Val Doonican: 'One Of The Greats' Dies

Val Doonican: 'One Of The Greats' Dies

Irish singer and entertainer Val Doonican has died "peacefully" at the age of 88, his family said.

The crooner was a big star in the 1960s and was a regular fixture on the BBC with the Val Doonican Show, which featured singing performances by other artists.

He was married to Lynnette with whom he had two daughters, Sarah and Fiona.

In a statement the family said: "He was a wonderful husband, father and grandfather and will be greatly missed by family, friends and his many fans."

Sarah told The Guardian: "Until 87, he was as fit as a flea. It was just old age, I'm afraid - the batteries ran out."

Doonican was known for his laid-back armchair style and easy-going manner which was in contrast to the pop groups which were becoming popular at the time.

He became one of the most popular and best-selling singers of his generation and went on to record more than 50 albums, sales of which register in the millions.

He was in the chart many times with singles and albums, appearing on Top Of The Pops to sing hits such as Walk Tall, The Special Years, What Would I Be, and Elusive Butterfly.

His TV shows ran for 24 years, from humble beginnings to being the mainstay of the Saturday night TV schedules.

His Christmas Eve shows became a national institution.

He was also known for his trademark knitted sweaters.

Michael Valentine Doonican was born in Waterford on 3 February, 1927, the youngest of eight children.

His family was poor, but he often spoke of the great happiness of his childhood.

When he was 14, his world was shattered by his father's death from cancer of the throat and mouth.

He felt compelled to leave school to help support the family, and started work immediately in an orange box factory.

Doonican had been writing music from a young age and joined The Four Ramblers and moved to England.

But he was urged to go solo when he attracted attention for his guitar playing and singing songs such as Paddy McGinty's Goat.

He secured a weekly radio show with the BBC Light Programme.

Doonican continued to play cabaret and occasional theatre gigs but despite being a regular radio personality, no recording contracts were forthcoming.

But he was spotted at a concert by Val Parnell, and booked on to Sunday Night At The London Palladium.

That eight-minute spot, he said, changed his life.

By the Monday, there were recording contracts and TV show offers flooding into his manager's office.

As he said many times, he was "an overnight success after 17 years".

Northern Irish Catchphrase presenter Roy Walker said: "RIP Val Doonican. You were a joy to work with. A real 'STAR'. Love you man. Roy."

Adrian Walsh, an Irish comedian who opened for Doonican, said on Twitter: "Spent four years as opening act for Val Doonican, he was one of the greats on and off stage. Thank you for your friendship. Rest in peace Sir."