LOS ANGELES (AP) - Joe Feeney, a tenor who crooned "Danny Boy" and other standards for 25 years on "The Lawrence Welk Show," died Wednesday. He was 76.
Feeney died of emphysema at a hospice in Carlsbad, Calif., son Tim Feeney said. The elder Feeney lived in San Marcos in San Diego County. The family believes Feeney, whom they said never smoked, may have contracted the illness from decades of performing in smoky casinos and nightclubs, his son said.
From 1957 to 1982, Feeney was the featured tenor on Welk's show, which offered easy-listening "champagne music" and clean-cut, family-oriented songs. The shows are still broadcast on public television
Feeney also had a rich career away from the show. He sang for five presidents at the White House and for Pope John Paul VI in 1975 at the Vatican, according to his Web site.
He performed at venues ranging from Carnegie Hall to Disneyland, in part to support a big family.
His last performance was in Syracuse, N.Y., in December.
Feeney was born to an Irish-American family in Grand Island, Neb., and as a child sang in the church choir. He continued singing through school. He entered and won several singing contests at the University of Nebraska.
A tape of his singing was sent to Welk in 1956, resulting in a guest spot on the Los Angeles-based show.
When he wasn't singing, Feeney loved to fish and golf. He also kept a garden and at one time raised horses on a ranch in Simi Valley, Tim Feeney said.
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