Unfortunately, Waterford lost another star last week when the great John/Don Duggan passed away to his eternal reward.A former lead singer with The Savoy Showband, he later formed The Partners with his friend, the late Danny Tobin, and they were one of the biggest acts on the cabaret circuit for over 25 years.John was a huge admirer of Elvis Presley and quality country music. The Partners’ eclectic repertoire reflected his tastes and also Danny’s love of big ballads and Ray Charles.
John was a superb hurler who played with Ferrybank, Erin’s Own and Waterford but it was music that mattered most to him because, in the end, it took precedence over hurling although he maintained a lifelong interest in the game about which he was very knowledgeable.John’s first group was The Avengers and he formed it with Nicky Kavanagh and the late Danny O’Neill, all three from Ferrybank.
There then followed several variations of The Avengers with different line-ups before, in a big step, John joined The Savoy Showband where his lifelong friend and partner in music, Danny Tobin was on drums.While with The Savoy, John, re-named Don by management, recorded Bob Dylan’s fabulous song ‘I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight’ and it was a big national hit for them.In the early 1970s, John and Danny quit touring all over Ireland and Britain and formed The Partners. Their duo was one of the most popular acts of the cabaret era for over two decades packing venues in Waterford and all over the South East.
It was to be John’s last band but, during that quarter of a century or so, they were the musical back-drop to literally hundreds of important times for so many individuals and families. They played at engagements, weddings, anniversaries and lots of other important milestones and when people recall those milestones they also fondly remember John and Danny.
However, John did come out of retirement to perform one last time when his friends and admirers in Carrick-on-Suir honoured him for all his years in the business. The band that night, Sunday August 4th, 2013, was John, Steven Travers from The Miami Showband on bass, Tony Egan on keyboards, Liam O’Dwyer on vocals and myself on guitar and back-up vocals. It was a very special night.
John was always a good judge of talent. He recognised early on, before a lot of people, that Bob Dylan was special and he became probably the first artiste in this country to record one of his songs. His early assessment proved correct, especially when, in 2016, Dylan became a Poet Laureate and the Nobel Prize winner in Literature.
Deepest sympathies to John’s wife, Rebecca, and all his loving family.