THE Professional Darts Corporation is deeply saddened to announce that five-time World Champion Eric Bristow MBE passed away on Thursday evening following a heart attack.
Arguably the sport’s first superstar player, Bristow, 60, was World Champion five times between 1980-1986 and also won five World Masters titles during an outstanding career.
Bristow was one of the founder players when the PDC (then World Darts Council) was formed in 1993 as the sport's leading stars broke away from the British Darts Organisation.
The 60-year-old was inducted into the PDC Hall of Fame in 2005 alongside great rival John Lowe, and since retiring from competition at the end of 2007 remained a popular figure on the exhibition circuit.
Bristow also worked as a TV pundit and spotter for Sky Sports, was awarded the MBE for his services to sport in 1989 and appeared on ITV's "I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here" in 2012.
Born in east London on April 25 1957, Bristow later relocated to Staffordshire where he proved instrumental in the development of the Phil Taylor as a sponsor and mentor during the early stages of the eventual 16-time World Champion's career.
Taylor went on to defeat Bristow in the 1990 World Championship final, while a 6-0 defeat to Dennis Priestley the following year proved to be his last appearance in a televised final. His final World Championship, in 2000, was his 23rd of an illustrious career which saw him win over 70 professional titles in total.
In 1989, he married Jane Bristow with whom he had two children, Louise in 1991 and James in 1993.
Bristow’s subsequent battle against dartitis was overcome briefly when he reached the semi-finals of the 1997 PDC World Championship, and after making intermittent appearances on the circuit in the following years he competed for a final time on the PDC circuit in 2007.
PDC Chairman Barry Hearn led the tributes to Bristow, stating: “Eric will always be a legend in the world of darts and British sport. He was a tremendous player and a huge character and even after his retirement fans would travel for miles to meet him and see him play.
“Eric was never afraid of controversy, but he spoke as he found and was honest and straightforward which is what people admired about him. The PDC, and the sport of darts, will miss him.”
Eric Bristow in 2004
Eric Bristow & John Lowe being inducted into the PDC Hall of Fame in 2005
Keith Deller on Twitter
It’s a very sad day my great pal Eric Bristow has sadly passed away. I will cherish the great memories and laughs we have had together over the last 30 Years. If it wasn’t for Eric our sport would not be what it is today, he leaves a great legacy. RIP my friend. pic.twitter.com/syB0ItISex— Keith Deller (@KDeller138) April 5, 2018
Raymond van Barneveld on Twitter
Eric Bristow died tonight.... I am lost for words and really devastated !! He was darts he meant so much to me, cannot believe it !! My thoughts go out to his wife and family. pic.twitter.com/AbMaPEN1sk— Raymond v Barneveld (@Raybar180) April 5, 2018
John Lowe on Twitter
I didn’t want to share this message, Eric has passed away, my rival, my friend, my drinking Pal, lost a part of my life tonight. Thanks for being Eric. Goodbye my good friend.— john lowe (@jloweprodart) April 5, 2018
Former PDC Tournament Director Tommy Cox on Twitter
I cannot believe that my old friend Eric Bristow passed away tonight. He was instrumental in making darts popular and the 5 World Champs he won set the standard. I played him in North Shields when he was 17 years old and have been a friend ever since RIP Eric, never be forgotten— Tommy Cox (@TommyCox_PDC) April 5, 2018
Bob Anderson on Twitter
We can't contain our tears...he was our best man and a lovely friend...RIP Eric...darts won't be the same without you. Well said and very brave @KDeller138 , we will all miss #EricBristowRIP with heavy hearts. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/GQhbV8IPP8— BOB ANDERSON 180 (@BobAnderson180) April 5, 2018
Michael van Gerwen on Twitter
Rob Cross on Twitter
Such sad news losing a proper legend like Eric Bristow.— Rob Cross (@RobCross180) April 5, 2018
The sport of darts owes him everything, he made it the huge success it is today.
He was the first superstar of darts, an amazing player but also a massive character.
One of my biggest inspirations.
He’ll be sorely missed. pic.twitter.com/MUZ1h9YhYV
Paul Nicholson on Twitter
You lived your life the way you wanted, and you didn’t change for anyone. I admired that.— Paul Nicholson (@TheAsset180) April 5, 2018
Your love for the game of darts will always be my lasting memory of you. A game you owned and a game you changed forever. #RIPEricBristow ?
Steve Beaton on Twitter