Irish singer and entertainer Val Doonican passed away this morning at the age of 88.
His family have shared that he died peacefully at a nursing home in Buckinghamshire.
Doonican came from a musical family and first started his entertainment career in 1951 when he moved to England to join the group The Four Ramblers. Fellow singer Anthony Newley persuaded him to go solo after the band supported him on tour in the early 60s.
In 1963 he was booked to appear on Sunday Night At The Palladium. As a result of his performance, Doonican was offered his own BBC show, which ran from 1965 for over 20 years. He became known for his trademark rocking chair, colourful knitwear and penchant for comical songs. Regulars on the show included Bernard Cribbins, Bob Todd, the Norman Maen Dancers, the Mike Sammes Singers, and Kenny Woodman’s orchestra. As it was a variety show, it gave a number of other performers early publicity, such as controversial Irish comedian Dave Allen.
The Palladium performance also kick-started his recording career, with most of his releases coming through the Decca, Pye and Philips labels. 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”, “If The Whole World Stopped Loving”, and “Morning”; 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.
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.
He stopped performing in 2009, and said of his post-TV years, “I became a bit dated but everyone comes to the end of their time. I spent my later years on what I called ‘the seniors tour’, taking things easy and not being mutton dressed up as lamb.”
To hear The Very Best Of Val Doonican, listen to the playlist below: