Showbiz legend Sydney Devine tells of pain over death of son from sepsis

Sidney Devine opens his heart over his son's death. Picture: TSPL
Sidney Devine opens his heart over his son's death. Picture: TSPL
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Scottish showbiz legend Sydney Devine has revealed how he re-lives his son Gary’s tragic death from sepsis last year “more than daily”.

Gary Devine’s death in March 2018 came just as the crooner – one of Scotland’s most successful performers of all time with 66 years in show business behind him – was about to go on tour.

Devine, 79, said he was on the verge of pulling the plug on the shows when he realised Gary would have wanted him to go on.

He tells BBC Radio Scotland presenter Nicola Meighan in a programme to be broadcast next week: “I was going to cancel it, the tour, then I thought maybe I’d better not, because life goes on, and Gary wouldn’t have liked it any other way.

“It kills me. Everything helps, but nothing helps. People were phenomenal. I think about it every day, every morning, every night.

“That’s the only regret I ever have in my life, is losing my son, and not all the money in the world could save him or bring him back, there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

“Then when I did the shows afterwards, and I did that tour, people were phenomenal.

“But it was a sad time, a sad time for the whole family.”

Devine was with his son when he suffered multiple organ failure.

Mr Devine, a general manager at motor company Arnold Clark, had been admitted to Crosshouse Hospital in Kilmarnock days earlier with suspected food poisoning.

But it turned into sepsis, a type of blood poisoning when the body goes into overdrive fighting an infection and ends up attacking itself.

Devine had hoped for a miracle as he kept vigil for a week at the 58-year-old’s hospital bedside while medics battled in vain to save him.

He died in the intensive care unit surrounded by Devine, mother Shirley, and siblings Karen and Scot.

In 2003 Mr Devine had accompanied his father to Buckingham Palace to watch him be presented with his MBE.

Country and western idol Devine, from Cleland, Lanarkshire, rose to fame at just 13.

He made his big TV break when he toured with The White Heather Group, a variety show that ran until 1968.

Years later, on a visit to Hawaii with Andy Stewart’s band, Devine heard singer Don Ho perform Tiny Bubbles, the track that would catapult him to stardom.

After he recorded his own version, he went on to sell an estimated 15 million albums across the world.

In BBC Radio Scotland’s Somewhere Only We Know next week, Devine gives Meighan a tour of the restored Tivoli Theatre in Aberdeen, where he first appeared on stage and where he met wife Shirley, with whom he this year celebrates 58 years of marriage.

He recalled spotting Shirley in the front row, where he joked she “had a weekly booking”, then taking her out for a date the day after the White Heather Group’s last night at the Tivoli back in the day.

He said: “The very last night of the show, they had a party, and I don’t drink as a rule. Somebody gave me a vodka, something like that, and I had a date with her the very next day to take her to the pictures, and I felt so blooming ill. Anyway, we survived it.”

Somewhere Only We Know airs on BBC Radio Scotland on Wednesday at 1:30pm.