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Thursday, 7 November, 2002, 11:41 GMT
Lonnie Donegan: Your tributes
Lonnie Donegan, known as the "king of skiffle", has died aged 71.

The Glasgow-born singer was midway through a UK tour after recovering from a heart operation earlier this year.

He was with his wife and son when he died in Peterborough on Sunday and had been complaining of back trouble shortly before he fell ill.

His hits included Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour, My Old Man's A Dustman, Cumberland Gap and Puttin' On The Style.

More recently, work with Van Morrison had led to a resurgence in his career.

Thank you for your tributes to Lonnie Donegan. Read a selection of your comments below.


One of the nicest people in 'pop music'. I had the privilege of knowing him at the height of his fame, when I was a neighbour and a young fan. He took me to some of his TV shows. Lonnie had a great influence on my life. I regret that I will not be able to thank him again.
Robert Wilkinson, Portugal


He was an absolute pleasure to work with.

Bob Clarke, UK
I was privileged to be the recording engineer on Lonnie's last album "Muleskinner Blues". During the long hours in the studio, he was an absolute pleasure to work with. To be working with the man whose music was part of my childhood was awe-inspiring, as was the love and respect of all the guest musicians. Working with him live was an amazing experience, he had so much to teach us. Rest in peace, Lonnie, The King of Skiffle. Thanks for everything
Bob Clarke, UK

My grandfather was good friends with Lonnie throughout his early years. On behalf of my grandfather and the rest of our family I offer my sincere condolences to a man responsible for such gems as "My Old Man's A Dustman."
Munzar Sharif, UK

Lonnie Donegan was so very special. As a vocalist he was simply untouchable. I deeply regret I will never have the opportunity to see him perform in person. We recently did, however, become personally acquainted by phone. We traded jokes and "mutual bypass experiences." When I asked how he was able to start a song at a relatively "calm" pace and be "flying" by the end, he simply replied, "I just get excited." He died doing what he loved to do; he will be missed, especially by this 61 year old lawyer from Chicago.
Steve Pernick, USA


Skiffle will never be forgotten, and neither will you.

Paul Sherman, UK
From the first time I heard him singing 'Long Gone Lost John' on Worker's Playtime on Radio back in the 50s, I was hooked on skiffle, and Lonnie in particular... My first ever pop idol, and still my favourite artist. I have seen him perform many times, from the Royal Aquarium, Yarmouth in the 60s, through to Ramsgate, where I had my photograph taken with him, to last month in Tunbridge Wells. His performance had lost nothing over the 40 years he has been working. I bought a guitar to play the songs in 1957. I may well dig it out. If not, the music lives on through vinyl and CD. We love you Lonnie. Skiffle will never be forgotten, and neither will you.
Paul Sherman, U.K.

Lonnie stimulated some guys in our poor area to make their own guitars and I can remember as an eight year old staring up at those guys in the skiffle group - tea chest, washboard, and guitars. All home made. What a liberating experience. His songs stimulated, excited, and amused. I saw him on stage and was not disappointed. Lonnie and his songs will stay in my heart as long as I live.
Bill Hutchinson, Australia

Lonnie was part of my youth. A major influence in shaping my love of blues and jazz. I cherish a record of the early 50's by the legendary Ken Collyer Jazz Band, featuring all the greats of British Jazz - Ken Collyer, Chris Barber, Monty Sunshine, Jim Bowden, and, on banjo, dear Lonnie. Forget his popularist ditties like 'Chewing Gum' and 'Style'. I urge everyone to find and listen his two greatest songs: 'Frankie and Johnnie', and 'Aint no mo' cane on the brazos'- a truly beautiful rendition of a spiritual folk song that has me weeping every time. Now I'll weep more for the loss of this great singer.
Graham Follett, uk


I always thought he would go on for ever.

