- Old Mother Hubbard by The Blue Mountaineers (released by Broadcast Four-Tune (502) in 1933.) The Blue Mountaineers recorded quite a few records for the Broadcast labels from 1932-1934, and consisted mainly of musicians from Ambrose’s band, often with Nat Gonella or Sam Browne on vocals. Other Blue Mountaineers recordings include “Bahama Mama”, “Say to yourself I will be happy”, “Sweet Sixteen and never been kissed”, and “Is I in love? I Is!”.
- Dear Little Irish Mother by Harry Bidgood and his Broadcasters (released by Broadcast (138) in 1927). Harry Bidgood was born in London in 1898. He studied at The Royal College of Music, and began a lengthy recording career in the mid ’20s. Bidgood released records under his own name, as well as Primo Scala’s Accordion band, Nat Lewis, Rossini, Don Porto, Manhattan Melodymakers and Al Benny’s Broadway Boys. Records released under his own name include “Por Ti (Gor thee)” (1926), “Moonbeam I kiss her for thee” (1927), “Our bungalow of dreams” (1928), “Misery Farm” (1929), and “Sunnyside up” (1930). He was also musical director on several George Formby films. His most successful pseudonym was Primo Scala, and he was still broadcasting regularly as Primo Scala up to his death in November 1957. His Primo Scala releases include “The man on the flying trapeze”(1935), “Why did she fall for the leader of the band?”(1936), “Meet me down in Sun valley” (1938), “Waltzing Matilda” (1940), “Tica-Ti, Tica-Ta” (1942), “The echo told me a lie”(1949), “Rudolph the red nosed reindeer” (1950), and “Mockin’ Bird Hill”(1951).
- Hello Mom by Bing Crosby (released by Brunswick (03510) in 1944). Bing Crosby was born in May 1903, in Tacoma, Washington, US (originally named Harry, he was nicknamed Bing as a child and the name stuck). As a teenager he saw singers while working at his local auditorium, but it wasn’t until he was 20 that he started singing in a band himself, called The Musicaladers. Two years later this band split and he started singing with a vocal trio, The Three Harmony Aces. He then formed a duo with Al Rinker, with whom he made his first record, “I’ve got the girl” in 1926. The act then expanded to a trio again, with the addition of Harry Barris, and were rechristened The Rhythm Boys. Several successful records followed before Bing was offered a solo recording contract in 1931 with Brunswick records. Over the next decade he became one of the most successful American singers worldwide, with hits such as “Stardust” (1931), “Please” (1932), “Let me call you sweetheart” (1935), “Basin Street Blues” (1937) and “My melancholy baby” (1939). It was during the ’30s that Bing also started appearing in films, such as “College Humor” (1933), “She loves me not” (1934), “Anything goes” (1936), “Sing, you sinners” (1938) and “East side of heaven” (1939). As well as appearing in films and releasing records, Bing also had his own US radio series. In 1942 Bing released what would become his most famous recording, “White Christmas”, which was also used in the film “Holiday Inn”. He re-recorded the song in 1947 after the original master became damaged and the record still sells every Christmas. Bing continued recording, appearing in films, radio and TV into the 1970s, right until his death in October 1977 (he gave his last live performance 4 days before his death, and recorded his last radio session and interview the following day.)
- My Mother’s Eyes by Maurice Elwin (released by Zonophone (5397) in 1929). Maurice Elwin was born in 1898 in Glasgow, his real name being Norman MacPhaill Blair. He moved to London and regularly appeared with the Savoy Orpheans in the ’20s and ’30s. He recorded for Zonophone, Decca, Imperial and Rex during the late ’20s and first half of the ’30s, his records including “You’re in my heart” (1929), “It happened in Monterey” (1930), “I surrender, dear” (1931), “Lullaby of the leaves” (1932), “The Gold digger’s song (We’re in the money)” (1933), “Everything I have is yours” (1934) and “Gloomy Sunday (The Famous Hungarian Suicide Song)” (1936). He later became a music teacher in Hampstead, and died in 1975.
- Mother from the Train by The Beverley Sisters (released by Decca (10832) in 1956). The Beverley Sisters were a UK trio comprising sisters Joy (1924-2015) and twins Teddie and Babs (born 1927) Chinery. They came to prominence after successfully auditioning to sing in an advert for Ovaltine, and then for BBC Radio in 1944. They made many appearances on BBC Radio during the late ’40s an early ’50s, and signed to Columbia Records in 1951, then to Philips in 1953 and finally Decca in 1955. They scored their first UK hit with “I Saw mommy kissing Santa Claus” in 1953 and had several other hits over the following years including “Willie Can” (1956), “I Dreamed” (1957), “Little drummer boy” (1959) and “Green Fields” (1960). The group’s hits dried up in the early ’60s and they rarely recorded after then, although they continued to sing live and appear on TV. As late as 2009 they were still making occasional live appearances, before retiring.
