"Lonnie Donegan was so far ahead of every other British singer of popular music at the time..." ---Rodger Rettig
Absolutely true, Rodger. Lonnie managed to create his success by American roots music as you said. He has had the ability to transfer this kind of music into a new area of popular music. Sometimes he underlined this approach by means of new lyrics.
Personally, I'm convinced about the fact that he has (had) a perfect voice for almost all the songs he recorded.
Concerning "Frankie and Johnny" I come to the result, that this was one of his outstandig performances. A real jewel. It never made the jump into the british top-ten/twenty. Perhaps, his version was a little bit too long for this programme in those days.
Last but not least: thus far, thanks for your participation to this thread. Isn't it funny, that this was initiated by a German?? But there's a reason behind this: in the 60's and even 70's Lonnie was comparatively popular in (Northern) Germany. Above all in Hamburg where he recorded many tracks with a skiffle group called Leinemannn.