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What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?

DigiTrad:
DOES THE SPEARMINT LOSE ITS FLAVOR ON THE BEDPOST OVERNIGHT?
MY OLD MAN'S A DUSTMAN


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GUEST,Tunesmith 18 Sep 10 - 04:45 PM
RWilhelm 18 Sep 10 - 05:52 PM
MikeofNorthumbria 18 Sep 10 - 06:50 PM
John MacKenzie 18 Sep 10 - 06:58 PM
Will Fly 18 Sep 10 - 07:09 PM
Little Hawk 18 Sep 10 - 08:17 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 18 Sep 10 - 09:26 PM
GUEST,Roger Rettig 18 Sep 10 - 10:24 PM
Effsee 18 Sep 10 - 10:25 PM
Smokey. 18 Sep 10 - 10:39 PM
GUEST,FloraG 19 Sep 10 - 03:41 AM
Roger the Skiffler 19 Sep 10 - 04:22 AM
Roger the Skiffler 19 Sep 10 - 04:52 AM
Old Vermin 19 Sep 10 - 07:29 AM
Fossil 19 Sep 10 - 07:56 AM
MikeofNorthumbria 19 Sep 10 - 08:06 AM
bubblyrat 19 Sep 10 - 08:30 AM
GUEST 19 Sep 10 - 09:11 AM
MikeL2 19 Sep 10 - 09:48 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 19 Sep 10 - 12:25 PM
Bonzo3legs 19 Sep 10 - 12:46 PM
Herga Kitty 19 Sep 10 - 01:44 PM
GUEST,FloraG 19 Sep 10 - 02:26 PM
Max 19 Sep 10 - 02:50 PM
GUEST,matt milton 19 Sep 10 - 02:50 PM
Tattie Bogle 19 Sep 10 - 03:10 PM
MGM·Lion 19 Sep 10 - 03:41 PM
Jim Carroll 19 Sep 10 - 04:05 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 19 Sep 10 - 07:21 PM
Stringsinger 19 Sep 10 - 08:11 PM
Midchuck 19 Sep 10 - 09:04 PM
Roger the Skiffler 20 Sep 10 - 06:14 AM
Desi C 20 Sep 10 - 07:21 AM
MikeofNorthumbria 20 Sep 10 - 07:22 AM
legrande111 20 Sep 10 - 09:04 AM
GUEST,redvan 20 Sep 10 - 09:13 AM
Roger the Skiffler 14 Oct 10 - 06:15 AM
Arthur_itus 14 Oct 10 - 06:44 AM
Brian May 14 Oct 10 - 07:31 AM
greg stephens 14 Oct 10 - 07:33 AM
GUEST,JonR 14 Oct 10 - 08:15 AM
Arthur_itus 14 Oct 10 - 10:14 AM
MikeL2 14 Oct 10 - 11:27 AM
Guernsey Pete 25 Feb 11 - 05:16 PM
Nick 25 Feb 11 - 06:41 PM
GUEST,Pat McD 21 Jun 11 - 12:21 PM
GUEST,Captain Farrell 21 Jun 11 - 12:49 PM
GUEST,Doc John 21 Jun 11 - 01:41 PM
goatfell 21 Jun 11 - 02:30 PM
greg stephens 21 Jun 11 - 02:48 PM
banjoman 22 Jun 11 - 05:36 AM
Murray MacLeod 22 Jun 11 - 01:33 PM
GUEST,Warren James 22 Jun 11 - 04:39 PM
Arthur_itus 22 Jun 11 - 05:12 PM
Arthur_itus 22 Jun 11 - 05:22 PM
MGM·Lion 22 Jun 11 - 05:56 PM
tritoneman 22 Jun 11 - 06:00 PM
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Subject: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 18 Sep 10 - 04:45 PM

I've always been underwhelmed by Lonnie Donegan! Well, actually that's not exactly true because I think I was a fan for a couple of weeks back in 1956.
Lonnie did get thousands of UK lads to take up the guitar back in the mid-50s but, if Lonnie hadn't existed, those same lads would have taken up the guitar as soon as Elvis, Buddy, Eddie etc appeared. And, as it happens, those lads - almost to a man - ditched
Lonnie in favour of Elvis, Buddy and friends as soon as they hit the charts.
And, let's not forget, that Lonnie dented - severely, the impact of The Kingston Trio in the UK with his cover versions of their U.S. hits.
Indeed, has he had any positive and lasting impact on the UK folk music scene at all? Well, no!


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: RWilhelm
Date: 18 Sep 10 - 05:52 PM

We would have had to invent him.


