was eight years old when he had an accident on his bike which resulted
in the protruding teeth which have become one of his trademarks. He
recalled, "My teeth were knocked askew in a cycle accident, but discovering
that I could make people laugh was like being kissed by an angel.”
When his parents bought him a ‘Punch and Judy’ set, he used to conduct shows in the garden with his sister. At the age of 14 he noticed an advertisement for a book on how to become a ventriloquist and sent off for it. His father then bought him a dummy which Ken called Charlie Brown and he next began to entertain at local orphanages.
On leaving Holt School, Ken initially began delivering coal with his brother Billy for his father’s firm. He then became a salesman.
Show business was always attractive to him and he formed an act as 'Professor Yaffle Chuckabutty, Operatic Tenor and Sausage Knotter' in which he sang comic songs, turning professional in 1954.
Ken became one of Britain’s leading comedians and still performs, having passed the age of 80, yet he has also had a recording career which was highly successful and included ‘Tears’, which topped the charts for four weeks, selling over two million copies and becoming the biggest selling British record of 1964, despite the competition from The Beatles and all the other chart groups. Ken’s main record releases took place from 1960 – 1969. They were:
‘Love Is Like A Violin’ c/w ‘The Treasure In My Heart’, on Decca F11248.
It reached No8 in the charts.
‘Dream That I Love You’ c/w ‘Jealous Of You’, on Decca F11293.
1961: ‘Once In Every Lifetime’ c/w ‘Just For A While’, on Decca F11355, which reached No28 in the charts.
1962: ‘Pianissimo’ c/w ‘If My Heart Was A Ship’, on Decca F11 422, which reached No21 in the charts.
‘Come To Me’ c/w ‘More Than Anyone I Know’, on Columbia DB4872.
‘The Key’ c/w ‘Remember I Love You’, on Columbia DB4937.
1963: ‘Still’ c/w ‘Melodie’, on Columbia DB 7094, which reached No35 in the charts.
‘Eight By Ten’ c/w ‘I’ll Love You Tenderly’, on Columbia DB 7191, which reached No22 in the charts.
1964: ‘Happiness’ c/w ‘All Of My Life’, on Columbia DB 7325, which reached No31 in the charts.
‘So Deep Is The Night’ c/w ‘On One’s Listening’, on Columbia DB 7398, which also reached No31 in the charts.
1965: ‘Tears’ c/w ‘You And I’, on Columbia SB 7659, which topped the charts.
‘The River’ c/w ‘Someone Like You’, on Columbia DB 7750, which reached No3 in the charts.
1966: ‘Promises’ c/w ‘Thank You For Being You’, on Columbia DB 7914, which reached No6 in the charts.
‘More Than Love’ c/w ‘I Can’t Seem To Say Goodbye To You’, on Columbia DB 7976, which reached No14 in the charts.
‘It’s Love’ c/w ‘House With No Windows’, on Columbia SB 8031, which reached No36 in the charts.
1967: ‘Let Me Cry On Your Shoulder’ c/w ‘I Am Two Kinds Of Fool’, on Columbia DB 8101, which reached No11 in the charts.
‘Mine’ c/w ‘Then There Was You’, on Columbia DB 8250.
‘The Same Mistakes’ c/w ‘Call Me Mr. Sunshine’, on Columbia DB 8297.
1968: ‘Kisses From A Clown’ c/w ‘And You Were There’, on Columbia DB 8365.
‘Sunshine’ c/w ‘I Can’t Hold Back My Tears’, on Columbia DB8444.
1969: ‘With You Beside Me’ c/w ‘More Than Ever Now’, on Columbia DB 8543.
‘Tears Won’t Wash Away My Heartache’ c/w ‘How Can I Say I’m Sorry’, on Columbia DB 8600, which reached No22 in the charts.
‘Sweet Memories’ c/w ‘Don’t Say A Word’, on Columbia DB 8647.
chart albums included:
‘Tears Of Happiness’, on Columbia 33SX 1793, reached No6 on 25th December 1965, with a chart life of ten weeks.
The album re-entered the charts at No20 on 16th March 1966 with a chart life of two weeks.
‘Hits For Now And Always’ was issued on Columbia SX 6060 and reached No14 on 23rd July 1966 with a chart life of eleven weeks.
‘For Someone Special’, on Columbia SCX 6224, reached No40 in the charts for one week.
‘I’ll Find A Way’ was issued on Columbia SCX 6379 in 1970 and ‘Broken Hearted’ was issued on Columbia DB 8725 and reached No15 on 5th December 1970. The album re-entered the charts at No38 on 13th February 1971.
‘When Love Comes Round Again’ was issued on Columbia DB8796 and reached No9 in the charts on 10th July 1971, with a chart life of 16 weeks.
‘Just Out Of Reach (Of My Two Empty Arms) was issued on Columbia DB8947 and reached No29 in the charts on 18th November 1972, with a chart life of eleven weeks.
‘(Think Of Me) Wherever You Are’ was issued on EMI 2342 and reached No21 in the charts on 29th November 1975 with a chart life of eight weeks.
‘Hold My Hand’ was issued on Images IMGS 0002 and reached No44 in the charts on 26th December 1981 with a chart life of five weeks.
During Ken’s early career he sang comedy songs and during 1965 penned and recorded two comedy numbers ‘Where’s Me Shirt?’ and ‘Song Of the Diddymen’, the latter was issued as an EP on Music for Pleasure FP26 in 1968.
