Lonnie Donegan

Lonnie Donegan (left).

Skiffle is a musical style which emerged out of jazz in Britain in the early 1950s and was arguably most significant as a catalyst for other musical forms. Skiffle appealed as a "do it yourself" way of making music, and thousands of groups sprang up. It had a simple rhythm section (homemade string bass and washboard), augmented by banjo and guitars.


The most successful performer was Lonnie Donegan, who drew on American blues and folk, especially the work of Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly. By the early 1960s skiffle had developed into beat with instrumental groups, such as The Shadows, using electric instrumentation. Skiffle was influential as a training ground for beat musicians, such as John Lennon's Quarrymen.