Born: February 26, 1934;

Died: February 15, 2020.

JOE Gordon, who has died of heart failure aged 85, was one of the last surviving stars of the iconic Scottish television show The White Heather Club - and a direct influence on Billy Connolly, according to no less an authority than Pamela Stephenson, Connolly’s wife and biographer.

“There was a Scottish television show in the 50s called The White Heather Club that featured the likes of the Scottish tenor Kenneth McKellar warbling popular Robert Burns sings such as Ae Fond Kiss and My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose,” she wrote in her 2001 biography Billy. “McKellar was hardly Billy’s cup of tea, but occasionally the programme would feature Joe Gordon’s Folk Four. Joe played evocative ballads on a jumbo Gibson guitar. At the time, Billy didn’t know it was folk music, but he knew it spoke to him.”

Joe Gordon put his first harmonica trio together while doing national service in the RAF and he was still singing professionally into his seventies, in a duo with his wife Sally Logan. In between times, The Joe Gordon Folk Four were a mainstay of The White Heather Club, alongside the likes of Andy Stewart and Jimmy Shand.

An unashamedly tartan mix of song and dance, The White Heather Club was an institution on Scottish television from 1958 through most of the 1960s. It has been controversial with cultural commentators in recent times. But it was hugely popular, and not just in Scotland, but in England too, attracting up to 10 million viewers at its peak.

Over the years Gordon and Logan, his partner on stage and off since the mid-1960s, played in venues ranging from small clubs and church halls to Carnegie Hall, where they shared a bill with Andy Stewart. They played in front of royalty and at Burns nights in Russia and they did concerts from Germany to Australia, the United States to Turkey.

The son of a mercantile clerk and a primary school teacher, Joseph Peter Gordon was born in Glasgow in 1934. His parents moved to London when he was an infant and back to Springburn when he was seven. He went to Balornock Primary and St Mungo’s Academy. His early interests were drawing and running. He joined Springburn Harriers and drew posters and cartoons for the club. One of his clubmates worked in advertising and got him a job as a graphic artist.

Gordon bought a mouth organ just before going off for national service, during which he served as a medic at RAF Swinderby in Lincolnshire. After National Service, he resumed work as a graphic artist in Glasgow, bought his first Hofner guitar on HP from McCormack’s Music shop in Bath Street and joined the Black Diamonds skiffle group, with whom he enjoyed early success, appearing on BBC’s early pop show Six-Five Special along with Shirley Bassey.

He subsequently went solo as a jazz singer and guitarist. BBC producer Iain MacFadyen saw one of his gigs and asked if he could sing Scottish folk songs. Gordon gave him a rendition of Johnny Lad… “As I walking early/I chanced to see the Queen/She was playing at the fitba’/ Wi’ the lads on Glasgow Green”.

MacFadyen hired him for his new show, The White Heather Club, and teamed him up with George Hill, Callum Sinclair and Dick Campbell as the Joe Gordon Folk Four, singing such couthie numbers as Bonnie Lass o’ Fyvie and Coulter’s Candy. Gordon gave up his work as an artist to concentrate full time on his musical career, latterly with Logan, who also appeared on The White Heather Club. They would later appear together on other television shows, including Thingummyjig and Shindig.

In his early forties Gordon had two heart attacks and was put on a life support system. It prompted a “reappraisal” of his life, though he was still not exactly taking it easy. In the 1980s he and his wife had moved from Ayrshire to Aberdeenshire, where they ran the White Heather Hotel in the village of Auchenblae, while raising their son Scott and continuing to perform folk and country songs together.

They returned to Ayrshire, settling in Galston, and performed regularly in local halls, with appearances at the Gaiety Theatre in Ayr and an annual sell-out concert at Kilmarnock’s Palace Theatre. In later years they sometimes shared the stage with Scott, who played drums and piano and was a national accordion champion.

On Hogmanay 1991 Gordon and Logan played live sets in Ayr and then Glasgow, while their video machine was set to record Gordon on a White Heather Club reunion show on TV. He presented a show called Joe Gordon’s Musical Mixture on West Sound Radio; appeared in pantomime; played regularly at the Edinburgh and Glasgow Jazz Festivals, and released several albums in a series entitled Ragtime Banjos.

He also trained as a hypnotherapist. He had his own practice in Galston for years, he recorded CDs to help with anxiety, weight loss and giving up smoking and he had a regular phone-in spot on West Sound.

Joe Gordon is survived by his wife and son. He was one of the last of the White Heather Club regulars, though Jimmie Macgregor and Moira Anderson survive him.