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Lonnie Donegan king of skiffle
Skiffle to Rock n' Roll






Scotland's contribution to Pop music began around 1954 when Glasgow born Lonnie Donegan scored a massive hit with his skiffle version of an American blues song. Leadbelly's 'Rock Island Line' made him the most successful British recording artiste prior to Cliff Richard. With limited instrumentation of bass, washboard and guitar, 'skiffle,' a fusion of UK folk, Negro blues, country and western and rock 'n' roll, was different from the slick productions of the major record companies. It was raw, cheap and easy-to-play music that created a craze for guitars and transformed popular music.
Since WW II teenagers felt threatened and disillusioned by the nuclear legacy left by the older generation who sought their escape in the swing music of a bygone age. Popular music was dominated by American hit songs performed by stylish ex-dance band vocalists and those which had evolved from the prewar variety music halls. Young urban Scots however, tired of the banality of popular songs about illusory handsome men and dream girls, seized eagerly on skiffle songs about real people; such as railwaymen, cotton-pickers or outlaws.

Lonnie Donegan

Jimmy MacGregor

Nancy Whisky

Jackie Dennis

Clyde Valley Stompers

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The only other Scot to have had a UK pop hit in the mid-fifties was accordionist Jimmy Shand in 1955 with his traditional country dance classic 'Blue Bell Polka.' Donegan and Shand's hits define the twin strands influencing popular music in Scotland at the dawn of the Pop era, the emergence of modern American and decline of traditional Scottish music.

Between the mid 50's and 60's a few Scots figured in the UK pop charts. Both the Clyde Valley Stompers and Jackie Dennis had hits. Young urban Scots seeking liberation from the past and self expression in the present found it in rock 'n' roll, often inspired by records brought home from the US by merchant seamen. Another pop source was the cinema where movies like 'Rock Around The Clock' had Scots teenagers jive dancing in the aisles and streets, and the cult of Elvis and Brando encouraging teenagers to discard the parental yoke.

Jimmy Shand Ace accordion player

Jimmy Shand


American music contained ingredients Scots have always identified with; a strong dance beat, quality voices and instrumental virtuosity. However, in a land where every town had a dance hall, live music took precedence over records with popularity coming through local renditions of dance classics.

In 1958 'Hoots Mon' a rousing big band version of the traditional pipe tune 'One Hundred Pipers' scored a major hit making it a sensation at home and abroad. Lord Rockinghams Eleven were fronted by Elgin Courant journalist Harry (Henry) Robertson and with the hook line 'Hoots Mon! there's a moose loose aboot this hoose' they profited from the memory of Harry Lauder.

Lord Rockinghams Eleven


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