Daniel O’Donnell didn’t have it easy at first: he wanted to succeed in singing but got little encouragement in those early days. “People thought that my music was from a bygone era and had no relevance or place in the world today,” he writes on his website. (He had loads of fan information there. Visit it if you haven’t yet.)
He began performing in his sister’s band in 1982, playing an electric guitar he didn’t actually know how to play. But each time he was allowed to sing out front, he loved the applause: “It was like a drug and I was getting hooked.”
However, it wasn’t until 1985, after a few fits and starts, that he finally met his current manager, Sean Reilly. O’Donnell became so popular that his schedule filled up, exhausting him to the point where he could no longer perform. He approached his manager on New Years’ Day in 1992 and said he needed a break. “At the time, I was near to cracking up from doing too much work,” he writes. “It was literally too much. I kept saying ‘yes, yes, yes,’ to everything. Apart from the shows, I was visiting people who were sick or disabled, calling here, there and everywhere.”
Despite his health, O’Donnell returned to the stage in just three months. Although he admitted he didn’t feel that much better, he could at least sing again. It would, in the end, take him two years to fully recover. However, his return started on an upswing: a show at The Point in Dublin. Now renovated and called the O2, The Point back then could seat 8,500. O’Donnell remembers: “Now, I never imagined that I would ever perform there. It’s a venue that just didn’t seem to be within my reach.” But he sang at The Point on July 11, 1992, and his fame kept growing.
O’Donnell writes that he doesn’t sing to make money. Eternally humble, he says, “If it all ended tomorrow, I couldn’t say there is anything the world could have offered me that is better than what I have.” He believes he’s been able to stay normal despite the fame, and he enjoys his family life and being part of his local community when he’s not working.
He’s so normal, in fact, that he doesn’t even follow any type of crazy diet: “While I stay in fairly good shape for the stage, I’m not a keep-fit fanatic and my choice of foods is not particularly healthy. I like fried onions with steak and chips. I don’t like vegetables or salads very much. I don’t drink tea or coffee but I used to love tea and I had a reputation for drinking lots of it. On a day when I’m working I would boil the kettle and have hot water and a bar of chocolate.”
For a night of relaxing, feel-good Irish music, come see Daniel O’Donnell croon the evening away on Friday, May 25th at 7.30 PM.