death has occurred of the fiddle player, Pat Collins, who worked chiefly in the rock and jazz fields through a distinguished five-decade music career.

The musician died at home yesterday (Tuesday) and is survived by his wife Maria, his three daughters and his grandson.

Collins first came to prominence with the trad-rock band Mushroom in the early 1970s. Aonghus McAnally, guitarist with that band, has fondly recalled the musician on Twitter.

Thereafter the related gypsy jazz / Hot Club de France genre became Collins' particular forte, notably with the Phantom Orchestra, where he lit up the room with fluid extemporising on a melody, a style associated particularly with the late Stephane Grappelli. 

Collins was later a leading light in the band Hotfoot, where his cohorts in the mid-1980s included lead guitarist Jimmy Faulkner, rhythm guitarist Jimmy Gibson, pianist Dave McHale, drummer Robbie Brennan, and bassist Declan McNeilis, all of whom predeceased the fiddle and viola player.

He encouraged younger fiddle players and was a great mentor to beginners as they struggled with scales and all that goes with the learning. Colm McCaughey, fiddle-player with the bands Interference and Hank Halfhead and the Rambling Turkeys, credits Collins with early encouragement and assistance.

Unstinting with his talent, the genial musician guested with many Irish bands, and occasionally with Scullion to whose gigs he brought an irrepressible, blissful spirit in the 1980s.

"Pat was a real inspiration, " tweeted Steve Wickham, fiddle player with The Waterboys. "I first saw him play with Mushroom in '74. Pat was electric and a real trailblazer. Generous to us who wanted to see how he did what he did." Collins founded the Café Orchestra in 1993, the year which also saw the release of his solo album project, Camillus - An Irish Concerto, which he recorded with Jump the Gun's Peter Eades.