Anna Dance, England
During the 60s Lonnie was always on the TV. There was never a week went by when you did not seem him performing. He was so lively on stage and the music he played was superb. I always thought he would go on for ever. There are not many like him in show business nowadays. I shall miss him.
Anna Dance, England

I guess it was as a kid in the 50s I first played a 'Light blue,' Decca 78 - Rock Island Line. I remember looking forward to 'the fast bit!' It was at that time I first got out my mum's glass washboard - pinched some of her thimbles & started accompanying Lonnie! His Black & White TV show at the time was light and humorous - I distinctly recall the live 'My Old Man's a Dustman.' To this day when we're out Morris dancing it still goes down a treat, and tomorrow night (Thursday) at The Running Horse, Leatherhead as a tribute I'll have to sing Rock Island Line! Apart perhaps from 'The Beatles,' Lonnie Donegan must be the biggest influence over Popular Music in the UK over the past 50 years.
Ted Smith, England

I saw Lonnie the first time (the Odeon cinema, Romford) when I was a teenager - he played banjo in Chris Barbers Jazz Band. During the interval, the skiffle group did a set, I was hooked! Friends and I formed a skiffle group and played many of Lonnie's songs (one of my favourites being 'The Wreck of the Old 97') in local pubs & clubs. Skiffle gave way to pop/rock and I enjoyed eight years playing pro. To my regret, I never met 'The Man' but I followed his career over the years. Thanks Lonnie - for the inspiration you gave so many of us, and the enjoyment you gave to millions. Your music will live on.
Stuart Tann, UK


He never lost his love of the kids from the 50s

Pat and Roy Morgan, England
Great memories of a great musician. Lonnie was there at the beginning and never lost his love of the kids from the 50s. He will be remembered with the best of British music. Thanks for the memories.
Pat and Roy Morgan, England

Thanks for giving my daughter and I the music on records and in Nottingham at your last concert.
Per Kongebro, Denmark

For those of us who were lucky enough to be teenagers in the mid/late 50s Lonnie was the inspiration to make music. Many of us formed skiffle groups and enjoyed our 15 minutes of fame even if it was only at the local clubs and pubs, all thanks to Lonnie's example. Thanks Lonnie for the many years of sheer pleasure you gave to so many. It won't be the same without you.
Don Bentley, England


Your sense of fun will stay with me forever

Linda Howe, England
I met you in 1957. Your talent, charm and sense of fun will stay with me forever. The mould has been broken.
Linda Howe, England

Lonnie was a great man and musician who died with his boots on. He never stopped believing in himself or his music which has continued to improve with age. I hope the BBC recognises the man's greatness and screens Jack of Diamonds, a documentary it made only a few years back but broadcast only in Scotland. With deepest sympathies to all his family.
Dónal Gallagher, England

As I write these few words I am listening to Lonnie at the Conway Hall recorded in 1957. I saw Lonnie in Tunbridge Wells last month, the concert then was just as exciting. Thanks Lonnie we are going to miss you and how!
Mick Yates, England


A bigger influence on pop music than Elvis

Ed Fraser, England
A sensational live performer, even in his 70s. A bigger influence on pop music than Elvis. Without Lonnie there would not have been skiffle. Without skiffle, no Beatles, no Stones, no Queen, no Clapton, no Kinks etc.
Ed Fraser, England

I was born in Scotland in 1938. My significant memory of Lonnie was his outstanding Rock Island Line which I loved at that time when I was a wee boy. God bless him, a name to remember without a doubt.
Roderick Rhodes, Canada

I was playing the skiffle session tape in my car today and loving it. I walked into the house and heard the news about Lonnie, so sad. Steve Millin, England

Lonnie was great - a true original. I have listened to Lonnie since the 50s. My favourite was his wonderful rendition of Nobody's Child. You will be sadly missed Lonnie but you left some great music behind.
Bill Birch, USA

Have enjoyed Lonnie's music for the last 40 years. Seven Golden Daffodils is a real favourite. I'll miss him.
Martyn Garwood, England


He was unique

Sue, UK
I grew up with his music, my parents were huge fans - we'll miss him, he was unique.
Sue, UK

Lonnie was truly one of the most seminal influences in British pop music. Without him, the music of the last 45 years changes incalculably. A true legend has passed.
Rando Wilson, USA

Without Lonnie, there would have been no Beatles, Elvis Costello or Ian McNabb. RIP to a great inspiration.
Mike, UK


An era has passed

Dave Cockle, UK
So sad to hear of Lonnie's passing. A wonderful entertainer who will be sadly missed by many, he gave so much energy and fun at all his performances. An era has passed.
Dave Cockle, UK

I met Mr Donegan in 1992 when I looked after him in hospital. I had no idea who he was, he just said "call me Lonnie". The public sent him sacks of mail addressed simply "The King of Skiffle, Guy's Hospital". His guitar and music helped him to recover along with the support of his worldwide fans and friends.
Malcolm, Australia