- Grandmother’s Wedding Dress by Ronnie Ronalde (released by Columbia (DB 2852) in 1951). Ronnie Ronalde was born (as Ronald Waldron) in 1923 in London, growing up in Islington. His family was poor and as a child he earned money by entertaining people with his singing, mimicry, whistling and bird song.As a teenager he joined Arturo Steffani’s Silver Songsters, and Steffani later became his manager, steering his career to success from the late ’40s onwards. He signed to Columbia Records, his 78 releases including “In a monastery garden” (1949), “Let me sing in echo valley” (1950), “Down by the old zuyder zee” (1951), “The Skye Boat Song ” (1953), and “The Yodellin’ Rag” (1956). After his initial success in the ’50s he continued making live, radio and TV appearances but slowly withdrew from the limelight. He moved to Guernsey in the ’60s where he bought a hotel, then to the Isle of Man in the late ’80s and finally to New Zealand and Australia in the ’90s. He moved back to the UK a few years before his death in 2015.
- Grandma’s Ball by Johnny Dodds’ Chicago Footwarmers (released by Columbia (Swing series 144) in 1953, recorded 1927). Johnny Dodds was born in 1892 in Waveland, Mississippi, but moved to New Orleans in his teens and started learning to play the clarinet. After a move to Chicago he joined Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band, with whom he made his first recordings in 1923. In the next couple of years he also recorded with Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five and Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers. In the late ’20s he recorded with his own bands, his records including “Oh Daddy”, “New St. Louis Blues”, “Clarinet wobble”, “Joe Turner blues”, “After you’ve gone” and “Wildman blues”. Ill health meant he only recorded twice during the 1930s, and he died in August 1940, aged 48.
- Your mother and mine by Doris Day and The Four Lads (released by Columbia (DB 3256) in 1953). Doris Day (born Doris Kappelhoff) was born in April 1922 in Cincinatti, Ohio. She began her entertainment career as a dancer while still a child, but a car accident at 15 injured her leg and curtailed her dancing career. While recuperating, Doris listened to the radio and sang along, which spurred her mother to pay for singing lessons. She began singing live locally and appeared on local radio which led to her singing with Barney Rapp, Bob Crosby, Jimmy James and Les Brown. It was with Les Brown that she scored her first hit record in 1945 with “Sentimental journey.” She went on to make dozens of records, including “Pretty Baby” (1948), “I Don’t Wanna Be Kissed By Anyone But You” (1950), “I Love The Way You Say Goodnight” (1951), “I’ll see you in my dreams” (1952), “Mister Tap Toe” (1953), “Love me or leave me” (1955), “Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)” (1956) and “The Tunnel of love” (1959). During this period Doris also began appearing in films, including “Romance on the high seas” (1948), “Tea for two” (1950), “April in Paris” (1952), “Young at heart” (1954), “The Man who knew too much” (1956) and “Pillow Talk” (1959). Her film career flourished in the early ’60s but by the end of the decade her popularity was in decline, although she did host her own TV show between 1968 and 1973. Since then Doris has largely retired from the entertainment industry, with only occasional appearances and recordings. She is more involved with animal welfare charities, running the Doris Day Animal Foundation and the Doris Day Animal League. At the time of writing, Doris Day has recently celebrated her 96th birthday.
- Mama by David Whitfield (released by Decca (F 10515) in 1955). David Whitfield was born in Hull, UK, in 1925. As a child he sang in his church choir, then, while in the navy during World War 2, entertained his colleagues with his singing. After the war he entered Radio Luxembourg’s talent show “Opportunity knocks” which led to a recording contract with Decca Records. His records included “I Believe” (1953), “Answer Me” (1953), “Cara Mia” (1954), “Lady of Madrid” (1955), “My Son John” (1956), “The Adoration waltz” (1957), and “Love is a stranger” (1958). As well as having great success in the UK, he became the most successful British singer of the ’50s in the US, and his 1954 hit “Cara Mia” became the first record by a UK singer to top both the UK and US charts.Despite his huge popularity the hits had dried up by the end of the ’50s, although he carried on performing up to his death in 1980.
The 27th 78Man Podcast has Beatles related 78s as its subject again (podcast number 10 was the first Beatles podcast). It can be heard on itunes Here or on Soundcloud Here . Tracks heard on the podcast are :
- Maggie May by The Vipers Skiffle Group (released by Parlophone (R 4289) in 1957).The Vipers Skiffle Group formed in the spring of 1956, initially comprising Wally Whyton, Johnny Martyn, and Jean Van Den Bosch (later replaced by Freddy Lloyd). A few months later Tony Tolhurst and John Pilgrim joined and they gained a residency at the legendary 2i’s coffee bar. Within a matter of months they were signed to Parlophone by George Martin and their first single “Ain’t you glad” was released before the end of 1956 but didn’t chart. Their second single, “Don’t you rock me, Daddy-O” was a hit, however, reaching number 10 in the UK charts in February 1957. Two further hits followed the same year, “Cumberland Gap” and “Steamline Train” but the skiffle boom petered out and later records such as “Pay me money down” and “Summertime blues” (released as “The Vipers”) failed to chart. The group split in 1960 when their contract with Parlophone expired.
- Moonlight Bay by Bing and Gary Crosby (released by Brunswick (04781) in 1951). Bing Crosby is featured in the blog about Podcast 25 Here . His son Gary was born in June 1933, one of four sons Bing had with Dixie Lee. He sang with his brothers (Philip, Lindsay, and Dennis) in The Crosby Boys from the ’40s through to the ’60s, as well as releasing a few solo records and duets (with Louis Armstrong and Sammy Davis Jr.). As well as “Moonlight bay” he also recorded several other songs with his father, including “Sam’s song”, “Play a simple melody” and “Down by the riverside”. He also had a moderately successful acting career, appearing in films such as “Mardi Gras” (1958), “Holiday for lovers” (1959), “The right approach” (1961) and “Girl Happy” (1965). He died in August 1995.
