Today we fondly remember Irish easy listening star, Val Doonican, who–according to The Guardian, a British daily newspaper—had “an easygoing, homely charm that enchanted middle England.” Such high-ish praise! A relaxed crooner, he was oft-called the Perry Como of the UK.
Could he be more chill?
Val is not a common male name; it brings to mind Valerie, either Bertinelli or the Steve Winwood song. In truth, the only other masculine Val with which I’m familiar is Mistah Val Kilmer, whose name is not short for anything. In today’s case, however, it’s short for Valentine.
Michael Valentine Doonican was born to a musical family on February 3 (the day the music died, but hadn’t yet), 1927 in Waterford, Ireland. His musical career began by playing in his school band at the age of six, then performing as a duo with buddy Bruce Clarke in 1947. I imagine he was called a hooligan, as it rhymes so easily with his surname.
He appeared in a summer season at Courtown Harbour, County Wexford and was featured on Irish radio and in Waterford’s first-ever television broadcast. In 1951, he moved to England to join the Four Ramblers, touring and performing on BBC Radio shows and on the Riders of the Range serials.
While on tour, Doonican met dancer Lynnette Rae, whom he married in 1962. As women do, she pressured him to leave his group and go solo. And as often happens, she was right to do so. Soon he had his own radio show and concert dates.
His last name lent itself to confusion, as concert-goers yelled, “Doonican! Doonican!” which sounded curiously close to “Do it again! Do it again!” Thus, unintended encores could send a concert into overtime.
In the 60s and 70s, Doonican could be seen on TV in a cardigan, singing songs that sound so Irish, they almost sound made-up. Examples include:
- “Paddy McGinty’s Goat”
- “Delaney’s Donkey”
- “O’Rafferty’s Motor Car”
During the summer of 1971, The Val Doonican Show premiered in the US, airing on ABC on Saturday evenings and paving the way to enchant Middle America as well!
Val Doonican Rocks, But Gently. That is the real name of his album, y’all. And it looks like he’s in a rocker. Get this: It reached Number 1 in the UK Albums Chart in 1968 and knocked the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper off the top of the chart. Take that, Fab Four.
In total, he recorded over 50 albums. The 1966 single release “Elusive Butterfly” reached a UK chart peak of #5 and #3 in Ireland. Anyone remember it?
The Guardian continued its assessment of Doonican with more high praise, as “a perfectionist who knew his limitations but always aimed to be ‘the best Val Doonican possible.'” And isn’t that all we can ask?
Last July, Val Doonican passed at a nursing home in Buckinghamshire at the age of 88. According to daughter Sarah, “Until 87, he was as fit as a flea. It was just old age, I’m afraid — the batteries ran out.” Perhaps they did. But his records? Still going…
Reblogged this on I Don't Get It.
With that pipe in hand he looks more Andy Williams than Perry Como, They were both chill. For the life of me I can not remember his,his show or his tunes;although I think his name does seem familiar.
Oh, yes, I can see that. I asked my folks if they recall him, and they don’t. He must have been forgettable here LOL. As an aside, I hope the cardigan makes a comeback, but not this month while it’s over 100 degrees.
I am listening to him now on YouTube. He has a heck of a voice. Just not so special to beat out the “original crooners”. At least not in the US.
I like his voice, too. I probably wouldn’t have known he wasn’t American by hearing it.
I must have missed his TV show because I was in the army at that time. I remember the Bob Lind version of Elusive Butterfly. BTW, Lind wrote the song and also had a successful hit with it in England.
The Bob Lind one is the default version when you google it. The beginning makes me want to start singing, “It’s not unusual to be loved…” The only Elusive song I knew was the Tammy Wynette “My Elusive Dreams.” And thank you for serving!
I’ve never heard of him. I’ll have to search for him on YouTube.
Well done Kerbey
What a blast from the past! Val Doonican was (alas) a television fixture in my early childhood. He was immensely (mysifyingly) popular in Scotland. It is funny that you mentioned both the rocking chair and the cardigans as those were the details I first remembered when I read his name on your blog title. His crooning was pretty ghastly though I am sure he was a perfectly nice bloke.
When I listened to him on youtube, he sounded good to me. But that was only one song. Well, you are the winner since you know who he is. Nobody I know has heard of him, RIP. So you grew up in Scotland, or just your mum?
No, I am from Scotland. I moved to America in October 2013. To be honest, I have not heard Val Doonican sing in many a long year. Perhaps my adult ears would be more kindly disposed towards him. I just hated his singing when I was a kid.
Well, he probably seemed like an old peep back then. Or a coot. Whichever term of endearment you choose. Young folks like young music. Well, I hope you are enjoying America.
So far I am, yes. Lots of ups and downs and trial and error to settling into a whole other country after decades in the UK but mostly we are happy here.
i only wish vd was still doing well as i’m heading to ireland next week!
“. . . Kerbey turns it up to 11 with her super rockspacular Doonican post . . .”
“. . . think Van Morrison meets The Cardigans as Kerbey rocks our blog world with Val Doonican . . .”
“. . . there’s blood on the dance floor as Kerbey dusts off that rocker and goes all in for some seriously hard core sittin’ and rockin’, and sittin’ and rockin’ some more, and maybe even some tea sippin’ and knittin’ . . .”
Very hardcore sittin’ and a rockin’ right now (I actually am in a rocking Lazy Boy…)
Until today, I didn’t know who Val Doonican was. Now I’m enjoying his musical stylings while working around the house. Very good stuff!!!! Thanks for sharing kerbz!
A good giggle. Ah well, thank you. Dooitagain!
enjoy able music produced by Dooitagain.