Mudcat Café message #2989659 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #132214   Message #2989659
Posted By: GUEST
19-Sep-10 - 09:11 AM
Thread Name: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?
Subject: RE: What If Lonnie Donegan had not existed?

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.