Comedian Ken Dodd, Who Once Called the Beatles Aliens, Dies at 90
Liverpool comedian and singer Ken Dodd, who had a close association and competition with the Beatles, has died at age 90. His passing yesterday followed a six-week stint in the hospital for a chest infection earlier this year.
He came up through the British variety circuit, and continued to perform for the next seven decades. His act – which included comedy, music, dance, magic and more – eventually became famous for Dodd's one-liners, the use of fanciful words like "tattyfilarious," and for his marathon standup routines. In the '60s, Dodd claimed a Guinness world record for the longest joke-telling session, which included 1,500 jokes in three-and-a-half hours. Even in his 80s, Dodd performed for more than three hours at a time.
Dodd had a number of career intersections with his fellow hometown heroes, the Beatles. He notched a huge hit with a 1965 version of "Tears" by Frank Capano and Billy Uhr, which had earlier been recorded by Rudy Vallee. Dodd's update became the third best-selling single of the decade in Britain, hurtling into a Top 5 elsewhere dominated by the Beatles. ("She Loves You" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand" were at 1 and 2, followed by "Can't Buy Me Love" and "I Feel Fine" at 4 and 5.)
That same year, Dodd conducted an impish television interview with the Fab Four, which is attached above. During the show, he quipped that "a professor of archaeology at Knotty Ash University said, 'I've discovered some tablets that say the Beatles are definitely Martians.'" He also conjures names for a Beatles/Dodd supergroup, including "Kenny and the Cockroaches," "Dodd and the Diddymen," and "Ringo and the Layabouts."
The ever-busy Dodd ended up with 20 Top U.K. 40 hits. He was still touring until 2017, and was also knighted last year. Dodd married his longtime partner just two days before his death, in their home — which was also the house in which he was born.
Upon hearing the news of Dodd's passing, Paul McCartney paid a fitting tribute: "Farewell to my fellow Liverpudlian and tattyfilarious Ken Dodd. Beloved by many people in Britain and a great champion of his home city and comedy. We met him on a few occasions as the Beatles and always ended up in tears of laughter. Today, it's tears of sadness, as well. See you, Doddy."