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 18 Sep 10 - 06:50 PM

Tunesmith – to answer your question as to whether LD "had any positive and lasting impact on the UK folk music scene" would require a lengthy article, which I don't have time to write tonight. But please give some consideration to the following points.

1) There is ample testimony that LD's early records opened up the ears and minds of a great many people – directly to various kinds of American roots music , and indirectly to the roots music of their own home countries. Without this stimulus, the folk revival would certainly have been different – and it might not have happened at all.

2) More importantly, LD persuaded a great many people that music did not have to be a commercial product, churned out for them by the entertainment industry.    Thousands of them went out and bought instruments, learned how to play them, and started making their own music in their own way. This undoubtedly had a considerable impact on the development of the folk revival in the UK.

Perhaps if LD may had been run over by a bus in 1954, the course of musical history would not have changed all that much. Maybe someone else (Alexis Korner?) would have stepped in to fill the vacancy. Possibly the Kingston Trio (or Burl Ives?)would have sold a few million more records on this side of the pond. And perhaps the worthy efforts of Lloyd, MacColl, Seeger, Kennedy and the EFDSS would still have kick-started the folk scene of the 1960s, even if skiffle had never happened.   But personally, I doubt it.

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 18 Sep 10 - 06:58 PM

Lonnie Donegan was a banjo player in Chris Barner's Jazz Band, and more of a musician than a lot of people gave him credit for.
I can't really agree that the people you mention would have inspired as many people to take up guitar, as he did.
He made it look easier than it was, that's what made people think they could do it.
Yes he covered the hits of others, it was very common in those days, and many of the covers were a lot better than the originals anyway.
Who had the biggest hit with Mr Tambourine man? Not the guy who wrote it!


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: Will Fly
Date: 18 Sep 10 - 07:09 PM

Donegan was one of the first British musicians to perform the music of Leadbelly. Donegan was a fine musician and, if he piggybacked on the shoulders of Leadbelly, so what? As far as the Kingston Trio and Burl Ives are concerned, Donegan's performances were alive, forceful and electrifying. And, of course, fashion passed him by, but he he was a great singer, guitarist and banjo player.

And let's not forget that it was the influence of Chris Barber - the first English guy to get people like Broonzy over here - that helped Donegan along his chosen path.


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 18 Sep 10 - 08:17 PM

"Who had the biggest hit with Mr Tambourine man? Not the guy who wrote it!"

The Byrds had the biggest hit with Mr Tambourine Man. However, the original version of the song by "the guy who wrote it" considerably surpasses their version, in my opinion, as well as surpassing anyone else's cover of that song. That's just my own opinion, of course. Feel free to disagree with it all you want. Opinions are the spice of life, right? ;-)


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 18 Sep 10 - 09:26 PM

Why limit this to the UK? I still have several 45 rpms of Lonnie's and his first lp. issued in the country. In a couple of weeks I'll be jointly-leading a workshop on Folk music influences at the Getaway and one of the songs I'll do is Whoa Back Buck which I first heard by Lonnie. I could talk a long time about the influence that Lonnie had on my music. If you heard my music you might not make the connection, but at the heart of his music was rhythm, exuberance and humor. He was clearly having a lot of fun, not by making fun of or diminishing the music. If NOTHING else, folk music should be fun. Nobody could top Lonnie on that.


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: GUEST,Roger Rettig
Date: 18 Sep 10 - 10:24 PM

Alexis Korner? Now that would have been 'underwhelming'!

Jerry's nailed it in my opinion, but I'd add that Lonnie, as well as 'exuberance and humour', was possessed of a magical charisma - I'd venture to say that he'd have succeeded in almost any field of entertainment. I'm delighted that his tastes encompassed blues and American roots music because, without him, I doubt I'd have listened to it at all. I don't know about the rest of you, but he was a 'pied piper' to me and I'm not sure that, even after fifty years of playing professionally myself, I'm completely free of the spell he cast upon me.

I expect that Elvis, Buddy and/or Don & Phil would have eventually drawn me into the guitar-playing fold as it were, but it's Lonnie who actually did it. The landscape is as it is, and speculation as to how it might have been without him is pointless. Lonnie is due much of the creditm - he made folk music 'cool'!

Mike: Excellent post!

RR


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: Effsee
Date: 18 Sep 10 - 10:25 PM

Amen to that Jerry...not much of it about nowadays!


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: Smokey.
Date: 18 Sep 10 - 10:39 PM

If Lonnie Donegan had not existed, the butterfly might never have flapped its wings.

