Lonnie Donegan

  • Real Name: Anthony Donegan
  • Birth Date: 29th April 1931
  • Birth Place: Glasgow
  • Lonnie Donegan was widely acknowledged to be the 'King Of Skiffle'. A situation that came about more by chance than by design for Donegan did not invent the music nor was he responsible for its introduction onto the British music scene. However, he was responsible for its popularisation and it is beyond doubt that he was the greatest influence on those musical performers who would follow him in the 1960s to bring about the 'beat boom', 'the group sound' and establish Britain as an important force in popular music.

    Donegan was already an accomplished banjo player with the Chris Barber jazz band when the opportunity to provide a 'skiffle' break during the band's stage performances arose. One of the more popular numbers that Lonnie performed was 'Rock Island Line'- a song that he had taken from American bluesman 'Leadbelly' and provided with a new flavour of his own making. The issue of this number as a single proved so popular that Donegan had the temerity to ask Barber for a substantial raise. As Chris did not want to turn his band into a skiffle outfit the request was refused and Lonnie set out on his own.

    With his energy and dazzling skills on the fret he was already a popular musician with audiences. This, together with his extrovert originality and humour, made him an even more popular recording artist. A long series of chart successes followed which inspired other competitive groups all over the country. Skiffle was sufficiently simple and cheap enough for any youngsters to get started. These would include some of the most famous popular musicians of the era.

    Lonnie Donegan's stage act produced just as much enthusiasm as his recorded output. This EP (NEP24075) is a recording of a session made at the Conway Hall in London's Holborn on 25th January 1957. The sleeve notes claim that the audience reaction to Lonnie's performance was so enthusiastic that only four of the numbers performed were sufficiently audible above the noise to merit inclusion on the disc!

    Lonnie's songs were a mixture of blues, bluegrass, Cajun, old music hall numbers and songs simply created by himself, for Lonnie was also a skillful songwriter. He had in fact written a number for Adam Faith called 'Have A Drink On Me' which Adam rejected. Lonnie recorded it himself, but included the line; 'You can make a fortune writing Adam Faith songs' !

    However, Skiffle ceased almost as abruptly as it had started. After seven years of almost continuous chart presence Lonnie's reign came to an end. Despite changing his style a little to appeal to a new generation of record buyers Lonnie never returned to the charts. However, his legacy in the form of new talent who had learned their craft as skifflers would span the entire 1960s and beyond.

    Sadly, Lonnie Donegan who was frequently troubled with a heart condition during his later years, died on November 4th 2002 while touring- still actively pursuing his musical career at the age of 71. Lonnie's musical influences continue to live on.

    You can read a lot more about Lonnie Donegan in Spencer Leigh's book "Puttin' On The Style": click here

    1950s & 1960s 45rpm UK Discography

    • Listings include UK 45 singles releases only (Note some of Lonnie's Pye recordings were available only on 78 rpm)
    • Collector's Items are shown In Red

    Decca F10647 1955 Rock Island Line/ John Henry #8
    Decca F10695 1956 Diggin' My Potatoes/ Bury My Body  
    Columbia DB3850 1956 On A Christmas Day/ Take My Hand Precious Lord  
    Pye 7N15116 1957 Jack O'Diamonds/ Ham 'N' Eggs #14
    Pye 7N15129 1958 The Grand Coolie Dam/ Nobody Loves Like An Irishman #6
    Pye 7NJ2006 1958 Midnight Special/ When The Sun Goes Down  
    Pye 7N15148 1958 Sally Don't You Grieve/ Betty Betty Betty #11
    Pye 7N15158 1958 Lonesome Traveller/ Times Are Getting Hard Boys #28
    Pye 7N15165 1958 Lonnie's Skiffle Pt.1/ Pt.2 #23
    Pye 7N15172 1958 Tom Dooley/ Rock O' My Soul #3
    Pye 7N15181 1959 Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour/ Aunt Rhody #3
    Pye 7N15198 1959 Fort Worth Jail/ Whoa Buck #14
    Pye 7N15206 1959 Battle Of New Orleans/ Darling Corey #2
    Pye 7N15223 1959 Sal's Got A Sugar Lip/ Chesapeake Bay #13
    Pye 7N15237 1959 San Miguel/ Talking Guitar Blues #19
    Pye 7N15256 1960 My Old Man's A Dustman/ The Golden Vanity #1
    Pye 7N15267 1960 I Wanna Go Home (Wreck Of the John B.)/ Jimmy Brown The Newsboy #5
    Pye 7N15275  1960 Lorelei/ In All My Wildest Dreams #10
    Pye 7N15312 1960 Lively/ Black Cat (Cross My Path Today) #13
    Pye 7N15315 1960 Virgin Mary/ Beyond The Sunset #27
    Pye 7N15330 1961 (Bury Me) Beneath The Willow/ Leave My Woman Alone  
    Pye 7N15354 1961 Have A Drink On Me/ Seven Daffodils #8
    Pye 7N15371 1961 Michael Row the Boat/ Lumbered #6
    Pye 7N15410 1961 The Comancheros/ Ramblin' Round #14
    Pye 7N15424 1962 The Party's Over/ Over the Rainbow #9
    Pye 7N15446 1962 I'll Never Fall In Love Again/ Keep On The Sunny Side  
    Pye 7N15455 1962 Pick A Bale Of Cotton/ Steal Away #11
    Pye 7N15493 1962 The Market Song/ Tit-Bits  
    Pye 7N15514 1963 Losing My Hair/ Trumpet Sounds  
    Pye 7N15530 1963 It Was A Very Good Year/ Rise Up  
    Pye 7N15564 1963 Lemon Tree/ I've Gotta Girl So Far  
    Pye 7N15579 1963 500 Miles Away From Home/ This Train  
    Pye 7N15669 1964 Beans In My Ears/ It's A Long Road To Travel  
    Pye 7N15679 1964 Fisherman's Luck/ There's A Big Wheel  
    Pye 7N15803 1965 Get Out Of My Life/ Won't You Tell Me  
    Pye 7N15893 1965 Louisiana Man/ Bound For Zion  
    Pye 7N15993 1966 World Cup Willie/ Where In This World Are We Going  
    Pye 7N17109 1966 I Wanna Go Home/ Black Cat (Cross My Path Today)  
    Pye 7N17232 1967 Aunt Maggie's Remedy/ (Ah) My Sweet Marie  
    Columbia DB8371 1968 Toys/ Relax Your Mind  
    Decca F12984 1969 My Lovely Juanita/ Who Knows Where The Time Goes  

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