The renowned tenor whose life inspired the 1992 film Hear My Song, Josef Locke was born Joseph McLaughlin in Derry on March 23, 1917. He began singing in local churches at age seven, but at 16 enlisted in the Irish Guards; a stint abroad with the Palestine Police preceded his return to Ireland, where he joined the Royal Ulster Constabulary. Appearances at local variety clubs earned McLaughlin the nickname "The Singing Bobby," and although his early repertoire consisted of opera selections, at the urging of noted tenor John McCormack he soon moved to lighter material instead; impresario Jack Hylton, meanwhile, was responsible for changing the singer's name to Josef Locke.
He released his first recording Santa Lucia in 1947, and later that year issued 'Hear My Song," -- although the latter remained Locke's signature performance throughout his career, his later output combined traditional Irish ballads ("Ill Take You Home Again, Kathleen," "Galway Bay"), operatic material and Italian hits ("Come Back to Sorrento," "Cara Mid"). He also appeared in a handful of film comedies, including 1948's Holidays with Pay and 1949's What a Carry On. For 19 consecutive seasons he appeared at the popular British seaside resort of Blackpool; in 1958, however, at the peak of his fame Locke left England in the wake of tax problems, not returning for close to a decade and settling into self-imposed exile in County Kildare. In the interim, lookalike singer Erik Ellison (dubbed "Mr. X" by fans) impersonated Locke onstage -- the confusion dogged both performers for the remainder of their respective careers. Confining his own performances to charity concerts in the years to follow Locke returned to prominence in 1992 with the release of the movie Hear My Song, a comic fantasy inspired by the singer's life. He died October 14, 1999.
It was the 1980 Eurovision Song Contest that catapulted Johnny into the international spotlight for the first time. His winning song, "What's Another Year, quickly shot to number one on the pop charts throughout Europe, selling more than three million copies. Johnny then made history in 1987, by winning the Eurovision Song Contest for an unprecedented second time. The song, which won him the award, was the hit "Hold Me Now," which was a worldwide hit. He broke his own record at the Eurovision Song Contest, by writing the winning song "Why Me," which was presented by Ireland's Linda Martin in 1993.
For over 30 years Donal Lunny has been the great innovator in Irish music, so much so that people like U2's Bone have taken to calling him simply "the sound man." Each of his groups -- Planxty, The Bothy Band or Moving Hearts has moved the music forward. While maintaining firm contact with it's deepest roots, Donal Lunny is largely responsible for the modernization of Irish music.
Lunny has composed music for theatre, film (This is My Father, starring Aidan Quinn and James Caan) and television (Runway One for BBC, and River of Sound for BBC/RTE). He founded Orcheilteach, Ireland's first large folk orchestra, and was musical director and producer of the Emmy Award-winning series Bringing It All Back Home. His world-class credits as producer include albums for Kate Bush, Paul Brady, Elvis Costello, Mark Knopner, Rod Stewart, Christy Moore, Clannad, and Maire Brennan.
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