Ken Dodd Biography

8 November 1927, Liverpool, England. Primarily one of Britain’s all-time great stand-up comedians, Dodd has also had a successful recording career singing romantic ballads in a warm mezzo-tenor voice. His only comedy record - as the Diddy Men in 1965 - was a flop. He grew up in Liverpool and sang in a church choir before developing a comedy act as Professor Yaffle Chuckabutty, Operatic Tenor and Sausage Knotter, in which he sang comic versions of well-known songs. Dodd worked in sales before becoming a professional comic in 1954, playing theatres and summer shows at Blackpool’s Central Pier, where he topped the bill in 1958. This led to appearances at the London Palladium and a television series in the 60s. Like other comedians of his generation, Dodd was a competent singer and frequently closed his shows with a romantic ballad. In 1960 he signed to Decca Records and recorded ‘Love Is Like A Violin’, a 20s ballad which became a Top 10 hit. This was followed by ‘Once In Every Lifetime’ (1961) and ‘Pianissimo’ (1962). He next switched to EMI’s Columbia label, where Geoff Love was the musical director for the minor hits ‘Still’ (1963) and the exuberant ‘Happiness’ (1964). But the biggest hit of his career was the contrasting ‘Tears’ (1965), a weepie of a ballad produced by Norman Newell. After five weeks at number 1 in the UK, it was displaced by the Rolling Stones’ ‘Get Off Of My Cloud’. A hit for Rudy Vallee in 1931, ‘Tears’ sold nearly two million copies for Dodd and led to six more Top 20 singles in the next few years. Among these were translations of three Italian Ken Dodd hits (‘The River, ‘Broken Hearted’ and ‘When Love Comes Round Again’) and ‘Promises’, based on Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata. During the 80s, Dodd had modest success with ‘Hold My Hand’ (1981). In 1990 he hit the headlines following a controversial High Court action brought by the Inland Revenue, which he won. Four years later, he began a six-part BBC Radio 2 series, Ken Dodd’s Comedy Club, explaining: ‘I’m an intellectual entertainer; at one time there was only me and Noël Coward doing this sort of stuff.’

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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