Features 23 hit parade winners if you count 5 sets of double A-Sided hits. Whichever way you put it between January 1956 and August 1962 Lonnie Donegan “The King Of Skiffle” was the most influential recording artist prior to The Beatles. He was also the first male UK artist to make the U.S. top 10 twice. Steeped in traditional jazz, he was a guitarist in a skiffle band before a spell in the army saw him drumming in the Wolverines Jazz Band. After his discharge from the army he played banjo with Ken Colyer and then Chris Barber.
Before Lonnie Donegan’s emergence in early 1956 there weren’t any home grown teenage idols and no real teenage music to speak of. Lonnie was to change all that becoming in effect the first modern pop star. No previous British performer had come close to the energy and excitement that Lonnie brought to the scene. More remarkable was the fact that he had achieved it playing music from American folk and Blues in origin. It was however music that the younger generation were hearing something that they felt the energy and related to and wanted to emulate. Pretty soon Skiffle began to take a hold and Skiffel groups started springing up in youth clubs, church halls and in the front parlours of parents houses. Donegan’s music inspired a legion of teenagers to form
skiffle combos, with friends playing broomstick tea chest bass, washboards and other instruments made up from household implements. This collection features a series of EP released under the title ‘Lonnie Donegan Hit Parade’ These Early EP’s contained a large proportion of the hits of the day, indeed all bar five of the tracks featured were either on double ‘A’ sided singles or stand
Lonnnie was to embark on his first record-breaking variety tour of Britain in the autumn of 1956. Three months before the tour the Glaswegian born folk singer had been playing banjo with a jazz band, a banjoist who also sang. His meteoric rise to stardom in those twelve hectic weeks had been down to his astonishing sales of his first three solo singles, politely called gramophone records. From the very first house of the first night on the tour had audiences cheering, the whistles, stamping and clapping along with shouts for requests for four tunes – the four tracks on the first volume in ‘The Hit Parade’ series and the first four tracks on this Extended Play collection. The Hit Parade Vol. II followed in the summer of 1957 and coincided with Lonnie’s return from his second
triumphant tour of the United States, his star billing at The London Palladium and the beginning of his third variety tour in ten months. It featured the massive #1 ‘Cumberland Gap’ which had huge advance orders and it was a genuine ‘Pop’ hit. Volume III was released in October ’57 and the formula repeated right up to Vol. 8 in 1961, all with their share of the hits.
The 1960 number one hit ‘My Old Man’s A Dustman (Ballad Of A Refuse Disposal Officer)’ raised the bar by entering the charts at #1 on the back of advance orders. We would have to wait for the sixties explosion of The Beatles before British pop music would become an even greater influence and on a world stage - ‘The British Invasion’ Born out of the skiffle era and the belief of a generation that felt they too could be in a band, after all that’s exactly what happened to John Lennon and the Quarrymen. Year after year it seemed that Lonnie was able to sit back and watch his singles storm the charts and the collected EP sides cover those hits between 1956 and 1961