(Grunts and passes out again)


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 19 Sep 10 - 03:41 AM

Has anyone heard the son live? He is performing local to us and were not sure if its worth going. Thanks
FloraG


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 19 Sep 10 - 04:22 AM

The skiffle boom may have been smaller, but Ken Colyer had already kicked it off. However, the "top ten" success of LD, only surpassed by the Beatles, undoubtedly led a wider public to a)American folk and blues previously only familiar to trad jazz enthusiasts, and b) to a remarkable surge in the sale of guitars (and to a lesser extent, banjos)and a desire to play them, many of those players then gravitated to different styles of music.
Incidentally, the Peter Donegan Band (LD's last band led by his son) is at the Camberley Theatre 13th Oct and presumable touring elsewhere. See you there.
RtS
(...and of course I might not have been posting on Mudcat if it hadn't been for St lonnie)


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 19 Sep 10 - 04:52 AM

Flora,
Peter sounds very like his dad at times, is a good musician and the band is good. Well worth seeing IMHO.
RtS


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: Old Vermin
Date: 19 Sep 10 - 07:29 AM

Now what if LD had played fiddle? Or mandolin?


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: Fossil
Date: 19 Sep 10 - 07:56 AM

All us guitar players would never have known how ta get in trouble...


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 19 Sep 10 - 08:06 AM

I agree entirely with Jerry and Roger that LD's exuberance, humour and charisma were as much a part of his success as his musicianship (and his skill at picking good songs). I first witnessed this at the old Chiswick Empire in (about) 1958, when I saw him playing Wishee Washee in "Aladdin".

In those days, it was quite common for pop stars and their backing groups to do walk-on parts in a Christmas pantomime. This gave them an excuse to play a selection of their hits at some point in the show, but for the rest of the time their impact was usually minimal. Not so with Lonnie – he commanded the stage whenever he was on it, whether leading his band or playing the cockney "cheeky chappie" role to the hilt.

The last time I saw Lonnie live was at the New Tyne Theatre in Newcastle, the year before he died. He was as awesome as ever, and his band (which included his son Peter) were much better than most of the ensembles he recorded with in the old days. Besides being excellent instrumentalists they could also sing harmonies, and they performed some stunning a capella versions of work-songs and spirituals.

During the years between, Lonnie made a number of recordings that didn't appeal much to me. Some were just too frantic (like "Gambling Man") while others were far too sentimental (as on the EP "Lonnie in Tender Mood"). And on many of them, the cheerful informality of his earliest work was replaced by a glitzy show-biz style that clashed with the folkier items that remained in his repertoire. But nevertheless on the right occasion, and in the right company, he could still rock the joint – as his recordings with Van Morrison and friends demonstrated.

Agreed, Lonnie had his flaws – but despite them, he was (IMHO) the man without whom a great many of us would not be where we are now, musically speaking. And for that, we all owe him, big time.

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: bubblyrat
Date: 19 Sep 10 - 08:30 AM

I liked him, and so did Joe Brown,who did a marvellous tribute show.
He (LD) had a great influence on me,and a lot of my contemporaries.But then so did Ricky Nelson (as he was then),the Everleys,John Denver, PP&M , et al : they were all part of the same overall picture,and we should be grateful for the lives of them all.IMHO.


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Sep 10 - 09:11 AM

Mike:

I've enjoyed your posts here, and in essence agree with you, but have to take issue on two points:

1) Mr Korner could never have initiated any kind of 'national craze' - skiffle was huge in the late '50s, but it was only because of the drawing power of Lonnie Donegan. He discovered early that he had a real knack for communicating with an audience and holding them in the palm of his hand. He exploited that to the full and, when the charm had worn off his regurgitations of US folk songs, he was quick to wake up to the notion of reworking music hall songs. Alexis might have filled the back room of the Half Moon, Putney, but that would have been about it.

2) His musicians: how CAN you compare anyone in his latter-day bands to the masterful Denny Wright??? Denny, Nick Nichols and Mickey Ashman were three of the UK's finest musicians at that time, and I'm still entranced at Denny's inventive accompaniment when I listen to those records now.

All his later players were culled from the ranks of rock musicians from a later era - they often overplayed, were too loud and, for me, were not all that sympathetic to the material. His shows were always good value because Lonnie was always out front engaging us, the audience, with his elfin humour and he never went on stage without giving it all he had. Of course, things had come full-circle - those musicians that I've denigrated above were the very product of Donegan's enormous influence all those years earlier; a classic case of reaping what he'd sown!

I worked for Lonnie a couple of times and I'll treasure those memories as long as I live. I also played guitar in Marty Wilde's and Joe Brown's bands many years ago now and I can confirm that both of them were - and still are - huge fans of Lonnie Donegan; we used to have many lively conversations on the subject!

