WIRRAL folk star Bob Buckle - known to thousands as The Mersey Minstrel - has died, his family has confirmed.

The Hoylake-based entertainer had been in the music business for more than 50 years and passed away, aged 80 last Tuesday (February 6).

His funeral will take place at Our Lady of pity in Greasby on March 5 at 10am. Donations can be made to the Age UK Bridge It campaign.

A statement from his family read: "We are heartbroken at the death of our father, who was an incredible musician, a warm and funny human being and the best father you could have.

"Through music he touched many lives of so many people, and we thank everyone for the overwhelming number of tributes and well wishes we have received."

Bob, who was born in Yorkshire, had qualified as a watch and clock maker before setting off on the road to music fame.

His first concert was in November 1965, after which he toured extensively in Britain, Europe and America making appearances on radio and television that run into thousands and has recorded 23 albums.

Bob started Wirral's first folk club in 1961, with singing partner Pete Douglas when they were known as 'The Leesiders’.

Wirral Globe: The Leesiders with 1960s singer Helen ShapiroThe Leesiders with 1960s singer Helen Shapiro (Image: courtesy of Bob Buckle's family)He loved to bring folk music to young children and, until his retirement, visited around 150 schools each year in addition to his other entertainment activities.

Bob also owned and ran a 24-track recording studio producing albums for himself and other artists.

He has produced work for media outlets including the BBC and independent radio and has his own recording label, Bob Buckle Sound.

In recent years, alongside his love of folk music, Bob's main hobby was researching American Western history and sharing his insight into the truth behind some of the most famous and fascinating Wild West tales.

Looking back on career highlights in an interview with the Globe in 2015 for his 50th anniversary tour, Bob said: "I'm a folk singer and love singing and have made a great living out of something that I enjoy doing.

"I’ve played at nearly every concert hall in the country and in front of 15,000 people in Germany.

"But introducing people to folk music has been a real highlight."

Wirral Globe: Bob Buckle at his home in Hoylake during interview with the Globe in 2015Bob Buckle at his home in Hoylake during interview with the Globe in 2015 (Image: Craig Manning / Newsquest)

Bob was born in Mexborough, Yorkshire in 1943 and was two years old when he moved to Wirral with his parents, where he lived most of his life.  

After playing the piano from an early age he joined a rock and roll band as lead singer and rhythm guitarist when he was just 14.

He was then given an album of folksongs by the late Hollywood actor Burl Ives called Poor Wayfaring Stranger, a recording which changed his life.

A year later he heard American folk singer and social activist Pete Seeger perform and decided he must have a banjo. The five-string banjo and six-string guitar, along with folk songs were his constant companions ever after.

In 1962, Bob formed an amateur folk group called The Leesiders with Peter Hayes, Joan Davis and Pete Douglas.

The Leesiders opened what is thought to be Wirral’s first folk club in 1963.

Later, Peter Hayes and Joan Davis left the group and Pete Douglas and Bob, still under the name The Leesiders, turned professional in 1965.

They played the venues around Wirral and Liverpool including the Floral Pavilion, Playhouse and St George's Hall and did many national and European tours.

Wirral Globe: Bob Buckle pictured at Red Rocks in Hoylake in 2012Bob Buckle pictured at Red Rocks in Hoylake in 2012 (Image: courtesy of Bob Buckle's family)

The Leesiders appeared in over four hundred television and radio broadcasts.

They were regular contributors to BBC radio shows such as "Night Ride", broadcast from the Manchester Oxford Road studios.

By 1970, the Leesiders were recording for Birmingham based Ash Records and selling many albums on their travels.

After ten "wonderful years" with the Leesiders Bob sent solo and continued his career as a professional musician.

In 1966 he had made his first recording with Pete Douglas when they sang together as The Leesiders.

Since that first track on an album called 'Folk Scene' Bob went on to record a further 223 tracks on 23 albums.

In 1974, Radio City established a dedicated folk music show that Bob presented at 9pm after the news for over two years.

Alongside this, over the years, Bob's folk clubs across the Wirral became traditions in their own right with a consistent aura of cosiness.

Bob believed it is important that traditional folk music is kept alive and did not just perform songs but researched them meticulously, using music as a medium to preserve our culture in his recordings. 

Two dual themes were being passionately anti-war and recording songs about the local area, including more the well-known such as The Leaving of Liverpool well as less well known such as Seth Davey, set in Bromborough, and Joseph Baker, which was about Helsby Hill and surrounding area. He also released a single called Mist Over The Mersey, written by Jack Owens.

Bob’s sound was described as "accessible" and his concerts were popular.  

While working on a children's show at Pebble Mill in Birmingham in the 1970s Bob first attracted youngsters to his music.

Bob found that he loved to bring folk music to young children, and, until his retirement, visited around 150 schools each year in addition to his other entertainment activities.

During his interview with the Globe in 2015, Bob recalled: "I’ve taught about 500 people to play guitar.

"I've been to over 3,000 schools and get emails from people in their 40s, who say they learned from me when I visited their school and have since taken up guitar.

"It's lovely to know that I have had some influence on their interest in music.

"A fitting legacy.”

Bob leaves behind daughters Clare and Jane, and wife, Moya.

Our thoughts are with Bob's family at this time.