Mudcat Café message #1091043 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #65947   Message #1091043
Posted By: MikeofNorthumbria
12-Jan-04 - 08:54 AM
Thread Name: Lonnie Donegan: Whatcha All Fink Of Him
Subject: RE: Lonnie Donegan: Whatcha All Fink Of Him
What do I think of Lonnie?

As a concert artist he was magnificent. He had a well-crafted stage act, and a superb rapport with his audience. He never gave less than 100% (usually more, if you count the encores). He continued doing this until the very end, winning massive applause from large crowds at Sidmouth, Cambridge and Glastonbury festivals in his final years.   

As an entertainer, he was a real old-time trouper. I still recall his performance in Aladdin at the Chiswick Empire. In those far-off days, chart-topping singers often made guest appearances in a Christmas pantomime. Normally they did a medley of their hits, and took walk-on parts in the rest of the production. Lonnie, however, played a leading comic role with his usual panache, delighting the audience, without upstaging the other actors.   A friend who saw the show on another night told me that at one moment, a large chunk of scenery crashed to the stage, missing Lonnie by inches. Totally unfazed, he sang and ad-libbed jokes in front of the stage curtains until emergency repairs were completed and the show could go on. A genuine professional!

As a recording artist he cut some tracks that were excellent, and many that were good. Others, though still competent, were (to my ears) rather less enjoyable - but even these sold well enough to prove that the public liked them. (And after all, he was doing this for a living, not trying to prove some academic point about the 'real' nature of folk song.)

As an influence, he was uniquely important - "The man without whom…".   He opened doors for many of us who were unaware till then that those doors even existed.   Above all, he showed a whole generation that music didn't always have to be a commodity that we purchased – it could also be an activity that we participated in. By doing this he launched a revolution, and we all owe him a great deal for it.