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Digital Subscriptions > Vintage Rock > Nov/Dec 18 > A Night For Lonnie Donegan

A Night For Lonnie Donegan

Friends, band members, family and fans join together for a fundraising night of skifflin’ in memory of a true pioneer: the great Lonnie Donegan

3SEPTEMBER, UNION CHAPEL, LONDON

PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN McKENZIE

Lonnie Donegan may have left us in 2002, but his music and spirit keeps marching on. Nowhere more so than at this late summer tribute concert in London’s magnificent Union Chapel. Lonnie was, of course, celebrated with the celebratory Rock Island Line tribute concert at the Royal Albert Hall in 2004 – this epic endeavour saw everyone from Chris Barber (who gave Donegan his first break in the music biz) to Van Morrison (who gave Donegan his last encore of sorts with the Skiffle Sessions album) taking the stage.

Tonight’s concert is at a somewhat smaller venue and, while neither Chris or Van are in attendance, there’s an eclectic line-up coming together to pay homage to a musician whose impact was revolutionary.

“I grew up knowing dad played music for a living but I didn’t realise quite how famous dad was until I was much older. To me he was just ‘dad’, the guy who told us if we didn’t eat our greens we’d get them for breakfast! He was my mate and the reason I follow Manchester United is because he did. I loved sitting side of stage and watching the band set up then entertain the audience. Later, dad loved it that I took up music as it meant we could share the pleasure of making music and I played keyboards on his last two tours. Lonnie really was a cheeky chappie type of guy – a lot of fun to be around.”

Why a tribute concert for Donegan in 2018? Peter Donegan, Lonnie’s youngest child and now leader of The Lonnie Donegan Band, has a toddler who suffers from Autism Spectrum Disorder. To ensure Lonnie’s grandson gets the intensive (and expensive) therapy necessary the late Chas Hodges suggested a fundraising concert honouring Lonnie.

Before his untimely death, Chas told Peter he and Dave would happily come and play at said concert – he having learnt to play guitar by studying Lonnie’s hands whenever he saw him on TV. Chas was undergoing chemotherapy at the time of the concert, but there were many other British rockers who answered the call to pay fulsome tribute to this muchcherished music legend.

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