- Raunchy by Winifred Atwell (released by Decca F. 10987) in 1958). See the previous blog for info on Winifred Atwell Here . “Raunchy” plays an important part in The Beatles story as it was the tune which George Harrison played to John Lennon when he was introduced to him by Paul McCartney. Despite George being more than 2 years younger than John he was invited to join the band because of how well he played this song. “Raunchy” was originally released by Bill Justus, who co-wrote the song with Sidney Manker. Cover versions have been recorded by many artists, including Ernie Freeman, Ken Mackintosh, The Ventures, Bill Black, Tom and Jerry, Ace Cannon, Billy Strange and The Incredible Bongo Band.
- Young Blood by The Coasters (released by London (H-E. 8450) in 1957). The Coasters formed in late 1955 and were signed to Atlantic Records in the US immediately, working with the songwriters Leiber and Stoller. Their first single, “Down in Mexico” was a hit on the R&B chart in 1956 but it was their second single “Young Blood”/”Searchin'” which brought them major success on the pop chart in the US, also reaching number 30 in the UK. A string of hits followed-“Yakkety Yak”, “Charlie Brown”, “Poison Ivy” and “Along Came Jones”, but by the early ’60s the hits ran dry. The band carried on with an ever changing line up, and continues to this day although there are now no original members.
- The Saints by Jack Parnell and his Orchestra (released by Parlophone (R 4083) in 1955). Jack Parnell was born in London in 1923 into a theatrical family-his uncle was theatre impresario Val Parnell. He took up playing drums and during the ’40s and ’50s was voted best drummer in the Melody Maker readers poll for several years. His band made their first records in the mid ’40s and their releases include “Soft Noodles” (1945), “On the sunny side of the street” (1947), “The White Suit Samba” (1951), “Catherine Wheel” (1953), and “Shake, Rattle and Roll” (1955). In 1956 he was appointed musical director for ATV, a role he kept until 1981, working on TV shows as diverse as “The Benny Hill Show”, “The strange world of Gurney Slade”, “The Golden Shot”, “This is Tom Jones”, “The Muppet Show” and “Family Fortunes”. He died in 2010.
- You Gotta Go Oww! by Count Jim Moriarty with Graveley Stephens (pharmacological pianist) and the Massed Alberts (released by Parlophone (R 4251) in 1956). Count Jim Moriarty was a pseudonym for Spike Milligan, and was originally a character voiced by Milligan in the Goon Show. Spike Milligan was born in 1918 in India, to an Irish father who was serving in the British army, and a British mother. His first 12 years were spent in India and Burma, before the family moved to London in 1931. His entertainment career began when he performed in jazz bands as a trumpeter and vocalist, before being called up to serve in World War Two. At this time he began writing surreal stories and sketches. After serving in North Africa and Italy, he was injured and spent most of the rest of his time in the army entertaining the troops. After being demobbed, Milligan returned to the UK and initially continued playing jazz music for a living, but wanted to break into radio as a writer/performer. After writing for the Derek Roy radio show, he teamed up with Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe and Michael Bentine to form The Goons, and secured a weekly show on BBC Radio, although their first shows went out under the name Crazy People. The Goon Show became a radio institution during the ’50s although the pressure of writing a weekly script took its toll on Milligan’s mental health. At the height of The Goons popularity Milligan also co-wrote and co-starred (with Sellers) in three TV series-The Idiot Weekly, price 2d, A Show called Fred, and Son of Fred. In 1963 the Three main Goons (Bentine only appeared in the first couple of radio series) voiced the puppet TV show The Telegoons and Milligan went on to make several TV shows-The World of Beachcomber (1968), Curry and chips (1969), Q5 (1969), Q6 (1975), Q7 (1977), Q8 (1978), Q9 (1980) and There’s a lot of it about (1982). As well as radio and TV appearances, Milligan also published several books of prose and poetry, and appeared in theatre and film. He died in February 2002.
- Bad Penny Blues by Humphrey Lyttelton and his band (released by Parlophone (R 4184) in 1956). Humphrey Lyttleton was born in May 1921 at Eton College in Berkshire, UK, where his father was a house master. As a result, he himself was educated at Eton. It was at Eton that he developed his love for jazz music, and taught himself to play the trumpet. After serving in the second world war, Lyttleton earned a living as both a musician and cartoonist for the Daily Mail. He made his first recordings in the late ’40s for small labels such as Tempo, London Jazz and Melodisc (the latter with Sidney Bechet). In 1950 he signed to Parlophone, where he remained for most of the next decade. His recordings for the label include “Snake Rag” (1950), “Trog’s blues” (1951), “East Coast Trot” (1954), “Fish seller” (1955) and “Love, love, love” (1956). In later years Lyttleton became a radio personality, presenting “The Best of Jazz” on BBC Radio 2 from 1967 to 2007, and the comedy panel show “I’m sorry I haven’t a clue” on BBC Radio 4 from 1972 until his death in April 2008.
