He told BBC Sport: "It's just unbelievable". He brought it to the eyes of everybody.
His dominance in his heyday inspired one of darts commentator Sid Waddell's most iconic quips: "When Alexander of Macedonia was 33, he cried salt tears because there were no more worlds to conquer".
In the 1980s, Bristow owned a pub in Stoke-on-Trent, which he called The Crafty Cockney, where a young metalworker named Phil Taylor would drop in to hone his skills at the dartboard. "Me and Eric were together all the time".
'So long as I've got enough to get by, I'm happy.
"It unquestionably cut my career short, but I'm positive about it".
Bristow got married to Jane in 1989 and were blessed with two children, Louise in 1991 and James in 1993. His family later grew to include a half-brother, Kevin, whose existence had been a well-kept secret until he was 45.
Bristow was world champion five times between 1980 and 1986, capturing the imagination of a new generation of fans at a time when darts was reaching into the mainstream with increased TV coverage.
The five-time world champion died Thursday evening after suffering a suspected heart attack.
"As a player he was larger than life and a joy to watch".
Eric, known as the Crafty Cockney, entered the Australian jungle in 2012 for the ITV show, where he finished in fourth place.
"He had that star quality".
Keith Deller, who beat Bristow in the 1983 BDO World Championship final - one of the tournament's biggest shocks, worked with Bristow closely at Sky Sports and said: "I am devastated".
Peter Wright dedicates the match to Eric Bristow.
He said: "I thought, there's no way, we only saw him a couple of hours ago". He always wanted to make sure I got home safe. His name was inducted into the PDC Hall of Fame in 2005. He was there to watch the Premier League Darts.
Champion, controversial, showman. There was only one Eric Bristow.