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His Old Man’s Old Man Was a Dustman: Peter Donegan

by on 12 February 2017

Peter Donegan and the Lonnie Donegan Band

at The Eel Pie Club, The Cabbage Patch, Twickenham, 

 9th February 2017

A review by Cliff Tapstand

Anthony James (Lonnie) Donegan MBE, forever remembered as “The King of Skiffle” died in November 2002, but his legacy lives on through his son, Peter, who like his father before him is a multi-talented musician and songwriter. Not only does he sing like Lonnie, but also plays guitar, mandolin, banjo, harmonica and keyboards.


As a teenager he often played keyboards as a warm up act for his dad’s band, and officially joined them when he was 18 years old. They now perform regularly together, and on their visit to The Eel Pie, Peter was joined by four highly talented musicians, including three who had played with Lonnie; Paul Henry on lead guitar, Nick Payne on saxophone, flute and harmonica, and Chris Hunt on drums, who is a regular performer at the club.  They were joined by Eddie Masters on bass guitar.

The performance kicked off with a fast and furious version of The Battle of New Orleans, which Lonnie released in 1959 and reached number 2 in the hit parade, in spite of being banned by the BBC for un-patriotic language (the British army lost the battle).

There followed a string of old favourites including: Rock Island Line, Cumberland Gap, Midnight Special, Have a Drink On Me, It Takes a Worried Man, Pick a Bale Of Cotton, and of course, My Old Man’s a Dustman.

Thankfully, as far as this reviewer is concerned, we were spared Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour (On the Bedpost Over Night).  I bracket this song along with Chuck Berry’s My Ding-a-Ling, under the heading, Why am I singing this rubbish towards the end of such an illustrious and ground- breaking career??

While the rest of the band had a short break, Peter entertained the large and appreciative audience with stories of his time with Lonnie, and his passion for live music. In Peter’s own words, “I’ve got the best job in the world”.

Peter and the band played a number of his own compositions, which were very well received by the knowledgeable regulars at the club, who recognise a good act when they see one.

They also played a tribute to Lonnie Johnson, the legendary American blues singer who, inadvertently, was responsible for the change in their former leader’s name. It happened in 1952 when ‘Tony’ Donegan was performing with Lonnie Johnson at the Royal Festival Hall.  The compère got a little confused and got their first names mixed up.  Tony liked the sound of that, and from that day became ‘Lonnie’ Donegan.

Peter is a real chip off the old block, and seems to enjoy every second of his time on stage whether playing, singing, or just talking. He has an infectious giggle, a great rapport with his audience, and if you get the chance, go and see him.  Young or old you’ll be in for a great night’s entertainment.

Cliff Tapstand

February 2017


From → Music, Reviews

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