- Gamblin’ Man by Lonnie Donegan (released by PYE Nixa (N. 15093) in 1957). Lonnie Donegan was born Anthony James Donegan in April 1931 in Glasgow, although his family moved to London two years later. As a child he was interested in music and bought his first guitar at 14. While still a teenager he joined Chris Barber’s band. In 1952 he formed the Tony Donegan jazz band but changed his name to Lonnie after supporting blues singer Lonnie Johnson at the Royal Festival Hall, although he was also still playing with Chris Barber’s band (which had been renamed Ken Colyer’s Jazzmen). In 1954 Lonnie recorded a couple of records for the Decca label (one of which, “Rock Island Line” was a hit two years later) but it wasn’t until he signed to the PYE Nixa label in 1956 that he began to chart regularly with hits such as “Lost John”, “Bring a little water Sylvie”, “Don’t you rock me Daddy-O”, “Cumberland Gap”, “Jack O’Diamonds”, “Tom Dooley”, “Does your chewing gum lose it’s flavour”, “My old man’s a dustman”, and “Have a drink on me”. Between 1956 and 1962 he scored 31 top 40 UK hits, while also having success in the US. Donegan was a victim of Beatlemania and the other ’60s beat groups and had no further hits, although he continued playing live, in both the UK and the US. It was while touring the US in 1976 that he had his first heart attack, and he was plagued by ill health thereafter, finally dying of a heart attack in 2002.
- I’ll see you in my dreams by The Beverley Sisters (released by Decca (F 10853) in 1957). The Beverley Sisters were a UK trio comprising sisters Joy (1924-2015) and twins Teddie and Babs (born 1927) Chinery. They came to prominence after successfully auditioning to sing in an advert for Ovaltine, and then for BBC Radio in 1944. They made many appearances on BBC Radio during the late ’40s an early ’50s, and signed to Columbia Records in 1951, then to Philips in 1953 and finally Decca in 1955. They scored their first UK hit with “I Saw mommy kissing Santa Claus” in 1953 and had several other hits over the following years including “Willie Can” (1956), “I Dreamed” (1957), “Little drummer boy” (1959) and “Green Fields” (1960). The group’s hits dried up in the early ’60s and they rarely recorded after then, although they continued to sing live and appear on TV. As late as 2009 they were still making occasional live appearances, before retiring.
1. Let’s Have a Party Parts 1 & 2 by Winifred Atwell (Released by Philips (PB 213) in 1953). Winifred Atwell was born in Trinidad and Tobago in 1914. She studied pharmacy as her parents were pharmacists, but also played piano, gaining popularity locally. In 1946 she moved to London to study at the Royal Academy of Music. She soon started playing live dates, and made her first BBC Radio appearances in late 1946, although it wasn’t until 1951 that she was signed to Decca and started making records. Her first major hit came in late 1951 with her fourth release “The Black and White Rag”/”Cross hands boogie”, released before the UK singles chart started in 1952. During the rest of the ’50s she had 15 UK chart hits including two number ones-“Let’s have another party” (1954) and “The poor people of Paris” (1956). Other notable hits included “Britannia Rag”, “Flirtation Waltz” and “Port au Prince”. As well as her UK success, she was also hugely popular in Australia, and moved there in the 1970s, by which time her career in the UK had waned (although “The Black and White Rag” was heard regularly as the theme to TV show “Pot black”.) She also had a property in Trinidad where she often stayed . She died in 1983.
2. Tunes With Pep No. 1 by The Bugle Call Raggers (Released by Decca (F 5483) in 1935). The Bugle Call Raggers took their name from the 1922 composition “Bugle Call Rag”, first recorded by The New Orleans Rhythm Kings, and later covered by Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway and Muggsy Spanier, among many others. They were actually a pseudonym used by Harry Roy and his band, and also released “Temptation Rag” (1936), and “Alexander’s got a swing band now” in 1938. Harry Roy was born Harry Lipman on 12th January 1900 in Stamford Hill, London. In his teens he started performing with his brother Sidney, Harry playing clarinet and saxophone. They paid their dues in the ’20s playing venues like the Cafe de Paris and London Coliseum, also touring Germany, Australia and South Africa under a variety of band names. By the early ’30s Harry was fronting his own band and in 1931 co-wrote the notorious and much covered song “My girl’s pussy”. He made many records for Parlophone during the ’30s, including “Twelfth Street rag”(1933), “Alexander’s Ragtime Band”(1934),”Make funny faces at your neighbours”(1935) and “Beer barrel polka”(1939) before moving on to Regal Zonophone in the ’40s where his recordings included “He’s my uncle”(1940),”Mister Brown of London town”(1941),”Der Fuehrer’s Face”(1942), and “When you wore a tulip”(1943). His recording career ended in the early 50’s and he retired from music until 1969 when he was involved with the musical “Oh Clarence” at the Lyric Theatre in London. He died on 1st February 1971.
3. The Harry Lauder Medley Part 2 by The Victory Band (Released by Decca (F 8298) in 1943). Harry Lauder was born in 1870 in Edinburgh. His Father died when he was 11, and by the age of 14 he was working in a colliery, where he used to sing to his fellow workers. This led to engagements in local music halls, and in 1894 he turned professional. In 1900 he moved down to London where he became immediately successful. Over the next few years his fame grew and he toured America for the first time in 1907. He made his first recordings in 1905 and he recorded prolifically up until the early 1930s. Following his first flush of success (in 1911 he became the highest paid entertainer in the world), Lauder spent much of the Great War raising money for the war effort, for which he was knighted in 1919. The war held personal tragedy for Lauder; his son John was killed in December 1916 at Pozieres. John’s death inspired Lauder to write “The end of the road” which became one of his best known songs. Despite retiring in 1935, Lauder also entertained the troops during World War 2. He died in February 1950.