One last thing: I was so pleased to see you mentioned 'Whoa Buck'! While it may not be my very favourite Donegan track, it's in my top-five. If I wanted to explain to another musician today what Lonnie was all about back then I think I'd play them that track. It's never heard these days, but it should be!

It was actually the B-side of the frenetic 'Fort Worth Jail'; by then Les Bennetts had taken the guitar 'chair' in the group (something I'll always see as the beginning of the end, musically!), but 'Whoa Buck' had been in the can for some months and still benefitted from Jimmy Currie's tasteful playing.

RR


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: MikeL2
Date: 19 Sep 10 - 09:48 AM

Hi

I agree with the guys that were influenced by Lonnie's success with Chris Barber.

Lonnie brought to me music that I had never heard before and like many others at the time I was apt to copy him and go out in public and sing and play "his" material.

The thing for me that was different was that until then audiences were also influenced by Lonnie and crowded into the pubs and clubs to listen to people like us play.

Many years later I met Lonnie when he returned to my home town. Unknown to me Lonnie had lived in the town when he was evacuated during the war and lived there for some years.

He returned to do a charity show for the Mayor's charity because husband of the family he lived with was made mayor.

We played on the same bill but we were pale imitations of Lonnie.

He talked with us and encouraged us to continue and gave us some tips about presentation etc etc.

As others have said here on stage he had a presence that endeared him to the audience and was first and foremost a musician and entertainer.

I know many people who only bought guitars because of the emergence of Lonnie on the British music scene.

In the early days I enjoyed most of his hits eg Cumberland Gap etc etc but latterly I preferred him with more mellow type songs like Nobody's Child and Seven Golden Daffodils.

He is badly missed on the music scene.


cheers

MikeL2


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 19 Sep 10 - 12:25 PM

I recorded Whoa Back Buck on my first Folk Legacy album. It wasn't meant to be a copy of Lonnie's version and I added a verse I picked up from Dave Van Ronk, but I added a vocal aside, "That's a dance" after Sugar on the Gourd, just a Lonnie did on his recording. It was part of the song for me.

I've tried to do Old Riley for yearzs but could never do it justice.

I would think that Lonnie would like people to do their own interpretations of the songs he reecorded and make them their own. He certainly did.


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 19 Sep 10 - 12:46 PM

Lonnie Donegan was the first British artist who had a "sound". Don't forget that most of the British rock n roll records at that time were awful by comparison.

I always remember my mother disapproving of Tom Dooley because of the subject matter of the song!


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 19 Sep 10 - 01:44 PM

Elvis, Buddy and Eddy died young, and didn't perform on the UK folk scene. Lonnie Donegan was still playing (including at Sidmouth Folk Festival)decades after they died, and taking an interest in folk music played by others.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 19 Sep 10 - 02:26 PM

To Roger the S
Thanks. We always regret not seeing LD in person.
FloraG.


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: Max
Date: 19 Sep 10 - 02:50 PM

Viva La Skiffle Revolution.

Trying to perfect a version of Whoa Back Buck myself. Perhaps I can get some pointers from Jerry at the Getaway.


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 19 Sep 10 - 02:50 PM

I think it's a silly thing to contemplate, because you answer your own question in your opening post. He was the most successful of a huge wave of (skiffle) music: british kids grabbing guitars and emulating hillbilly and "race" records.

Lonnie Donegan had to exist. Inevitable. just like Elvis. just like the Beatles. just like Robert Johnson. That's how epochs, trends and music work.


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 19 Sep 10 - 03:10 PM

I was a huge fan in my teenage years, and Tom Dooley and Putting on the Style were among my first record purchases. The latter still gets sung a lot in sessions and is highly popular.
Like Kitty, I saw him at Sidmouth a year or 2 before he died, and you could not doubt what a consummate performer he was (a bundle of energy even after cardiac surgery!)


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Sep 10 - 03:41 PM

The answer to the actual thread question is surely that he was one of a complex of influences which the zeitgeist threw up just then. all different in nature, but all tending to a 'folk revival' centre ~~ LD himself being part of, in US, such as Broonzy leading to the Lomaxes [or perhaps vice versa], Burl Ives, Josh White, Tom Glazer, Doc Watson, Mrs Gladden, Pete Seeger & the Weavers, Woody Guthrie, Dave van Ronk, PPM, Kingstons, et al, et al, et al, + succeeding generation of Rinzler, Gitter, Gina Glazer, Paton ...

