has come up in the recent 'acoustic guitar' thread, and Alan Brookes has mentioned his versions of Leadbelly's and Woody Guthrie's songs.
Lonnie's first big hit was 'Rock Island Line' (1956), and that was the beginning of a long run of top-ten hit records, most of which were reworkings of American folk-songs, blues, spirituals and work-songs. It was a real education for us back then - we'd never heard anything like it - and it's difficult to imagine the same thing happening today! Donegan pre-dated Elvis in Britain, so it was our first exposure to any blues-orientated commercial music.
He had an amazing voice as Alan has said, and he also had a terrific group (including master-guitarist Denny Wright on some of his 'sides'). That first record ('Rock Island Line'), though, was fairly primitive - Lonnie on his Martin, jazz-band leader Chris Barber on bass, and Beryl Bryden on washboard(!!!) - and the 'home-made' nature of it was what inspired thousands of British kids to want to play music
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