4. Gracie’s Hit Medley No. 2 Part 1 by Gracie Fields (Released by Regal Zonophone (MR 3054) in 1938). Gracie Fields was born 9 January 1898 in Rochdale and christened Grace Stansfield. She made her first stage appearance at the age of 7 and made her first recordings for His Master’s Voice in 1928, recording one of her biggest hits, “Sally” for them in 1931. Other recordings for His Master’s Voice include “Like the big pots do” (1929), “Painting the clouds with sunshine” (1930), “Just One More Chance” (1931) and “Rochdale Hounds” (1932). In 1935 she moved to Rex Records, her first release for the label being “When I grow too old to dream”/”Turn ‘Erbert’s face to the wall, Mother”. Further Rex releases included “Red Sails in the sunset” (1935), “Did your Mother come from Ireland ?” (1936) and “Lambeth Walk” (1938). She recorded for both Rex and Regal Zonophone until moving to Decca in 1941. In the late ’50s she moved to Columbia Records. During this time, of course, she also appeared in several films, including “Sally in our alley” (1931), “Sing as we go!” (1934), “Look up and laugh” (1935), “Queen of hearts” (1936), and “Shipyard Sally” (1939). Gracie spent most of her later life living on the Isle of Capri where she died on 27th September 1979.
5. Say it with music selection by Jack Simpson and the Freedom boys (Released by Decca (MW 227) in 1945). Jack Simpson was born in September 1905 in Croydon, Surrey, UK. He began playing music as a child, making his first stage appearance at the age of 11, and became known as a xylophone and marimba player. He began recording in the early ’40s with his band The Jack Simpson Sextet, his records including “Oasis” (1941), “Dish me a dish” (1942), “Stage Coach” (1942), “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition” (1943), “Jack’s the boy for work” (1949) and “Stick it on the wall Mrs Riley” (1950). He also appeared in the films “Musical Contrasts” (1946) and “Nothing Venture” (1948). He died in 1977.
6. The Naughty Nineties Part 4 by The Old Timers Sketch Company with Fred Hartley’s Quintet (Released by Columbia (DB 1259) in 1935). Fred Hartley was born in Scotland in 1905, and became a pianist after studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He made his first broadcast in 1925, and formed his Quintet in 1931. The Quintet made many BBC radio broadcasts, and in 1946 Fred was made Head of BBC Light Music. He also composed piano pieces, sometimes publishing his compositions under the pseudonym Iris Taylor. He died in 1980.
7. A Selection of popular hits Part 2 by Primo Scala’s Accordion Band (Released by Rex Records (8044) in 1933). Many records were released by Primo Scala and his banjo and accordion band, but Primo Scala didn’t exist-it was a pseudonym used by Harry Bidgood, who was born in London in 1898. Bidgood released records under his own name, as well as Nat Lewis, Rossini and Don Porto. He was also musical director on several George Formby films. He was still broadcasting regularly as Primo Scala up to his death in November 1957. Other Primo Scala releases include “The man on the flying trapeze”(1935), “Why did she fall for the leader of the band?”(1936), “The echo told me a lie”(1949) and “Mockin’ Bird Hill”(1951).
8. Swing it George Parts 1 & 2 by George Formby (Released by Regal Zonophone (MR 3103) in 1939). George Formby (and his father George Formby senior) are covered in the blog for the 8th podcast, which featured both men. Read it Here . If you want a more visual telling of George’s story, there’s a documentary on his life Here.
1. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer by Donald Peers and Hattie Jacques (Released by His Master’s Voice (B. 9984) in 1950.) Donald Peers was born in Wales in July 1908. By his late teens he was working as a house painter, and began singing in a band during the evenings, making his radio debut in December 1927. In 1929 he made his debut on the London stage, and his recording career began in 1934 when he signed to Eclipse Records (the label owned by, and sold exclusively in, Woolworths stores.) His recordings for Eclipse include “Little Man, you’ve had a busy day”, “The Man on the flying trapeze” and “I’ll string along with you”. In the early ’40s he signed with Decca Records and his recordings for them include “When they sound the last all clear”, “Homecoming Waltz” and “In a shady nook, by a babbling brook” (which became his signature tune). In 1949 he moved to His Master’s Voice, and recorded songs such as “Lavender Blue (Dilly Dilly)”, “Sleepy Town Express”, “Music! Music! Music! (Put another nickel in)”, “(If I knew you were comin’) I’d have baked a cake” and “Why Worry”. During the ’50s and ’60s Donald Peers made regular radio and TV appearances in the UK, before spending a few years in Australia. In 1969 he scored his biggest UK hit, “Please don’t go” (most of his best selling records were released before the UK records chart began). He died in August 1973. Hattie Jacques (1922-1980) began her career in theatre but came to national prominence when she appeared in three popular radio series in the 1950s-“It’s That Man Again”, “Educating Archie” and “Hancock’s Half Hour”. She went on to appear in many Carry On films and had a long running role as Eric Sykes’ sister in many series of his TV shows.