I once saw this man in concert and I can honestly say it was the best concert I have ever been to. He was very talented and he had the audience in the palm of his hand. Lonnie Donegan was a man who reminded me of my childhood whenever I heard him on the radio, usually singing My Old Man's a Dustman. The man was a big influence on John Lennon and Great Britain will be a much poorer place without him. RIP Lonnie.
Geoff, Wales

My Old Man's a Dustman was the first song I ever learned to sing as a child, he will be sadly missed.
John, England


A really nice guy with a great talent

Susan, UK/USA
I used to live about half a mile from the first home Lonnie Donegan bought after his early success. As kids we used to walk past his house, which had a wrought iron guitar on the door. I loved his music and it was such a thrill to occasionally get a glimpse of him. A really nice guy with a great talent.
Susan, UK/USA

I was very fortunate to see his final show in Nottingham last week. Although clearly in a great deal of discomfort prior to the show he still provided a performance that, in my opinion, could not be bettered. A real musician.
Kevin, England

I recently visited the Beatles experience in Liverpool and saw how inspirational Lonnie was to them and other 60s groups. I saw him live last year and he, as always, put his whole self into the performance. He died the same date my father did in 1975. My father was a great fan of his. I hope they can now meet.
Jim Bassett, England


A true gentleman who was lovely to his fans

Nicky, England
I met Lonnie after a concert in Ipswich about 20 years ago. I remember him as a true gentleman who was lovely to his fans.
Nicky, England

Having had the pleasure of seeing Lonnie just a few days ago in Tunbridge Wells, he was in sparkling form, thanks for the music and some great memories, we'll all have a drink on you, Lonnie!
Kevin Spencer, UK

A great entertainer who will be sorely missed. I remember driving my father up the wall with my first (and only) record in the fifties - Cumberland Gap. I played it over and over again. It wasn't much later when I doubled my record collection by buying My Old Man's a Dustman - to my father's total dismay! In later years, he did admit that he quite liked Lonnie. My sincere condolences to his family and close friends.
Rex White, England/Norway


Lonnie was the king of skiffle

Barry Eva, Englishman now in the USA
Lonnie brought music to the masses. His songs were and still are an inspiration to millions. In every pub, club or karaoke where his songs are still sung and loved by all ages, he will be missed. Skiffle has feet tapping of all ages, and Lonnie was the king of skiffle.
Barry Eva, Englishman now in the USA

The true forefather of British music. The most talented performer this country has seen
David Parrish, UK

I had the pleasure of seeing Lonnie at the Cropredy Festival last year. He produced a thoroughly entertaining set which. A great musician and entertainer, he will be sadly missed.
Barry, England

Lonnie - although you are no longer with us, your musical legacy will still be around for all time.
John Scaife, England

I met Lonnie Donegan at the Empire Theatre in Liverpool where he was appearing on May 29, 1957. I was 15 at the time.

For some reason, I had taken my guitar to the Empire that night. After the show, I went around to the stage door into a screaming crowd of fans. I pushed my way through, holding my guitar high above my head out of harm's way as I moved closer to the door. As I got closer, I was waved through the crowd by someone, and through the door into the building. I was approached by Sheila Richardson, who was Lonnie's secretary. She ushered me into Lonnie's dressing room.

It was hot and crowded with people. On the wall hung five of those famous silver suits he wore on stage. Lonnie took one look at me and my guitar and said "It's a little bugger, isn't it" (or words to that effect) and so it was, old, beat up, and small.

After a while, Lonnie asked me if I would like to go to the Cavern with the group for an after hours session. I was familiar with the Cavern, having played there with the Angels. We all climbed into his Daimler drop head coupe and off we went to the Cavern, which by that time was closed to the public. The group members each took an instrument different that what they usually played. Present that evening were Nick Nicholls, drums; Mickey Ashman, bass, Jimmy Currie, guitar, Pete Buchanan, and one other. I am looking at their autographs as I write.

I was, of course, a big fan of Lonnie's, and maintained two scrapbooks of newspaper articles from his beginnings. Lonnie signed one scrapbook "To my official chronicler". In October 1957, I left England and skiffle. I maintained some contact with Sheila Richardson for a time. In 1980, I located Lonnie's home on the shores of Lake Tahoe, California. He was not home, and so I was unable to renew our acquaintance. Still, I have always remained a fan. To this day, I still like traditional jazz.
Bill Stanley, California, USA

See also:

04 Nov 02 | Entertainment
04 Nov 02 | Entertainment
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