Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Skiffle or Piffle?

The widow of skiffle king Lonnie Donegan has warned that the families of dead music stars could face financial hardship when royalty payments end. Performers in the UK receive payments from record sales and radio airplay for 50 years after a song is released. But Sharon Donegan has called on MPs to extend the term, and bring it into line with songwriters and composers who get royalties for life, plus 70 years. Ms Donegan said the royalties provided a much-needed income for her, and many others in a similar situation.

Lonnie Donegan was fond of telling people how badly done by he was over the recording of his debut hit, Rock Island Line in 1956. He had received the standard session fee of £3.50, which worked out at 70p per song, for the five he cut that day. He didn’t receive any money in royalties when Rock Island Line sold three million copies in six months. But Lonnie wasn’t always so hard done by. In 1965 he signed a nineteen year-old singer named Justin Hayward to a management and publishing contract with his Tyler Music Company. Justin had been in Marty Wilde’s group and after signing with Lonnie he released a single on Pye and then another on Parlophone. In 1966 Justin joined the Moody Blues and soon began work on their ground breaking Days of Future Passed album. The biggest hit from that album was 'Nights In White Satin', which has charted in Britain three times and reached No.2 on the US Hot 100. The song is published by Tyler Music, Lonnie’s company, and earned the King Of Skiffle an veritable fortune over the years. And it wasn’t just that song, but also most of Justin’s other songs that featured on the Moody Blues million selling albums. Justin apparently tried unsuccessfully to ‘buy back’ his publishing on a number of occasions before Lonnie died in 2002.


David Ross said...

Interesting; I have a theory that, since 1958, Lonnie Donegan is solely responsible for the chewing gum deposits found under school desks. Although there is a counter theory that this disgusting practice was started in 1924 by Ernest Hare & Billy Jones.

This, of course, may be piffle.

Ellee said...

I guess Mrs Donegan should not rely on this as her sole source of income.

Richard Havers said...

Piffle is good, well some of it anyway! I'm still half expecting to receive an ASBO for some I left behind my bedhead in about 1963.

Ellee, I don't think she's going to go hungry.

Jeremy Jacobs said...

Blimey Lonnie Donegan. He ended up living in Margate near my father. ( whose not a dustman)