1965 he appeared on the longest-ever run at the London Palladium, a
total of 42 weeks, which broke all box office records and earned him
a Variety Club Award. In 1982 he was awarded an OBE by the Queen for
his services to show business and charity. In 1993 he received a Lifetime
Achievement award at the British Comedy Awards. In 2001 he was awarded
‘Freeman of the City of Liverpool’ and in 2002 became the first ever
member of the TV Times ‘Hall of Fame,’ while in November 2003 he became
the first recipient of the ‘Living Legend’ award from the British Comedy
Ken has also been made an Honorary Fellow of John Moores University in Liverpool and received an entry in the Guinness Book of Records for the Longest Joke Telling Session Ever when he told 1,500 jokes in three and a half hours at a Liverpool theatre. Ken is most proud of being voted ‘The Greatest Merseysider Ever’ by the people of Liverpool in April 2003. Runners up were John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
The Beatles appeared on a charity show at the Albany Theatre, Maghull, with Ken topping the bill on 15th October 1961. Ken thought their music was terrible and made a complaint to the organisers. When one of them came into his dressing room and said they’d been told that if they gave him their card he might be able to get them some bookings, he threw the card away. He was reminded of it years later when Paul McCartney mentioned that they’d worked with him before. “No, you’ve never worked with me, lad,” Ken told him. When Paul mentioned it had been at the Albany, Dodd said, “That noise wasn’t you, was it?” “Yeah, we were rubbish, weren’t we?” “You certainly were,” said Ken, “I had you thrown off.”
began to come for both acts at around the same time and during an appearance
on the Granada programme ‘Scene At 6.30’, Ken joined The Beatles in
humorous dialogue, with Gay Byrne as the referee. Here are just a few
excerpts from the interview:
BYRNE: “We have always thought that it might be a good question to put to Mr Kenneth Dodd and members of The Beatles er, to what extent they attribute their success to their hairstyles? And we’ll start by asking the question now of Mr Dodd.”
DODD: “We call it hair (he pronounces it ‘hur’) in Liverpool…you see we always have the judy with the fair (he pronounces it ‘fur’) hair. A fellow once went into a shop in Liverpool where they sell these minks and things and he said to the girl, ‘Give us one of those hairy coats.’ She said, ‘I beg your pardon, sir, what fur?’ He said, ‘For the judy, who do you think?’”
BYRNE: (To the Beatles): “Do you think he owes a lot of his success to his hairstyle, fellas?”
JOHN: “No. I don’t think it helped at all.”
“It might have been better if he was bald.”
DODD: “Bald!...with the teeth and the hair, all the gimmicks, you know, I think you definitely have to have a gimmick. You’ve all got gimmicks, haven’t you boys?”
BYRNE: “What about the nose?”
DODD: “The nose…(He looks at Ringo and points. Everybody laughs). “He’s a Martian! We were writing this film script for the boys…you know the boys are making this new film and we’ve been writing the script and we’ve cast Ringo in the role of King Charles on account of the thing, you know, and he goes along to Nell Gwynne and picks her jaffas.”
BYRNE: “Tell us more about this picture, we didn’t know about this.”
DODD: “Oh yes, we’ve written the thing. I’m writing the script, yes, with Knotty Ash University…he’s King Charles, John is a courtier and in this film he wears a long golden wig with all beautiful curls.”
JOHN: (camping it up): “Oh, very nice.”
DODD: “…And a blue velvet jacket and like, sort of knickerbockers, with lace round the bottom and buckled shoes with diamante clips on and he sort of walks round on the film set and there’s a policeman standing at the side, says he’ll pinch him when he comes off.”
BYRNE: “And what’s he supposed to be doing, though?”
DODD: “Well, John, he’s a peasant. He’s an evil sort” (he points to George). Commenting on the fact that Ken appears to have mistaken George for John, Paul and John say, “He’s Tom, Harry.”
“Well, thingy. He’s an evil smelly peasant.”
BYRNE: “Why is he an evil smelly peasant?”
DODD: “Come and stand where I am…and Paul is a jester, you see, and he’s always making the King laugh. Every time he stands on his head the King laughs like anything – he wears a kilt!”
BYRNE: “Getting back to this group, then, have you no ambitions to form a group yourself?”
DODD: “Love to. With the boys? Kenny & the Cockroaches or Doddy & the Diddymen.”
BYRNE: “What about yourself, would you…”
DODD: “Or Ringo & The Layabouts.”
BYRNE: Would you not form one yourself, Ken?”
DODD: “Yes, I’d like to. Yes, because the only thing is, I’d have to change me name, you see. I’d have to have a name like Cliff or Rock, something earthy.”
PAUL: “Or Cliff Dodd…Rock Dodd.”
DODD: “Let’s invite suggestions for an earthy name for me.”
also appeared once on ‘The Ken Dodd Show’, a BBC radio programme, although
Dodd’s agent turned down the opportunity of booking the group twice
as he didn’t think they’d last.”
When Ken appeared in pantomime in 1964 he commented,
“When I found out I was doing pantomime in Liverpool, I knew I had to pick out at least one Beatle to do a little impersonation. I picked Ringo, got myself tight trousers and a wig and included it in the show. Fantastic reception! But then Liverpool lads have got to stick together, haven’t they?”