... & over here those as different as Ewan MacColl & Bert Lloyd on one hand, the Chas McDevitt Skiffle Group, Hyam Morris's skifflers, &c, on the other; with Nancy Whiskey, Jimmy McGregor & Robin Hall, Stan Kelly, Dominic Behan, Peggy Seeger, Shirley Collins, the McEwen Bros Rory & Alex: followed by a next generation of Martin Carthy, →→ Nic Jones, June Tabor, Tony Rose, Dransfields...

Without any of these + their obvious contemps [fill in your own list], the tendency of posts on Mudcat wouldn't be as it is ~~ if, indeed, there were a Mudcat at all.

So the question in the thread title is a great imponderable; & quite a few other names could replace the one who is its ostensible subject. Couldn't they?

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Sep 10 - 04:05 PM

"Chas McDevitt Skiffle Group, Hyam Morris's skifflers, &c, on the other; with Nancy Whiskey....."
Not forgetting the mighty Ken Colyer, who introduced many, including Donegan, to the material that was to form the basis of the skiffle/jazz/folk movements.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 19 Sep 10 - 07:21 PM

I'll be happy to show you how I do it, Max. Perfect it ain't. :-)

Mostly, it will be great to meet you, Max.


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 19 Sep 10 - 08:11 PM

If he hadn't existed, Moe Asch at Folkways Records wouldn't have offered to break every Leadbelly record over Donegan's head for Lonnie's attempt to collect royalties for Leadbelly's songs from Folkways. Actually, I don't think Moe would have wasted those recordings on such a meaningless gesture but he was angry. Donegan was arrogant and out of line and apparently self-important.


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: Midchuck
Date: 19 Sep 10 - 09:04 PM

Had he not existed, people would not have realized that your chewing gum loses its flavor on the bedpost overnight.

People would have used the same chewing gum for several days, rather than a new piece each day.

Chewing gum purchases would have been much lower.

Profits of the major candy companies would have dropped substantially.

The stock in those companies would have declined, triggering a general decline in the stock markets, which would have cut off the postwar economic boom and relapsed the world into depression.

The Soviets would have been encouraged by the distress of the West, and attempted more aggressive tactics in the cold war.

The US and the other NATO nations would have responded violently, encouraged by the unspoken thought that war spending might again trigger a business recovery.

As hostilities escalated, one side or the other would have initiated the use of nuclear weapons.

A spasm of nuclear attacks by both sides would have broken out, not only killing millions directly, but destroying the world's ecology in a "nuclear winter" scenario.

No higher life forms would have survived on the planet.

So whatever you didn't like about him, it's probably better that he existed.

Peter


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 20 Sep 10 - 06:14 AM

Frank's right that LD used to change a song slightly & then claim authorship but he was not alone. Leadbelly himeslf and Lonnie Johnson (2 of my other all-time favourite performers) both claim authorship of Bessie Smith's Blackwater Blues: it's in the Leadbelly Songbook as one of Huddie's while stile retaining the female voice.

RtS


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: Desi C
Date: 20 Sep 10 - 07:21 AM

As others may have said Lonnie did probably bridge the gap between U.S folk and open ears to the likes of Woodie Guthrie and Co, and with he influx in the early 60's of Dylan, Lomaxm Seeger and Co, that led to Ewan McColl's protection and ressurrection of English Folk and the singers clubs. So, while I'd agree Lonnie's own music may hot have been brilliant, he did have much more effect on music history in the folk sense, and in particular motivating youngsters to take up or make their own instruments


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 20 Sep 10 - 07:22 AM

>>> From: GUEST
Date: 19 Sep 10 - 09:11 AM

Mike:

I've enjoyed your posts here, and in essence agree with you, but have to take issue on two points:

1) Mr Korner could never have initiated any kind of 'national craze' … <<<

Guest, I don't dissent from that – remember that the paragraph in which I floated that idea began with "Possibly …" and ended with "… But personally I doubt it".

After searching my memory for names who MIGHT have filled that gap, I thought that Alexis seemed a better fit than, for example, Ken Colyer, Steve Benbow or Diz Dizley. But eventually I concluded that nobody else had both the musical background and the stage presence to make things happen in the way that LD did.

As regards your second objection:

>>> 2) His musicians: how CAN you compare anyone in his latter-day bands to the masterful Denny Wright??? Denny, Nick Nichols and Mickey Ashman were three of the UK's finest musicians at that time, and I'm still entranced at Denny's inventive accompaniment when I listen to those records now.<<

Once again we don't have a fundamental disagreement. I agree that the Wright/Ashman/Nichols group were excellent - just listen to the way they drive "Frankie and Johnny" on that first LP.   I also have great affection for the homelier sound of Chris Barber's (often under-rated bass) and Beryl Bryden's washboard, which also generated an effective, though less powerful rhythmic pulse.