2. Christmas in Killarney by Bing Crosby (Released by Brunswick (04838) in 1951). Bing Crosby was born in May 1903, in Tacoma, Washington, US (originally named Harry, he was nicknamed Bing as a child and the name stuck). As a teenager he saw singers while working at his local auditorium, but it wasn’t until he was 20 that he started singing in a band himself, called The Musicaladers. Two years later this band split and he started singing with a vocal trio, The Three Harmony Aces. He then formed a duo with Al Rinker, with whom he made his first record, “I’ve got the girl” in 1926. The act then expanded to a trio again, with the addition of Harry Barris, and were rechristened The Rhythm Boys. Several successful records followed before Bing was offered a solo recording contract in 1931 with Brunswick records. Over the next decade he became one of the most successful American singers worldwide, with hits such as “Stardust” (1931), “Please” (1932), “Let me call you sweetheart” (1935), “Basin Street Blues” (1937) and “My melancholy baby” (1939). It was during the ’30s that Bing also started appearing in films, such as “College Humor” (1933), “She loves me not” (1934), “Anything goes” (1936), “Sing, you sinners” (1938) and “East side of heaven” (1939). As well as appearing in films and releasing records, Bing also had his own US radio series. In 1942 Bing released what would become his most famous recording, “White Christmas”, which was also used in the film “Holiday Inn”. He re-recorded the song in 1947 after the original master became damaged and the record still sells every Christmas. Bing continued recording, appearing in films, radio and TV into the 1970s, right until his death in October 1977 (he gave his last live performance 4 days before his death, and recorded his last radio session and interview the following day.)
3. Jingle Bells by Fats Waller and his Rhythm (Released by His Master’s Voice (B.D. 1229) in 1948.) Thomas Wright (aka “Fats”) Waller was born in New York in 1904, the youngest of 11 children. He started playing the piano at the age of six and by the age of ten was playing organ in his clergyman father’s church. Despite opposition from his father he became a professional musician at the age of 15, playing organ at the Lincoln Theatre in Harlem. He began his recording career in 1926 when he signed to the US Victor label, recording under various names over the next few years (Fats Waller’s Buddies, Morris’s Hot Babes, and McKinney’s Cotton Pickers), but in 1934 he started releasing records as Fats Waller and his Rhythm, a name which stuck and under which he released for the next decade, until his premature death in 1943. Some of these releases include “12th Street Rag” (1935), “I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter” (1936), “Basin street blues” (1937), “Ain’t Misbehavin'” (1938), “Your feets too big” (1939), “Abercrombie had a zombie” (1940) and “Your socks don’t match” (1943).
4. Jingle Bells by The Singing Dogs (Released by PYE Nixa (N 15009) in 1955.) The Singing Dogs were the brainchild of recording engineer Carl Weissmann, who had been recording birdsong and accidentally also recorded dogs barking. He got the idea to record dogs barking (using five different dogs) and then splicing the different pitched barks together to form songs. He got Danish record producer Don Charles to provide the musical accompaniment. Only two Singing Dogs records were produced, with “Jingle Bells” being part of a medley which also included “Pat-a-Cake Pat-a-Cake” and “Three Blind Mice”.
5. I’m Walking backwards for Christmas by The Goons (Released by Decca (F. 10756) in 1956.) The Goon Show was broadcast by the BBC throughout the 1950s, the first series (which was called “Crazy People”) aired in 1951, and the last series (the tenth) began on 24 December 1959 and ended on 28th January 1960. The Goons comprised Spike Milligan (1918-2002), Peter Sellers (1925-1980), Harry Secombe (1921-2001) and (for the first two series only) Michael Bentine (1922-1996). The earlier series were not recorded, and only a handful of episodes exist from the first four series. From series five onwards all episodes survive, although some were edited. The Radio series was wildly successful and led to spin off records and films. In 1956 two records- “I’m walking backwards for Christmas” (with “Bluebottle blues” on the B side), and “Bloodnok’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Call”/”The Ying Tong Song” made the UK top 10 singles chart (the latter was also a hit on re-issue in 1973). In 1951 Sellers, Milligan and Secombe appeared in the film “Penny Points to Paradise” and the following year they appeared (along with Bentine) in the film “Down among the Z men”. Although the radio series ended in January 1960, there was further Goon activity-in 1963/4 a puppet TV series, The Telegoons, featured the voices of the three Goons, running to 26 episodes. In 1968 Thames TV made a one off TV re-enactment of the radio episode “Tales of Men’s shirts”, and in 1972 the BBC televised another one off, called “The last Goon show of all”. In 1978, the three Goons made a final one off record, “The Raspberry song”/”Rhymes”.
