News > Lonnie Donegan Dead

Added on 04-Nov-2002

Musician 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 and was due to play a concert in Stoke, Staffordshire, on Monday.

One of the most successful recording artists of the pre-Beatles era, he had three number one hits and numerous top 10 entries in the UK chart.

Donegan received an MBE for services to pop music

The star was with his wife and son when he died in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, on Sunday at about 0230 GMT. He had been complaining of back trouble shortly before he fell ill.

Donegan was staying with friends during his tour. His last performance was in Nottingham - the first city he played when he became a star in 1957.

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

His more recent work with Van Morrison led to a resurgence in his career. His skiffle music was a mixture of folk, jazz, gospel and the blues.

Dire Straits guitarist Mark Knopfler, who recently played with Donegan in London, called him one of his greatest musical influences.

A great musician and entertainer

Barry, England

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Elvis recorded one of his songs, I'm Never Gonna Fall in Love Again, and in 1978 Sir Paul McCartney was the driving force behind a tribute album featuring appearances by Sir Elton John and Brian May.


Donegan has been described as Britain's first musical superstar and his skiffle music swept through the country in the 1950s.

His first single sold three million copies

His single Rock Island Line, released almost as an afterthought by Decca Records, sold three million copies after being played on BBC radio and gave him a hit in the UK and the US.

He quickly became a star in both countries although he had only ever wanted to be a jazz banjo player.

In May this year he had heart surgery in London and seemed to have been on the mend, although he had suffered from cardiac trouble since the 1970s.

Christened Anthony James, the star changed his name after a master of ceremonies confused him with the American guitarist Lonnie Johnson, and the name stuck.

He was married three times and has seven children.

A private funeral service is expected although will there will be a public memorial service later.


Submitted by: greenoff

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