This is one of the more interesting appearances on The Voice UK. In 2019, Peter Donegan sang Bless the Broken Road by Rascal Flatts for his blind audition. Despite being in good voice, he only got one chair turn – that of Sir Tom Jones. This was the most important chair for Peter Donegan. When Jones asked if he was related to the late great king of skiffle music, Lonnie Donegan, Peter replied, “He’s my father.” Tom Jones then spoke of his friendship with Lonnie and the song Lonnie wrote for him.
After expressing his surprise that Donegan had such a young son, Jones proposed that they perform I’ll Never Fall In Love Again together. Released by Jones in 1967 (UK #2), the song was still part of Jones’ shows. Peter agreed to play it on the piano, his primary instrument and the instrument he played in his father’s band from the age of 18. Jones sang the first verses before inviting Donegan to join in the singing. Speaking to the press, Jones said “That was real” and not a set up. Let’s watch
Coach will.i.am, responded, grinning: “That was magical. Just all the things that happened in the world for that to happen. Even if you go back to the 60s when his dad wrote the song for Tom Jones, and had the baby to all come together to make that magical moment.” Jones added, “There’s never been anything like that. If it was like a movie.” To add to the drama, in the Battle Round Jones had to choose between Donegan and Deana Walmsley who sang a duet of Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love.
Both delivered impressive performances. Some viewers claimed to have cried, others suggested the two form a duo. Jones chose Walmsley prompting this comment: “That’s the hallmark of a brilliant judge. Tom Jones was Peter’s dad’s friend but he still went with Dina. No favouritism.” I’m pleased to report that Peter Donegan is furthering his career in music after The Voice. But who was his dad, Lonnie, and why is he such a big deal in the history of British popular music. This delightful video is informative.
The video does a lot of the heavy lifting of showing who Lonnie Donegan was. Lonnie Donegan’s personality shines through, one gets a synopsis of his career, and, as a bonus, the video includes a young Peter Donegan. Do remember that the excerpt of Rock Island Line shown in the video was recorded over twenty years after Donegan had a hit with it in 1954. Also note that this later version features the great Irish guitarist Rory Gallagher.
Donegan had 31 UK top 30 hit singles, including a run of 24 in a row and three #1s. In the States he had two top ten hits. Moreover his stripped-down and up-tempo skiffle music directly influenced British bands from the Beatles and the Kinks to the Sex Pistols And The Clash. Donegan’s use of British accents and vernacular, as well as the vaudeville influences in his music, were also influential on these bands. When Lonnie Donegan died in November 2002, Paul McCartney said: “He was the first person we had heard of from Britain to get to the coveted No. 1 in the charts, and we studied his records avidly. We all bought guitars to be in a skiffle group. He was the man.” As a treat, we’re going to play out with Lonnie Donegan singing his 1960 novelty hit (and UK #1), My Old Man’s A Dustman. If this song wasn’t an influence on Ian Dury, I’ll eat my rhythm stick.
If you would like to see more from Peter Donegan, you can subscribe to his YouTube channel. You can also visit his official website for more information.