Val Doonican, Irish singer, dies at 88
2 July 2015
- From the section Entertainment & Arts
Irish singer and TV entertainer Val Doonican has died aged 88.
His family said he died “peacefully” at a nursing home in Buckinghamshire. He had not been ill, but his daughter said his “batteries had just run out”.
The performer was a regular fixture on TV with The Val Doonican show which ran on the BBC from 1965 to 1986, featuring his own performances and guest artists.
He was also rarely out of the UK charts in the 1960s and ’70s with songs like Walk Tall and Elusive Butterfly.
In the album chart, he had five successive top 10 records and even knocked The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band off the top spot in 1967 with Val Doonican Rocks, But Gently.
In a statement, his family said: “He was a wonderful husband, father and grandfather and will be greatly missed by family, friends and his many fans.”
Sir Bruce Forsyth paid tribute to Doonican saying: “I’m very, very shocked because Val was, in his day, one of the biggest ever stars on British television.”
“With his famous sweater and his lovely relaxed style… there was nobody bigger than Val,” he told ITV News.
Irish entertainer Roy Walker also paid tribute, saying: “You were a joy to work with. A real ‘star’. Love you man.”
Irish comic Adrian Walsh tweeted: “Spent four years as opening act for Val Doonican. He was one of the greats on and of [sic] stage. Thank you for your friendship.”
Born in Waterford, Ireland, Doonican’s career took off after he was booked to appear on Sunday Night at the Palladium in 1963.
It led him to be offered his own BBC show – for which he became known for his trademark rocking chair, colourful jumpers and cardigans – and kick-started his recording career.
He filmed some 25 Christmas specials, which Doonican told The Express in 2013 he “couldn’t bear to watch”.
“They became something of a national institution, attracting audiences of up to 19 million. It felt embarrassing seeing myself. We’d sit as a family enjoying ourselves but as soon as my show started, I’d nip off to another room,” he said.
His other hits included The Special Years, What Would I Be and If The Whole World Stopped Loving. He also sang the theme song for the film Ring of Bright Water.
Doonican stopped performing in 2009 after more than 60 years in showbusiness.
He is survived by his wife Lynn, daughters Sarah and Fiona and grandchildren Bethany and Scott.
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