Preview – Rock Island Line: the Song That Made Britain Rock

Lonnie Donegan

Billy Bragg examines the history of the song that transformed British music in the 1950s.

In 1956, “King of Skiffle” Lonnie Donegan reached the top ten of the British charts with his version of Rock Island Line. The song would go on start the craze for skiffle music which would lay the foundations of British popular music.

Bragg looks at the origins of the song that was created in the 1920s, the first people to perform the song, how Lonnie Donegan made it popular among the Brits, and how his performances in Liverpool would inspire some locals to set up another skiffle group called The Quarrymen, who members included several future members of The Beatles.

Rock Island Line: the Song That Made Britain Rock is on BBC Four at 21.00.

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