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Daniel O'Donnell

It is one the mysteries of modern culture - how has Daniel O'Donnell such a huge and fervent following? SIMON WILSON, once called " a nasty little boy" by one of his fanatical followers, tried to find out from the man himself...

IN recent years the EG mailbag has bulged many times but none more so than when we mention Daniel O'Donnell.
Particularly when we're writing anything mildly negative.
Letters, e-mails and comments on our website came from across the world when I reviewed one of his shows and wondered what fans saw in this unremarkable easy listening phenomenon.
"You nasty little boy, why don't you fall off a pier," said one.
"God still loves you," said another.
Whether he was aware of my review is unclear when I catch up with him in the US but he's reserved and talking very softly.
Is he tired?
"No, I'm fine. I'm doing a show today that's why I don't strain my voice to speak very loud."
It probably doesn't help dragging up the episode of Father Ted which featured the character Eoin McLove, a singer adored by housekeeper Mrs Doyle for his boy-ish innocence and puppy cuddling. It was clearly lampooning O'Donnell.
"I didn't. No, I've never seen it."
It's very funny.
He's not convinced but he perks up when asked about his fans. Does he understand his appeal?
"I'm very lucky that people enjoy it and want to come and see us and want to have the albums and DVDs. I'm lucky that's how it's worked out."
Is a lot of it down to the way he treats them: staying for hours after a show talking to fans and even phoning them when they've lost a husband or family member?
"I meet people because I enjoy meeting people. I suppose I'm in a very privileged position that you know, a phone call costs me nothing but it might mean a lot to somebody.
"You have to remember that the audience that has supported me have allowed me to have a wonderful life."
The DD massive are among few music fans who religiously camp outside venues for tickets, sometimes up to five days.
"It's incredible. I suppose people like to be down the front and part of what's going on, on the stage.
"I'm very humbled by it. I wish they didn't have to do that."
He also wishes they didn't give him so many gifts.
"I try to encourage them not to give me anything and just give to charity.
"In the past I got lots of things and I really don't need anything. They give enough by coming to shows."
What puzzles me is that, while Daniel O'Donnell is the antithesis of punk, at 46 he is the same age as original punks such as The Clash, The Sex Pistols and The Stranglers.
Was he aware of punk when he was growing up? Did it not make it to his hometown?
"Oh, it had of course but I enjoyed the type of music that I chose to do. That was my reason for doing it. When I started out, a different type of music would have been acceptable for me to choose but I felt I'd be more fulfilled doing what I am doing."
He's never been to a rock gig, only ever seeing artists of similar ilk.
"My two favourites would be Loretta Lynn and Cliff Richard. I love Cliff."
The Loretta Lynn album she did with Jack White (Van Lear Rose) is fantastic.
"Well she has many other fantastic albums, too," he says with a soft laugh.
"She got a lot of credibility because Jack whateverhisname was involved but Loretta had made her claim long before him. I'm not taking from what he did but you know, she's a tremendous artist and has been for almost 40 years."

Daniel O'Donnell will be appearing at the Trent Fm Arena on December 3 though tickets won't go on sale until the autumn.

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