The backing musicians I was less happy with were those who came along a bit later – for example the ones who appeared in his ITV series "Putting on the Donegan" (bits of which are now available on DVD) – and some of the others who backed him in the '70s and '80s. They were all competent enough as musicians, but didn't seem to have much empathy with the songs themselves.

In contrast, the musicians who backed him in the '90s and early 2000s seemed (to me) to have a lot more feeling for (and commitment to) the music. I wish some of those concerts had been videoed. (Maybe there's an opportunity here for someone to follow the example of Springsteen's "Seeger Sessions" and put together an all-star band to record a Donegan tribute?)

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: legrande111
Date: 20 Sep 10 - 09:04 AM

Mike:

(Now I've signed in, 'Guest' has become 'LeGrande111'.)

Having read your initial post more carefully I concede that you expressed reservations about Korner's potential. Sorry!

The second point: It's my belief that no subsequent bands equalled the quality of the Wright/Ashman/Nichols line-up. Jimmy Currie was an adequate replacement for Wright, whose shoes would have been impossible to fill entirely whoever had been hired.

I wrote:

"It was actually the B-side of the frenetic 'Fort Worth Jail'; by then Les Bennetts had taken the guitar 'chair' in the group (something I'll always see as the beginning of the end, musically!), but 'Whoa Buck' had been in the can for some months and still benefitted from Jimmy Currie's tasteful playing."

Les Bennetts is the guitarist who is exclusively featured in those 1959-onwards 'Putting On The Donegan'. That's a shame, in my view, because the POTD clips are virtually all the footage that remains of Donegan in his hit-making days. If only they'd been made just a year earlier! Les just sounded to me like a clumsy, slightly flashy player falling back on some tired-sounding phrases he'd borrowed from the popular American country music recordings of the day - lots of pentatonic trickery, no substance.

So: we agree, perhaps, regarding the POTD material. I'm playing with younger musicians here in the US and they're curious about my early inspiration, yet I'm loathe to point them to the myriad YouTube clips of Lonnie Donegan - they're all a bit contaminated by the indifferent guitar-player, and fail to recall the magic of LD's best work.

As far as his final days are concerned, we're going to have to agree to differ; they sound like rock musicians to me, and are missing that subtle jazz influence that permeated the earliest line-ups. I know that LD himself was satisfied with his later bands, but I was never totally convinced that he realised just how good his 1956-57 work was. Amazingly, Donegan remained convinced that his later reworking of 'Rock Island Line', complete with overdriven guitar-licks, thunderous drum-figures et al, was an improvement on his original!

Chris Barber:

"Lost John" is wonderful, yet there's no Denny Wright here - he was yet to join up, but Chris B. actually provides a spirited obligato on his double-bass! Great stuff!

Roger Rettig (LeGrande111)


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: GUEST,redvan
Date: 20 Sep 10 - 09:13 AM

He wound't have lived across the road from my father in law


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 14 Oct 10 - 06:15 AM

PS to GUEST FloraG:
Saw the Peter Donegan Band at Camberley last night- a small but enthusiastic audience of a certain age (like me). Hearing aids and walking sticks were not compulsory but...
The band consisted of PD: Acoustic guitars, banjo, piano, mandolin, harmonica and lead vocals, "Steady" Eddie Masters on bass guitar, Chris Hunt on drums and Alan "Sticky" Wicket on washboard, added percussion and backing vocals. A guitarist called John(didn't catch his last name) deputised for Paul Henry on electric guitar. They played a lot of the old LD repertoire and some of PD's own, he took requests from the audience and his older brother, Anthony guested on acoustic guitar and lead vocals on "Gamblin' Man". PD even kept up the family tradition of breaking strings (3 times!).
Hope you have an equally entertaining evening.

RtS


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: Arthur_itus
Date: 14 Oct 10 - 06:44 AM

Lonnie Donegan was tops IMHO

Lonnie influenced many a performer.

What a silly question. He did exist and had a great influence on music.

These are 2 of my big favourites from him

Ham 'N Eggs

Severn Golden Daffodils

If I am in a bad mood or feeling down, I put Lonnie Donegan on. He soon cheers me up.


