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Lonnie Donegan - The Hit Collection

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Album Review

Lonnie Donegan combined an American folk song with a stripped-down, back-porch jazz dance rhythm to create what eventually became known as skiffle in Britain when “Rock Island Line” was released and took the country by storm in 1954. Donegan went on to turn the same trick with “Cumberland Gap,” “Jack O’Diamonds,” “Tom Dooley,” and other folk tunes through the 1950s up until 1962 — his commercial career ended when skiffle’s nearest and dearest cousin, rock & roll, appeared on the scene, a music Donegan himself supplied a template for with his amped-up versions of old folk and blues tunes. All of the above sides are included in this concise 18-track survey of Donegan's important moment in the sun.


Born: April 29, 1931 in Glasgow, Scotland

Genre: Folk

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

To look at Lonnie Donegan today, in pictures taken 40 years ago when he was topping the British charts and hitting the Top Ten in America, dressed in a suit, his hair cut short and strumming an acoustic guitar, he looks like a musical non-entity. But in 1954, before anyone (especially anybody in England) knew what rock & roll was, Donegan was cool, and his music was hot. He's relatively little remembered outside of England, but Donegan shares an important professional attribute with Elvis Presley,...
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