Phil Taylor felt “the world has lost a legend” following the death of five-time world champion Eric Bristow at the age of 60.
Bristow suffered a heart attack after attending a corporate event in Liverpool ahead of Thursday’s Premier League fixture at the Echo Arena.
The Professional Darts Corporation announced his death midway through the night’s play, with fans breaking into a spontaneous rendition of “There’s only one Eric Bristow”. Rod Studd stopped commentating out of respect.
Bristow acted as a mentor for Taylor, who beat the ‘Crafty Cockney’ to win his first world crown in 1990 before going on to become the greatest player in the game.
‘The Power’ took to Twitter on Friday morning to pay his own tribute to the man who was the biggest name in darts throughout the 1980s and marked the beginning of the sport’s television boom.
“Words cannot express how sad and shocked I am to hear the terrible news about Eric’s passing a huge influence on my career and a larger than life character the world has lost a legend. RIP pal #16,” wrote the 57-year-old Taylor, who retired following his defeat in the 2018 PDC World Championship final.
Rob Cross beat Taylor 7–2 at Alexandra Palace on New Year’s Day to lift the title for the first time.
The new world champion, 27, reflected on the impact Bristow had on the generation looking to succeed him.
“The sport of darts owes him everything, he made it the huge success it is today,” Cross wrote on Twitter.
“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.”
Keith Deller beat Bristow in the 1983 BDO World Championship final in what was one of the tournament’s biggest shocks.
He also later worked with Bristow closely at Sky Sports and said: “I am devastated. Me and Eric were together all the time.”
Two-time world champion Michael van Gerwen tweeted: “Just heard the latest horrible news that Eric Bristow has passed away. My thought are with his family at this sad time. True legend in the game! #RIPEric #legend”
Fellow Dutchman Raymond van Barneveld wrote on Twitter: “He was darts he meant so much to me, cannot believe it !! My thoughts go out to his wife and family.”
One of darts’ first superstar players, Bristow won his five titles in the British Darts Organisation, dominating the sport between 1980 and 1986. His first title, a 5-3 defeat of Bobby George, marked the start of his dynasty.
Bristow was part of the breakaway group which formed the breakaway World Darts Council in 1993, which eventually went on to become the phenomenon which is the lucrative PDC circuit of today.
The influence of the Englishman stretched across all forms of the game.
Andy Fordham, BDO world champion in 2004, tweeted: “Can’t believe my hero has gone my thoughts are with his family R.I.P Eric”
He also finished fourth in ‘I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here’ in 2012 and moved into broadcasting with Sky Sports, combining commentary duties with working as a spotter, plotting the checkouts for the players that viewers see on their screens.
Bristow’s time with the broadcaster ended in 2016 after a series of tweets relating to the Barry Bennell abuse scandal. He later apologised for his remarks.