LONDON (AP) – Lonnie Donegan, a musician whose “skiffle” sound inspired John Lennon and Pete Townshend to learn to play guitar, died Nov. 3 in England at age 71.

Donegan’s hits included “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor (on the Bedpost Overnight),” “My Old Man’s A Dustman” and “Rock Island Line,” but he may have been more important to the music world for inspiring young talents to imitate and then eclipse his success.

Donegan, born Anthony Donegan in Glasgow in 1931, was a fan of American country, folk and blues music, and changed his name as a tribute to bluesman Lonnie Johnson.

Skiffle music, which Donegan introduced to Britain in the 1950s, was a mixture of styles that traced its roots to 1920s America, blending jug band, acoustic, folk, blues and country and western styles. Donegan absorbed a wide range of music from across the Atlantic, including the Andrews Sisters, Glenn Miller, Louis Armstrong, Josh White, Bessie Smith and Leadbelly.

While he was with the Chris Barber Jazz Band, the group made a recording for Decca Records of a few of Donegan’s skiffle tunes, including “Rock Island Line.”

The album was a hit but the single release of “Rock Island Line” was a phenomenon, spending 22 weeks on the British chart and breaking into the top 20 in the United States. The single was credited to “The Lonnie Donegan Skiffle Group,” and he was a star.

Skiffle was simple and cheap, apparently within the ability of anyone, regardless of musical talent. All that was needed was a guitar, a snare drum, jugs, a washboard or a standup bass made from a broom handle attached to an empty tea chest – and two chords.

“Rock Island Line” inspired two young Liverpudlians, John Lennon and George Harrison, to take up the guitar. A year later, Lennon’s skiffle group, The Quarrymen, was playing at a church fete near Liverpool when 15-year-old Paul McCartney introduced himself.

Pete Townshend, The Who’s windmilling guitar player, started out as leader of The Detours, a skiffle group also featuring Who vocalist Roger Daltrey.

Elton John, Ringo Starr and Queen’s Brian May paid tribute by playing on Donegan’s 1978 album “Puttin’ on the Style.”

Donegan appeared with Van Morrison, who started his career in a Belfast skiffle band called The Sputniks, and they teamed up for a 1999 recording, “Skiffle Sessions.”

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