«

»

VAL DOONICAN

Val Doonican

BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS
Full Name: Michael Valentine Doonican

Description: Vocalist, UK
Known For: 1966: ”

Music Styles: Traditional pop, Swing

Location: Ireland

Date Born: 3rd February 1927
Location Born: Waterford, Ireland

CONTACT DETAILS
Web Site: Val Doonican’s appearance on This Is Your Life

Other Links: For other links about this entertainer click on the Links button above

YOUTUBE VIDEO

BIOGRAPHICAL PROFILE

Val Doonican

Michael Valentine “Val” Doonican (3 February 1927 – 1 July 2015) was an Irish singer, of traditional pop music and swing who was well known for his novelty stylised songs. From 1965 to 1986 he was a regular fixture on the BBC Television’s schedule with The Val Doonican Show, which featured his own singing performances and a variety of guest artists. The TV shows were produced by Yvonne Littlewood. A notably relaxed crooner, Doonican had five successive Top 10 albums in the UK Albums Chart in the swinging sixties.

Doonican was born in Waterford, Ireland, the youngest of the eight children of Agnes (née Kavanagh) and John Doonican. In 1941 when he was a teenager his father died, so he had to leave De La Salle College, Waterford, to get factory jobs fabricating steel and making orange and grapefruit boxes. In the early days, legendary Dublin music magnate Sean Smyth toured with Val around Ireland. Smyth was a major player in the showband scene and was managing the Clipper Carltons at the time.

Singing career

Doonican was from a musical family and started performing in his hometown and in a summer season at Courtown Harbour. He was then featured on Irish radio and appeared in Waterford’s first-ever television broadcast. Then he played the drums in a band on a tour through Ireland. In 1951 he moved to England to join The Four Ramblers, who toured and performed on BBC Radio shows broadcast from factories.

Val met dancer Lynnette Rae when both she and the Ramblers supported the late Anthony Newley on tour. Newley introduced them and for the first time in his life, Val fell in love. He and Lynn married in the early 1960s and now have two adult daughters, Sarah and Fiona, and two grandchildren, Bethany and Scott.

Doonican sang with the group “The Four Ramblers” and had appeared regularly on BBC radio including ‘The Raiders of the Range’ series. Recognising his talent, Newley persuaded him to leave the singing group and go solo. Soon after his solo career started, he had his own radio show as well as performing in concerts and cabaret. In 1963 he was booked to appear on Sunday Night at the Palladium. As a result of this performance, Bill Cotton, then Assistant Head of Light Entertainment, offered him his own show on BBC Television, lasting for over 20 years. It featured his relaxed crooner style performance, sitting in a rocking chair, as well as a number of comic Irish songs, notably “Paddy McGinty’s Goat”, “Delaney’s Donkey”, and “O’Rafferty’s Motor Car”, on which he accompanied himself on acoustic guitar. Doonican’s songs about O’Rafferty were popular enough for the BBC to publish a book, Val Doonican Tells The Adventures of O’Rafferty, which retold five of the tales, in 1969. He often wore cardigans and jumpers, which became his trademark along with the rocking chairs from which he often performed. He was sometimes compared to American singer Perry Como, though he has claimed his main influence was Bing Crosby. As it was a variety show, it gave a number of other performers early exposure, such as Dave Allen. On 31 December 1976, Doonican performed his hit song “What Would I Be” on BBC1’s A Jubilee of Music, celebrating British pop music for Queen Elizabeth II’s impending Silver Jubilee.

The Palladium performance also kick-started his recording career. Between 1964 and 1973 Doonican was rarely out of the UK Singles Chart, his greatest successes including the singles “Walk Tall”, “The Special Years”, “Elusive Butterfly”, “What Would I Be”, (on Decca) “If The Whole World Stopped Loving” (Pye), and “Morning” (Philips); and the albums 13 Lucky Shades of Val Doonican (Decca), and Val Doonican Rocks, But Gently (Pye) which reached Number 1 in the UK Albums Chart in 1967. The 1966 single release “Elusive Butterfly” reached a UK chart peak of #5 and #3 in Ireland. After a spell with Philips records in the seventies he also recorded for RCA. He also sang the theme song to the film Ring of Bright Water.

He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1970. Eamonn Andrews met him at the 18th green of the South Herts Golf Club as Doonican played a round of golf.

In the United States, The Val Doonican Show aired on ABC Saturday nights at 8:30 p.m. (7:30 pm. Central) from 5 June to 14 August 1971. Regulars included Bernard Cribbins, Bob Todd, the Norman Maen Dancers, the Mike Sammes Singers, and Kenny Woodman’s orchestra. Both American and British acts appeared on the show.

Later life and death

Doonican lived in Buckinghamshire. He stopped performing in 2009 and enjoyed spending his free time in Spain, where he had a second home. He was a keen golfer and a talented watercolour painter. Another hobby he enjoyed was cooking. In June 2011 Val was recognised by the Mayor of Waterford, bestowing on him “The Freedom of the City”. Doonican died on 1 July 2015, aged 88.

In popular culture
He is cited as a member of the eclectic (and fictional) “orchestra” in The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band’s recording, “The Intro and the Outro”, credited “as himself”.
He had a great gift for telling humorous stories about his life and show-business in general. As well as writing three autobiographies he also produced another book entitled The Stories of O’Rafferty.
Doonican’s 1965 song, “I’m Gonna Get There Somehow”, has been used in adverts for Irish toy store Smyths.
Since 2006 his name also been used by the Barnsley comedy-folk band The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican.

An Irish singer. From 1965 to 1986 he was a regular fixture on the BBC Television’s schedule with The Val Doonican Show, which featured his own singing performances and a variety of guest artists. A notably relaxed crooner, Doonican had 5 successive Top 10 albums in the UK Albums Chart in the swinging sixties.

He was from a musical family and started performing in his hometown and in a summer season at Courtown Harbour. He was then featured on Irish radio and appeared in Waterford’s first-ever television broadcast.

Then he played the drums in a band on a tour through Ireland. In 1951 he moved to England to join The Four Ramblers, who toured and performed on BBC Radio shows broadcast from factories.

He eventually went solo and had a radio show as well as performing concerts and cabaret. In 1963 he was booked to appear on Sunday Night at the London Palladium. As a result of this performance, Bill Cotton, then Assistant Head of Light Entertainment, offered him his own show on BBC television, lasting for over 20 years.

LINKS: