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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Roger Rettig Happy Birthday, Anthony James Donegan (26) RE: Happy Birthday, Anthony James Donegan 26 Mar 05

I know this is an old thread - maybe I should have started a new one...

There are several references to the simplicity of the music that Lonnie Donegan pioneered, and the makeshift nature of the instruments (tea-chest bass, washboards, etc) involved.

It is true that there was a washboard on 'Rock Island Line', but it wasn't a tea-chest bass - it was a real one! Thereafter, Lonnie Donegan and his band were known for the very professional gloss that was his trademark.

They were among the best players in the country at the time (Nick Nichols, Micky Ashman and Denny Wright - later replaced by Jimmy Currie) and their instruments were top-of-the-line Martin, Gibson or Gretsch guitars, as well as proper double-bass and full pro drum-kit.

They appeared on stage in full evening-dress, with Lonnie's dress-suit being a shiny mohair of some sort. (There's a story that Lonnie always insisted on appearing on the '6-5 Special' TV Show in dresswear, overiding compere Pete Murray's objections that it was too formal for a teenage show.)

No - the rest of the 'competition' ('though it's questionable that Donegan ever HAD any real competition in the skiffle world) certainly played washboards and cheap guitars, but Lonnie Donegan maintained the very highest standards in every respect.

Maybe us wannabes were able to approximate some of his songs on our primitive instruments (or at least get the chords right!), but no-one got close to his consummate musicianship or the professionalism that typified the act that he presented on the Variety stages and TV studios of the 1950s.

He certainly started MY love affair with Martin Guitars that continues to this day......

Roger Rettig

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