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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Roger Rettig Lonnie Donegan (184* d) RE: Lonnie Donegan 24 Mar 05

(The lyric is - '...get your ticket - not chicken - at the station for the Rock Island Line.')

Lonnie's first Martin guitar was a mahogany-bodied 0-17 model. This guitar is seen in the very earliest photos. Lonnie talked of paying six pounds for this guitar from a stall in Walthamstow. Possible, I suppose, 'though Lonnie was guilty of telling different versions of some events...

After that he always had Martin '000' models. As he went to the States in '56, it's probable that he acquired his next one there. This was a herringbone 000-28 - certainly pre-war. The cover of 'Lonnie Donegan Showcase' has him playing a 000-21 - this guitar can be seen on the cover of 'Lonnie' as well (fitted with a DeArmond sound-hole pick-up). Then he had another 000-28 (non-herringbone). This was a highly visible guitar - it's in the 'Six Five Special' film, and in many publicity shots. It's distinguished by the white binding at the top and bottom of the instrument.

He told me that he gave one of his '000s' to Adam Faith, but it was destroyed when it was in Faith's car during an accident. (?)

For whatever reason, Lonnie got another 000-28 (this was a 1967 model) and this is the guitar he used principally until his death. The last two weeks of his final tour saw him playing his new LD 'signature' model (000-28LD). He always used to say to me - 'Martins should give me a bloody guitar after all this time!' Well, they finally did.

There's no question that Martin's visibilty in the UK was considerably enhanced by Donegan's brand-loyalty. His devotion to them was probably more to do with his hero-worship of the various US blues/folk artists that used a Martin. Big Bill Broonzy always had his 000-28 - I believe this led Donegan to favour this particular model.

Martins weren't imported into the UK until 1960 - but I managed to find an old 000-18 in Lew Davis' shop on Charing Cross Road in 1959. It cost me sixty four Pounds! That was a lot of money then.

Johnny Duncan ('Last Train...') had a Martin D-28 (same general appearance, but a different body-shape to the 000s) and Elvis' first publicity shots showed him with first a D-18, then a D-28. He went to Gibson J200s in '57.

Wally Whyton managed to acquire a 000-28 in the '50s - I think he got that in the States, too.

Is nyone else out there as interested in the guitar side of things as much as I (obviously) am?

I play pedal steel guitar for a living, but I still have a 1927 0-18, a 1947 000-18, and a brand-new Martin Custom Shop '000-28' - I had them make me an exact replica of a 1950 one. I'm afraid that, as proud as Lonnie was of his signature model, I hated it; all that inlay, with 'King of Skiffle', etc, etc. And why sunburst!!!!!?

I'm told that it's exactly as Lonnie asked for it......

Roger Rettig

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