Monday 19 August 2019

Obituary: Danny Doyle

One of Ireland's leading balladeers, he first entered the charts in the 1960s, writes Alan O'Keeffe

Acclaimed folk singer Danny Doyle
Acclaimed folk singer Danny Doyle

Alan O'Keeffe

Singer Danny Doyle, who died aged 79, had a number of Irish chart successes as a folk singer.

His hit single Whiskey On A Sunday went to No 1 in Ireland in 1967.

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When he released the classic song about Dublin, In The Rare Auld Times, by composer Pete St John, it knocked ABBA's Take a Chance On Me off the No 1 spot after just one week.

In The Rare Auld Times remained in the charts for 12 weeks. During his career, he played in both Carnegie Hall in New York and in the Albert Hall in London.

Born in Dublin in 1940, Doyle left school at 14 and immersed himself in the music of the ballad groups of the 1960s, including The Clancy Brothers.

He found his voice and his confidence in his own talents during a two-year stint playing in the folk clubs of Britain.

In 1966, he released his first single Step It Out, Mary, which went to No 4 in the Irish charts. He followed it up with the ballad Irish Soldier Laddie.

The following year, Whiskey On A Sunday went to the top of the charts and proved to be his most successful song.

Another song to win widespread popularity was Daisy A Day. In all, he had three No 1s in Ireland and he recorded 25 albums.

In 1972, he formed a band named Music Box with singer Maxi and they toured Ireland's busy ballrooms.

Doyle moved to the US in 1983 and he remained in demand for several years in the thriving Irish-American music scene. He worked extensively with composer and producer Bill Whelan.

Noel Pearson, who was his manager from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, told the Sunday Independent that Doyle had "a unique voice" and a natural talent who would not compromise when it came to his musical performances.

"In the 1980s, it was harder to get work in Ireland and he went to America and they liked him there and he stayed and he worked non-stop," he said.

His 1993 album Emigrant Eyes was a collaboration with his sister Geraldine, a comedian popular in Australia, which drew on the experiences of Irish immigrants in America in the 1840s.

He settled in the state of Virginia with his wife Taffy. He had retired from full-time performing in recent years. In 2007, he had to cancel a number of concerts to undergo surgery. He died in the US last Wednesday.

He was widely acclaimed as one of Ireland's best balladeers.

The band, The Irish Rovers, stated on social media: "We lost one of the greats in the Irish folk music world.

"An old friend of the Rovers, a true troubadour, a beautiful voice, a gentleman and a gentle man, Danny Doyle. Our hearts are with Taffy and the family. You will be missed old friend."

Sunday Independent

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