Daniel Francis Noel O'Donnell, to give him his full title, was born in the scenic area of Kincasslagh, County Donegal in North-west Ireland on December 12, 1961. Known locally as Daniel Bosco, he was the youngest of five children, sharing a normal childhood with sisters Margo and Kathleen and brothers John and James. He attended the Belcruit National School and a few years back returned there, not to submit some late homework but, to officially open a school extension. On this special occasion Daniel presented the school with one of his many gold discs which boasted the engraving: "Follow your dream because that’s what I did".
His family home was situated below Kincasslagh village and from its back yard you could enjoy the view of Errigal Mountain, Ireland’s second highest peak as well as the roaring Atlantic Ocean. Like any small Irish village, Kincasslagh’s popular tourist landmarks included a bar, a post office and the local shop, where Daniel worked when he was nine. The beaches proved to be the children’s local playground. Nearby was the chapel where Daniel sang as a choirboy and has fond memories of singing there on Christmas night. However Daniel’s first stage appearance came a few years earlier at Kincasslagh Hall when he received the first of many rounds of applause for his rendition of Little Cabin On The Hill.
Even though his sister Margo was now a successful recording star, Daniel had no desire to follow in her footsteps. He first began training to be a teacher before changing to study commerce at Galway College. But his career took a dramatic change when Margo made him an offer he couldn’t refuse and he joined her band him as rhythm guitarist even though, by his own admission, he couldn’t play a note! However he proved to be a quick learner and soon established himself in the band. Eventually he summed up enough courage to try out in front of the microphone whenever Margo took a break.
After two years of performing on the live music circuit, Daniel was growing in confidence and took the brave decision to go solo. He still held down a day job, washing dishes at the Central Hotel in Dublin and managed to save £600 which he used to finance the release of his debut single. A thousand copies of the single, featuring My Donegal Shore and Stand Beside Me, were pressed and Daniel sold them at every opportunity, even once to a bus full of pilgrims on the way to Knock shrine! He formed a couple of bands, firstly Country Fever and then Grassroots which helped him grow in confidence as a performer.
His big break came after performing in front of 70,000 people at the London-Irish Festival when he impressed Ritz Music Group Chairman, Mick Clerkin, who signed him to his label. The first fruits of their working relationship came with the release of his debut album, Two Sides Of Daniel O’Donnell and this was receiving positive airplay both in Ireland and the UK.
He was now coming to the attention of many new fans thanks to a hectic tour schedule of the UK and Ireland together with radio and press promotions. Then in 1987 Daniel scored his first No 1 in the UK Country Chart with his third album Don’t Forget To Remember. It crashed straight into the top of the charts on the first week of release, a feat previously achieved only by top American acts. He followed this with glowing performances in Peterborough and at the Wembley International Festival of Country Music and amazingly enough was making far greater inroads in the UK than in his native Ireland.
His 1988 album From The Heart not only topped the Country Charts but also featured in the UK Pop Charts where it remained for 12 weeks. This proved to be a huge breakthrough success for Daniel and opened the door for his other albums, total sales of which stand at over 3.5 million.
To date he has had six Top 20 album successes in the UK Pop Charts as well as one Top 10 smash hit album with 1998's Love Songs, which peaked at No 9. His Top 20 successes to date are: Follow Your Dream (No 17 in 1992), Especially For You (No 14 in 1994), while in 1996 he had two hit albums with Timeless (No 13) and Songs Of Inspiration (No 11). In 1997 I Believe also charted at No 11 while all his albums have either secured gold (100,000 units) or platinum (300,000 units) status as well as top the UK Country Charts.
Daniel's crossover appeal has further underlined with the single Give A Little Love, which gave him his first ever Top 10 hit in the UK Pop Charts, reaching No 7 in April 1998. This single appears on his Love Songs album, which now boasts three hits: The Magic Is There peaked at No 16 in October 1998 while The Way Dreams Are reached No 18 in March 1999. He followed this with Uno Mas (Spanish for One More), a No 25 hit in July. In total he has enjoyed 11 Top 40 successes in the UK Pop Charts, the others being: The Love Songs EP (No 27 in 1997) while in 1996 Footsteps and Timeless (his duet with Mary Duff) reached Nos 25 and 32 respectively. In 1995, Secret Love peaked at No 28, Singing The Blues (No 23 in 1994) while Whatever Happened To Old Fashioned Love entered the pop charts at No 21. I Just Want To Dance With You began his run of hits when it charted at No 20 in 1992.
Despite all his success, Daniel’s feet have remained firmly on the ground. He lives near his family and takes a genuine interest in the running of his own hotel, The Viking House, where many guests have been treated to impromptu musical performances by Daniel.
Daniel joins the London and Surrey Club as a result of my politely 'accosting' him in a motorway service station in the middle of the night, on the way home from the Tennis in Birmingham on 17th December 2000. He was extremely polite and courteous at all times, even when I asked him to say hello to the others on our coach, which didn't give him the chance to eat the white chocolate Magnum that he'd just unwrapped.
Daniel has written a message for all of the London and Surrey fans:
I hope these few lines find you well and that you had a nice Christmas. I must say that I am delighted that Carol asked me to become a member of the Cliff Richard London and Surrey fan club. I have followed Cliff’s career for many years so I had no hesitation in accepting Carol's kind invitation.
I look forward to reading all the bits and pieces in the newsletters and I hope I can contribute some news of interest from time to time. If our paths ever cross and you know who I am, please say hello!