November 3, 2002 – Anthony James Donegan better known as Lonnie Donegan was born in Scotland on April 29th 1931. He is known for being the Scottish singer, guitar, banjo, songwriter and pioneer, who launched the skiffle craze in the UK, sometimes called the King of Skiffle.
Born in Bridgeton, Glasgow, Scotland he was a huge influence on the generation of British musicians who became famous in the 1960s. The Guinness Book of British Hit Singles & Albums states Lonnie was “Britain’s most successful and influential recording artist before The Beatles. He chalked up 24 successive Top 30 hits, and was the first UK male to score two U.S. Top 10s”.
His many hits include “Rock Island Line”, “Gamblin’ Man”, “Lost John”, “Don’t You Rock Me Daddy-O”, “Cumberland Gap”, “My Dixie Darlin'”, “Jack O’ Diamonds”, “The Grand Coulee Dam”, “Sally Don’t You Grieve”, “Tom Dooley”, “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose It’s Flavour (On The Bedpost Over Night)”, “Battle of New Orleans”, and ‘My Old Man’s A Dustman’.
Donegan had a late renaissance when in 2000 he appeared on Van Morrison’s album The Skiffle Sessions – Live in Belfast 1998, an acclaimed album featuring Donegan singing with Van Morrison and Chris Barber, with a guest appearance by Dr John. Donegan also played at the Glastonbury Festival, and was made an MBE in 2000.
He sadly passed away from heart problems on Nov 3, 2002 mid-way through a UK tour and before he was due to perform at a memorial concert for George Harrison with The Rolling Stones. He had had cardiac problems since the 1970s and had several previous heart attacks. He was 71.
Dire Staits’ founder, guitar superstar and singer Mark Knopfler released a tribute to Donegan entitled “Donegan’s Gone” on his 2004 album, Shangri-La, and said he was one of his greatest influences.