Val Doonican (born Michael Valentine Doonican, 3 February 1927, in Waterford, Ireland; died 1 July 2015) was an Irish singer of traditional pop and swing and was well-known for his novelty stylised songs. A notably relaxed crooner, Doonican had five successive Top 10 albums in the UK Albums Chart in the 'swinging sixties'. From 1965 to 1986 he was a regular fixture on BBC Television with The Val Doonican Show, which featured his own singing performances and a variety of guest artists.
Doonican started performing in his home town and featured in the first ever television broadcast from Waterford. He then joined a band which toured Ireland playing the drums. In 1951 he moved to England to join another group, The Four Ramblers who toured and performed on BBC Radio shows broadcast from factories. Read more
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, he was offered his own show on BBC television, lasting for over twenty years and moving to Saturday as its popularity grew. 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 "Rafferty's Motor Car", on which he accompanied himself on acoustic guitar. He often wore a cardigan which became a trade mark, and was sometimes compared to American singer Perry Como though Doonican has claimed his main influence was Bing Crosby. As a variety show, there were a number of other acts featured and performers such as Dave Allen had early exposure on the show.
The Palladium performance also kick-started his recording career. Between 1964 and 1973 he was rarely out of the UK Singles Chart, his greatest successes including the singles "Walk Tall", "The Special Years", "What Would I Be", "If The Whole World Stopped Loving", and "Morning"; and the albums 13 Lucky Shades of Val Doonican, and Val Doonican Rocks, But Gently. He also sang the theme song to the film, Ring of Bright Water.
He stopped performing in 2009 and spent a lot of his free time in Spain (where he had a second home).
Doonican's daughter wrote two books entitled Wired to the Moon and Fear of Custard under the name Sarah Kavanagh. Both stories are related to the performance entertainment world.
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