6. Where did my snowman go by Petula Clark (Released by Polygon (P 1056) in 1952). Petula Clark was born in November 1932, and began singing at an early age, making her first stage appearance at 6 and first radio appearance at 9. At 12 she was performing at the Royal Albert Hall, where she was seen by film director Maurice Elvey who cast her in the film “Medal for the General”, the first of a string of films which included “Vote for Huggett” and “The Huggets Abroad” (both 1949), “Made in Heaven” (1952), and “The Gay Dog” (1954). In 1946 she was given her own TV series by the BBC, and her recording career began shortly afterwards, initially with Columbia Records, but her first big successes were with Polygon Records (a label co-founded by her father) in the early ’50s. Her records for Polygon included “Tennessee Waltz” (1951), “It had to be you” (1952), “Made in Heaven” (1953), “The Little Shoemaker” (1954), and “Romance in Rome” (1955). In 1955 Polygon was sold to the PYE/Nixa label where Petula stayed for more than a decade and a half-her releases on 78 for the label including “Band of gold” (1956), “Alone” (1957), “Baby Lover” (1958), and “Where do I go from here?” (1959). During the ’60s Petula scored huge hits with “Downtown” and “Don’t sleep in the subway”, as well as appearing on John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band’s “Give peace a chance”. In 1957 Petula appeared at the Paris Olympia and became a huge star in France, where she signed to Vogue Records. Because of her French success she recorded many songs in French (as well as German, Italian and Spanish). Petula remains active to this day, her latest new album being released in 2016.
7. A Jolly Christmas (Uncredited) (Released by Zonophone (X-49279 C. 1905)
8. Walking in a Winter Wonderland by The King Brothers (Released by Parlophone (R 4367) in 1957). The King Brothers comprised three British brothers-Denis, Michael and Anthony King. They first came to the public’s attention when they appeared on the TV programme “Shop Window” in 1952, although they didn’t release their first record, “Marianne” until early 1957, when they signed to the Parlophone label. Although “Marianne” wasn’t a hit, their next record, “A White Sport Coat (and a Pink Carnation)” made number 6 in the UK charts and was followed by several other hits over the next four years, including “In the middle of an island”, “Wake up little Susie”, “Put a light in the window”, “Standing on the corner”, “Doll House” and “76 Trombones”. The hits dried up and The King Brothers left Parlophone in 1962. A few records were released later in the ’60s by Pye, Oriole, CBS and Page One Records but none were hits and the group split in 1970. Denis King went on to have a successful career as a TV theme writer, penning the themes for “The Adventures of Black Beauty”, “Within these walls”, “Lovejoy”, “We’ll meet again” and “Hannay”, among others. He has also composed music for films and theatre productions.
9. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus By Billy Cotton and his band (Released by Decca (F. 10206) in 1953). Billy Cotton was born in London on May 6th 1899. He started playing drums during the Great War, and went professional in the early ’20s, starting his own band in 1925. His recording career started shortly after and he made many records over the years, including “I’m Smiling through my tears” (1928), “The new Tiger rag” (1930), “Rhymes” (1931), “Skirts” (1933), “I’m on a see saw” (1934), “Basin Street blues” (1936), and “I wish I could fish” (1941). During the Second World War he spent time entertaining the troops, and in the ’50s and ’60s he presented “The Billy Cotton Band show” on radio and TV. He died on March 25th, 1969.
Podcast Number 24a is an extra podcast for November 2017, and features songs released on 78 which share their title with later hit songs. It can be heard on itunes Here and on Soundcloud Here . Tracks heard on the podcast are :
- Rambling rose by Billy Thorburn’s The Organ, The Dance Band And Me. (Originally Released by Parlophone (F 2308) in 1948). Billy Thorburn was born in 1900, the son of a church verger. As a child he learned to play the organ and became the church organist at the age of 9. After The Great War ended he began playing in bands, including one at the Regent Palace Hotel, and then went on to appear on radio from 1923 onwards as “Uncle Jazz”. A year or so later he joined The Savoy Orpheans, with whom he made his first recordings. After leaving The Savoy Orpheans in 1927, Billy spent the next 6 years with the Jay Wilbur band, recording with them for Dominion, Imperial and Eclipse, as well as playing piano on records from that period by Elsie Carlisle, Charles Penrose, George Formby and Tommy Handley among others. He then joined Jack Payne’s band for a couple of years before forming his own band and began recording for Parlophone as Billy Thorburn and his music in 1936. The following year the band began a regular radio programme, “The Organ, The Dance Band and Me” which became very popular, and led to the band being billed as such on record. The band recorded many records for Parlophone up to the late ’50s, including “There’s Something Wrong With The Weather” (1939), “Meet Mr Callaghan” (1942), “Hey Ho, It’s Love Again” (1943), “Down our way” (1945), “Among My Souvenirs” (1947) and “Saturday Rag” (1952). Billy retired from music in the late ’50s and during the ’60s ran a pub, The Green Dragon in Barnet with his wife Ivy (who he’d been married to since 1923). He died in 1971.
- Mona Lisa by Roma’s Accordion Band (Released by Imperial (2653) in 1932). Roma’s Accordion band was another band name used as a pseudonym by Harry Bidgood, alongside Primo Scala and Don Porto. Harry Bidgood was born in London in 1898. He was also musical director on several George Formby films. He was still broadcasting regularly as Primo Scala up to his death in November 1957. Other releases as Roma’s Accordion band include “Leave me alone with my dreams” and “Same old Moon”.
- Yesterday by The Radio Imps (Released by Imperial (1732) in 1927) The Radio Imps were a duo, comprising Gerald Underhill Macy and Ed Smalle. Their recording career lasted for around four years between 1926 and 1930 and other recordings include “Where do you work-a John?” (1926), “Hello! Swanee, Hello! (1927), “Constantinople” (1928), “Big City Blues” (1929), and “Ain’t life a load of happiness” (1930). Ed Smalle (1887-1968) also recorded under his own name and with Radio Aces, The Arkansas Trio, The Merrymakers, The Revellers and The Singing Sophomores. Gerald Underhill Macy (1891-1961) also recorded with Duke Yellman’s Orchestra, and was in Radio Aces with Ed Smalle.
