Toby Bourke is a singer songwriter who lives in Dublin in Ireland. Originally brought up in London, he was a key figure in London’s Irish rock scene for twenty years. He has recorded three albums, two in-studio and one live, and currently has a fourth in production. Blood Sweat and Tears was recorded live at The Swan in Stockwell, London in 1992. In 1996 he was signed by George Michael for his Aegean label. He recorded a duet with Michael called "Waltz Away Dreaming" in 1997. The song was a top 10 hit, but the Aegean label folded soon after. "Waltz Away Dreaming" was included on Bourke’s next album Room 21. The song was only ever released in the UK.

He continues to write and record from his base in Ireland where he lives with his wife and children. Toby Bourke is  planning a tour for later in 2017. 


"George's passing is a massive loss to us all. He was one of the most important artists of his generation and one of the best singer songwriters that I've ever heard. His song 'You Have Been Loved' is simply one of the most beautiful and heartfelt love songs. George had so many qualities that I admire in people. He was generous, kind, loyal and deeply progressive. He had every opportunity to hide away with the super rich who courted and feted him but again and again he chose to take the side of the poor. He was at the same time flawed and isolated and a shadow of sadness had followed him in the last 10 years or so. I'm so sorry he's died and I'm more sorry that he died alone. He of all people deserved to die in the arms of a loved one. His legacy will be the millions of hearts across the globe who have at some stage filled with joy at the sound of his voice. That's some legacy to leave"


Toby Bourke came to prominence as one of the main Irish folk rock performers on the UK circuit in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Whilst The Pogues led the way from their spiritual home at the Brixton Academy, just down the road another well known venue was being filled every week by an up and coming London Irish singer songwriter - Toby Bourke.


Such was the power of Toby's live performances that the Sheehan family, who owned the Swan, convinced Toby to record a live album of his original songs at the venue. The result was Toby's debut album 'Blood Sweat and Tears'. The album, released in 1992, received widespread critical acclaim and featured a host of great backing musicians including Andy MacKay from Roxy Music, Tony Kiley from The Blow Monkeys on Drums and Ade Cooke from the Moody Blues on Keys. The title song documented the struggle of Irish immigrants in the UK and quickly became a favourite on the Irish circuit. 

Shortly after the release of Blood Sweat & Tears, Toby went on tour with The Alarm and then again with their guitarist Dave Sharp as he launched his solo career with a 60 date Hard Travellin' Medicine Show. 

In late 1992 Toby moved to New York and was managed by the legendary Hilly Kristal, owner of CBGBs in the Bowery district of Manhattan. Toby continued to record and play to audiences in the USA where he built a reputation as an important live performer.


By spring 1995 Toby had been approached by associates of pop legend George Michael about signing to his new record label Aegean. Toby and George soon met up to discuss this idea and shortly afterwards they concluded a deal which saw Toby becoming the first act signed up to the new label. 

In early 1997, Lesley Panayiotou, George's mum, tragically died of cancer. Attempting to deal with his huge grief in a creative manner, George decided not only to release Toby's song 'Waltz Away Dreaming' as the first song off the new label but also to add a verse of his own, in an attempt to give voice to the grief of his family and particularly his bereaved father. The song was released as a duet between George and Toby in June 1997 and entered the Top 10 in the UK charts.

Whilst the song was a commercial success, the record label was not. George's strong and admirable desire to allow artists the freedom to come and go meant that no distributor would work with his label since they had no control over whether the artists they supported would stay at the label. Aegean folded.

Toby decided at this point to go back into the studio and record the album anyway. Over the next year Toby recorded the basis of what would become his second album 'Home Thoughts From Abroad'. 

Before Toby could release the album two events happened that would change Toby's life forever. In 1999 Toby's mother Maureen became critically ill and Toby spent the next year at her bed side in hospital. Maureen Bourke died in April 2000. 

Just as Toby was coming back some time after this he had a near fatal accident whilst pushing his car out of the mud near his hoem in West Clare Ireland. Toby inadvertently pushed his hand through the head light of his car and slashed his wrist badly, completely severing all tendons, arteries and muscles. Toby and his wife had to walk for over a mile before they found help. Whilst he survived this massive accident, he was told by his surgeon that he would never play a musical instrument again. 

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Unable to play a guitar and write and perform songs, Toby pursued the other big driving force in his life and soon became a director of the peace and environmental pressure group, Greenpeace and traveled the world for several years campaigning for environmental justice. 

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You can't keep a good man down though. It took the best part of a decade, against all the odds and despite having little or no feeling in his fretting hand, slowly Toby found a way to play the guitar again through re - tuning the guitar and adapting his playing technique. It didn't happen overnight but it did happen and now Toby is back doing what he does best.

In November 2016 Toby returned to the studio for the first time in a decade to record new material. Recorded at London's Umbrella Rooms Studios, 'The Umbrella Sessions' will be released soon and you can already buy 2 tracks from that session online.