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The son of a bicycle shop owner, Joe Dolan is one of the most successful vocalists in Ireland. The youngest of eight children, Dolan was born into a musical family. As a youngster, he often played washboard to accompany his sisters' singing. Leaving home after losing his father at the age of eight and his mother when he was 15, Dolan served an apprenticeship as a newspaper compositor for the Westmeath Examiner. Music, however, continued to attract Dolan's attention. After performing with his brother, Ben, on the dancehall circuit, he joined the Drifters Showband when he completed his apprenticeship in 1964. His first single, a cover of Del Shannon's "Answer to Everything," reached number four on the Irish charts. The only Irish singer to reach the Top Ten in the 1960s, ‘70s, ‘80s, and '90s, Dolan was a constant presence on the hit parade of the Emerald Isle. His many hits include "I Love You More and More Everyday," "My Own Peculiar Way," "Aching Breaking Heart," "Pretty Brown Eyes," "Tar and Cement," "The House with the Whitewashed Gable," "Love of the Common People," and "The Westmeath Bachelor." Scoring an international hit with "Make Me an Island," which topped the music charts of 14 countries, he went on to reach the European Top Ten in 1969 with such tunes as "Teresa," "You're Such a Good Looking Woman," "It Makes No Difference," and "Falling in Love."
Collaborating with Italian songwriter and producer Robert Danova, and songwriter Peter Yellowstone, Dolan had his greatest success when he wrote and recorded the million-selling hit "Lady in Blue" in 1975. Continuing to work with Danova and Yellowstone, he scored hits with "Crazy Woman," "I Need You," "Sister Mary," "Sixteen Brothers," "My Love," "You Belong to Me," "Most Wanted Man in the U.S.A.," and "Hush Hush Maria."
Becoming the first western artist to perform in the former Soviet Union, in 1978, Dolan made his North American debut, two years later, when he spent two months performing at the Silverbird Hotel in Las Vegas. He returned for a six-week engagement in 1981.
Launching his own label, Gable Records, in the early '90s, Dolan recorded a Top 20 hit single, "Ciara," in 1993, and an album, Endless Magic, that reached the ninth chart position, in 1997. He recorded a chart-topping hit, "Good Looking Woman," with puppet Dustin the Turkey.
Dolan has continued to be in touch with contemporary music. His 1998 album, Joe's 90's, included interpretations of songs by Blur, Oasis, and Pulp, while 21st Century Joe, released the following year, featured versions of David Bowie, U2, R.E.M., and Bruce Springsteen tunes.