- Alone by Gracie Fields (Released by Rex Records (8768) in 1936.) Gracie Fields was born 9 January 1898 in Rochdale and christened Grace Stansfield. She made her first stage appearance at the age of 7 and made her first recordings for His Master’s Voice in 1928, recording one of her biggest hits, “Sally” for them in 1931. Other recordings for His Master’s Voice include “Like the big pots do” (1929), “Painting the clouds with sunshine” (1930), “Just One More Chance” (1931) and “Rochdale Hounds” (1932). In 1935 she moved to Rex Records, her first release for the label being “When I grow too old to dream”/”Turn ‘Erbert’s face to the wall, Mother”. Further Rex releases included “Red Sails in the sunset” (1935), “Did your Mother come from Ireland ?” (1936) and “Lambeth Walk” (1938). She recorded for both Rex and Regal Zonophone until moving to Decca in 1941. During this time, of course, she also appeared in several films, including “Sally in our alley” (1931), “Sing as we go!” (1934), “Look up and laugh” (1935), “Queen of hearts” (1936), and “Shipyard Sally” (1939). Gracie spent most of her later life living on the Isle of Capri where she died on 27th September 1979. Two years before her death she appeared on the Parkinson TV programme in a lengthy interview which can be seen on You Tube Here .
- Goodnight Vienna by Robert Chester (Released by Eclipse (291) in 1932.) Robert Chester recorded two other records for the Eclipse label, “A King of the road am I”, and “You are my heart’s delight” but otherwise very little is known about him. Some sources say Robert Chester was a pseudonym for the actor Darroll Richards, however this is unconfirmed.
- Only You by Oscar Rabin and his Strict Tempo Band (Released by Decca (F. 8240) in 1942.) Oscar Rabin was born in Latvia in 1899, and his family emigrated to the UK when he was a child. He began learning music as a child, becoming a professional musician at the age of 15 and attended the Guildhall School of Music. After serving in the First World War, he formed The Romany Five with Harry Davis in 1922, playing violin. Over the next few years the band expanded and took Oscar’s name, and he switched to playing bass saxophone. Records released by Oscar Rabin include “Hold me” (1933), “Deep in a dream” (1939), “Dancing in the dark” (1941), “Deep in the heart of Texas” (1943), “Moonlight Serenade” (1946), and “Cherokee” (1949). Oscar Rabin died in 1958.
- Sweet Fanny Adams by The Two Leslies (Released by Regal Zonophone (MR 1922) in 1935.) The Two Leslies comprised Leslie Sarony (See Podcast 1 blog) and Leslie Holmes (Born in Newcastle upon Tyne, 1902, died in Hove, 1960.). Holmes, like Sarony, was a singer of novelty songs (and covered many of Sarony’s compositions) although not as prolific or successful. His solo recordings included “I’ve gone and lost my little Yo-Yo”,”The old kitchen kettle”,”Ask me another”(all 1932),”What do you give a nudist on her birthday?”(1934) and “Winter draws on”(1935). The pair joined forces in 1935 and performed as a duo until 1946. The Two Leslies records included “The New Sow”, “The Campbells are coming”, “I’m a little prairie flower” and “So ‘Andsome”.
- Dinner at Eight by Jack Payne and His Band (Released by Imperial (2919) in 1933.) Jack Payne was born on 22 August 1899 and began his musical career playing piano while serving in the Royal Air Force during World War One. During the ’20s he moved to London and joined a band which became the house band at London’s Hotel Cecil. Appearances on BBC Radio followed and in 1928 Payne became the BBC Director of Dance Music and the leader of the BBC’s first official dance band. They made many records, including “Riding on a camel” (1929), “On her doorstep last night” (1929), “Sittin’ on a five barred gate” (1930) and “Goodnight sweetheart” (1931) and also appeared in the films “Say it with music” (1932) and “Sunshine ahead” (1936). Jack Payne died on 4 December 1969.
- Avalon by The Black Diamonds Band (Released by Zonophone (2115) in 1921.) The Black Diamonds Band were one of the first recorded acts, making records as early as 1904 (initially on one sided Zonophone releases). They had a lengthy career, into the early ’30s although it is unclear if the band remained the same throughout these years or whether the name was used for recordings by different bands. Other releases by The Black Diamonds Band include “El Capitan March” (1904), “Miss Dixie” (1908), “The Policeman’s Holiday” (1912), “We all went marching home” (1915), “Amazon River of Dreams” (1921), “In a Clockmaker’s shop” (1929) and “Washington Post March” (1932).
- Mama by Oscar Denes and Lizzi Waldmuller (Released by His Master’s Voice (B 3946) in 1931). Oscar Denes was born in Magyarkeszi, Austria-Hungary in 1891, and died in 1950. As an actor he appeared in “Ben Kolumbusz” (1921), “Victoria and her Hussar” (1931, from which “Mama” is taken) and “Roxy Und Das Wunderteam” (1938). Lizzi Waldmuller was born in Knittelfeld, Styria, Austria in 1904, and died in 1945. She appeared in many films, including “Love at first sight ” (1932), “Peer Gynt” (1934), “Bel Ami” (1939), “Traummusik” (1940) and “The Night in Venice” (1942).