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: Brian May
Date: 14 Oct 10 - 07:31 AM

Arthur,

When you put Lonnie Donegan on . . . does he zip or button? ;o)


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: greg stephens
Date: 14 Oct 10 - 07:33 AM

Lonnie's influence was so enormous was because people loved him. That may be difficult(or impossible) to explain to younger people now, who weren't around in 1956. But his Rock Island, Lost John etc aroused very powerful emotions in people: the combination of the power of traditional folk song with Lonnie's extraordinary charisma was unstoppable.(It goes without saying that no performer of traditional song in Britain has had anywhere near that popular impact since, alas). John Peel famously was scarcely able to speak on the radio for the tears when he was announcing Lonnie's death and playing a few tracks on Radio 1. I heard the news of the death announced on Radio2 when driving up the M6, pulled in at the next service station and sobbed and sobbed.
And yes, My Old Man's a Dustman was shite. But quality shite.


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: GUEST,JonR
Date: 14 Oct 10 - 08:15 AM

I agree with all those who big up his influence.

What made him different from almost all the other artists mentioned was his energy. He was more of a British Elvis than Cliff Richard ever was.
It was his rhythmic drive that made skiffle as a genre so exciting. Of course he was supported in the beginning by excellent musicians, but he led from in front. His energy still comes out of those early records while most of his contemporaries sound dated and safe. His skiffle had a genuine rockabilly drive. They made you want to get out of your seat (or even rip the seat up), while most of the competition sounded like an accompaniment to a nice cup of tea.

One of the first LPs I ever heard as a child was his "An Englishman Sings American Folk Songs" - designed for the US market at a time when the statement in the title was a true novelty. The sound of the arrangements and production stayed with me - the intensity, sensitive phrasing and space in Nobody's Child and Alabammy Bound. (I still regard his versions of both as definitive - Leadbelly's Alabama Bound is good, of course, but doesn't have the same restrained yet intense feel. Not too sure about the backing vocals on Lonnie's, that's the only thing.)

IOW, it wasn't just that he introduced US blues to UK audiences, but he did it with a healthy dose of intelligent creativity and charismatic performance. That was the difference between him and the likes of Korner, Barber and Colyer. Of course those three were great musicians, highly influential on other musicians, and one can argue that LD "sold out", over-commercialising the material. But I think in the beginning he struck just the right balance - showed how the blues could give a voice to ordinary young British teenagers, not just be the underground obsession of a clique.
(I shall draw a veil over Chewing Gum and Dustman...)

There's a similar comparison, IMO, with the Stones in the 60s. They also took blues and made it charismatic and relevant to white youth, practically instigating a whole new genre (and were accused of selling out in the process - and left poor Alexis in the slipstream for a second time...). Who else could have done that? John Mayall???


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: Arthur_itus
Date: 14 Oct 10 - 10:14 AM

ooooh you are rude Brian :-)


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: MikeL2
Date: 14 Oct 10 - 11:27 AM

hi Kitty

If by Eddy you mean Eddy Cochran - well Eddy certainly did appear in England I saw him in 1960. In fact he actually died in a car smash over here.

Tragic - he was only 21 and just embarking on what IMHO would have been a huge career. In the short time of his life he had already started to influence many people with his R&R rauchy sound.

regards

MikeL2


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: Guernsey Pete
Date: 25 Feb 11 - 05:16 PM

Of course, Eddy Cochrane is famous for teaching British guitarists how to bend strings.
1) buy a banjo 5th string. replace the 1st string with the banjo string.
2) put the 1st string in the 2nd string position.
3)                2nd                      3rd
4)                3rd                        4th
5)                4th                        5th
6)                5th                         6th
7) Throw away the 6th string.
Joe Brown said that, in a matter of weeks, you couldn't get a banjo 5th anywhere in London !


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: Nick
Date: 25 Feb 11 - 06:41 PM

If Lonnie Donegan hadn't existed then his ex-wife and kids wouldn'nt have lived in South Woodford and I wouldn't have met them


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: GUEST,Pat McD
Date: 21 Jun 11 - 12:21 PM

If Lonnie Donegan had not exited I would not missed my first ever gig. I went to St Mary's RC Junior School in Acton Green, London W4 and when Lonnie Donegan appeared at the nearby Chiswick Empire in 1956/57, the whole class booked and went to see him in the matinee performance. It was fantastic and since then I have never lost the urge to see live music.


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: GUEST,Captain Farrell
Date: 21 Jun 11 - 12:49 PM

So thrilled to see him twice At Trimdon Labour club and Village Pump festival.a unique talent. He sounded just the same live or on disc


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: GUEST,Doc John
Date: 21 Jun 11 - 01:41 PM

Everything about the development of music has just about been said; but I for one would have assumed that folk music was Hey Noddy No or plummy voiced singers singing sanitized songs with a piano, and I certainly would never have devoped an interest.


