Irish singer Val Doonican dies aged 88

Thu Jul 2, 2015 7:40am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters) - Irish singer Val Doonican, a regular fixture on British television in the 1960s and 70s with hits like "Walk Tall" and "The Special Years" has died peacefully at the age of 88, his publicist said on Thursday.

Doonican, who grew up in Waterford on the southeast coast of Ireland, was the star of his own show on the BBC from 1965 to 1986, featuring his own performances and those of guest artists.

He had started writing music from an early age and had been touring as part of various groups with limited success until in 1963 he appeared on Britain's main variety TV program of the day, "Sunday Night at the London Palladium".

That one eight-minute spot transformed his fortunes, prompting Doonican to say many times that he had become "an overnight success after 17 years."

His jumpers became his trademark along with the rocking chair from which he often performed and his show launched numerous artists' careers including that of Irish comedian Dave Allen.

Doonican stopped performing in 2009 after over 60 years in showbusiness. He was a keen golfer and watercolour painter. In June 2011 he was recognized by the Mayor of Waterford and bestowed the Freedom of the City of his home town.

He leaves behind his wife Lynn, daughters Sarah and Fiona and two grandchildren.

(Reporting by Stephen Addison; editing by Michael Holden)