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: goatfell
Date: 21 Jun 11 - 02:30 PM

we would never got the beatles or any of the rock/pop groups if it wasn't for LD


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: greg stephens
Date: 21 Jun 11 - 02:48 PM

I think the success of Lonnie's Rock Island Line was the most important British cultural event in my life time(so far!). When you think of the explosion of music that it gave rise to, turning Britain from a feeble backwater into centre stage musically speaking. Amazing what you can with three chords and a washboard(though not a tea chest in Lonnie's case).


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: banjoman
Date: 22 Jun 11 - 05:36 AM

One of the first records I remember listening to was Rock Island Line. I saw LD at the Empire in Liverpool when Chris Barber was playing double bass in his band. I also recall seeing the Chris Barber band some time later and remember his banjo player doing some sort of solo. Chris immediatley said something like "Sit down -I remember what happened to the last banjo player in this band who stood up and did a solo"
I think that LD also had at least one record banned by the BBC
"Diggin. my potatoes??"


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 22 Jun 11 - 01:33 PM

No Lonnie Donegan thread would be complete without acknowledgment of Denny Wright, the guitarist who provided some of the most stunning lead breaks ever on Lonnie's hits. Sadly, there are, AFAIK, no videos extant of LD and Denny Wright playing together.

I saw Lonnie play once, in 1964 in the Place Jazz Club in Edinburgh, in 1965. I went along primarily to see Denny Wright, but to my intense disappointment, he was no longer in the band, in fact my recollection is that there was no lead player, just a bass player and a drummer. I do remember that LD did some fancy work on his acoustic guitar (a small bodied Martin as I recollect) he was no slouch as a guitar player.


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: GUEST,Warren James
Date: 22 Jun 11 - 04:39 PM

I was born in 1982 and was 13 when my grand-dad got his first CD player and one CD that contained various artistes from the 60s and there were 2 Lonnie Donegan songs... Dustman and Have a Drink on Me. I heard the Banjo on Have a Drink and that was it, i wanted that instrument and to make that sound. The singers voice was so fluid, clear, excitable with a country range that spoke to me... I loved the solo on guitar and everything about it!!!

That was it, I got more... more tracks, more CD's and the more I listened the more I got excited by this performers energy, to me in 1994 he was modern, his blues was modern! I had to have a guitar, then I got the Putting On The Donegan VHS that was released and i got my first glimps at this black and white performer making Elvis look relaxed! I had to get a guitar! I sat staring at the screen trying to work out the chord shapes. The I progressed and bought an Electric guitar and found this Lonnie guy had worked with Albert Lee... then I had to play like Albert and I think i developed my own style very well.

I left school in 1999 and i went pro as a musician performing with Paul Leegan & The Legends who by all intent the longest running tribute to Lonnie Donegan blending his songs with the modern day. I've toured every theatre in the UK in the last 10 years with the Lonnie Donegan tribute or the Johnny Cash Story. I've performed at The Grand Order of Water Rats and just recently performed to a great attended Liverpool Empire where Lonnie once performed with John, Paul, George and Ringo in the audience.

So the question is... What if Lonnie had not existed?

Well I wouldn't have had the pleasure of doing what I do and what I continue to do; keeping all this old music alive and respecting it for what it is - wonderfull!!

I wouldn't be making and recreating the music that made so many people happy and continues to do so.

I wouldn't be helping to keep the names of these performers just that little bit further forward in the minds of the people who made them and in some cases have forgotten them.

I met Lonnie so many times and I thought he was incredible as a performer and lovely as a man (others may differ but I speak as I find). I thank him for his teachings and i thank all those who went before me, musicians are a brotherhood a fraternity of their own - the good ones create lessons and teachings which get passed on through generations and will always be heard hidden away somewhere in future music... strip away the distortion of the Sex pistols and there is Eddie Cochran who was Sid Vicious' hero...

GOD BLESS LONNIE DONEGAN for as we all know in the UK ALL ROADS LEAD TO LON... prior too him they have many paths that go in many directions... he pulled them together just long enough to spark the gas!!!


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: Arthur_itus
Date: 22 Jun 11 - 05:12 PM

What a briliant post Warren and I support you entirely.


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: Arthur_itus
Date: 22 Jun 11 - 05:22 PM

Steve & Muff Winwood used to sing Lonnie's songs at the youth club I used to got to, before they formed Spencer Davis Group.

I saw Spencer doing an interval support at a jazz club in Erdington Bham, just before the group was formed and all he did was Lonnie Donegan songs.


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Jun 11 - 05:56 PM

Warren James ~~ Thank you for such an inspiring post.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
From: tritoneman
Date: 22 Jun 11 - 06:00 PM

I totally agree with Murray Mcleod about acknowledging Denny Wright. He was a superb guitar player!

Graham


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