- Did your mother come from Ireland? by Joe Petersen (Released by Rex Records (8949) in 1936). Although promoted as a boy singer, Master Joe Petersen was in fact female, his/her real identity being Mary O’Rourke, born in Helensburgh, Scotland, in 1913. In 1915 the family moved to Glasgow, and as a child Mary and her brother Joe entertained family and friends with their singing. Mary left school at 14 and began work, as well as singing locally in music halls. In 1930 she moved to London, intent on a career in music. In London she stayed with her Uncle, Ted Stebbings, who was an entertainer and impressario himself. Boy singers were popular at the time and Ted had several boy singers on his books but had the problem that their voices broke, ending their careers. It was Ted who had the idea of Mary impersonating a boy to solve this problem. Although initially reticent, she agreed and Joe Petersen was born. She initially recorded with Harry Bidgood’s dance band, before signing to Rex Records in 1934, releasing dozens of records for them over the next eight years, including “Just a little grey haired lady” (1934), “Old Mammy mine” (1935), “It’s a sin to tell a lie” (1936), “I’m sending a letter to Santa Claus” (1939), and “When they sound the last all clear” (1941). She also recorded under the names Wilfred Eaton and Michael Dawnay. By the late 1930s Joe was one of the biggest stars in the UK, but behind the scenes things were not so good, Mary being trapped in an unhappy marriage, a situation which led her to turn to drink for solace. The second world war hit the record industry badly, and she made no further records after 1942. After the war her appearances were mainly limited to Scotland. Mary battled alcoholism for the rest of her life, but was still performing as Joe as late as 1963. She died on December 24th, 1964.
- My girl’s an Irish girl by Bing Crosby (Released by Brunswick (03882) in 1948). 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.)
- Laughing Irish Eyes by Billy Cotton and his Band (Released by Regal Zonophone (MR 2189) in 1936). 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.
- Smiling Irish Eyes by Gerald Adams (Released by Regal (G 9428) in 1929). Gerald Adams was active in the recording world in the 1920s and early ’30s, His other records include “Only a broken heart” (1920), “Omaha” (1921), “Sanctuary” (1922), “Maggie McGhee” (1925), “Oh, how I miss you tonight” (1926), “The song is ended” (1928), “Daisy Bell (A bicycle made for two)” (1930) and “You will remember Vienna” (1931).
- Danny Boy (Londonderry Air) by Dennis O’Neil (Released by Edison Bell Radio (1399) in 1930). Dennis O’Neil was an Irish actor and singer, born in 1886, who came to prominence in the 1910s. His other records include “Sometimes you’ll remember” (1916), and “Terence’s Farewell” (1931). He appeared in the films “No Lady” (1931), “Danny Boy” (1934), “Barnacle Bill” (1935) and “Father O’Flynn” (1935). He died in 1952.
- Killarney is Calling to me by The Hottentots (Released by Eclipse (218) in 1932). The Hottentots were a pseudonym of the Jay Wilbur band (see Podcast 13 blog-January 2017 for more info on Jay Wilbur.) As The Hottentots they recorded several records on Eclipse, including “Sweet Jennie Lee”, “In Geneva with Eva”, “Whistling In The Dark” and “When Yuba Plays The Rumba On The Tuba”.
- When It’s Moonlight by Killarney by The Biltmore Players (Released by Eclipse (30) in 1931). Like The Hottentots, The Biltmore Players were a pseudonym for the Jay Wilbur band. Their other releases for Eclipse included “Good Friends”, “When it’s night time in Nevada”, “Prosperity Song”, “Elizabeth” and “The Waltz you saved for me”.
- Jigs by Leo Rowsome (Released by HMV (B.D. 1312) in 1950. Leo Rowsome was born in Dublin in 1903. Both his Father and Grandfather played the Uilleann pipes (Irish bagpipes), and Leo learned to play as a child, becoming a teacher at the Dublin school of music at the age of 16. His Father made and mended pipes, and Leo took over the business when his Father died. In the early ’20s he became the first piper to perform on Irish National Radio, and in 1933 became the first Irish artist to appear on BBC TV. He recorded for Imperial, Columbia, Decca and His Master’s Voice, and was active musically up to his death in 1970.
- There’s a little bit of Irish by Joe Lynch (Released by Beltona (BE 2668) in 1956). Joe Lynch was born in 1925 in County Cork, Ireland. Mainly known as an actor, in the 1950s he also had a radio show and a brief singing career, his other records including “Pretty little Galway girl”, “By the banks of the calm winding Feale”, “The pride of Tipperary”, and “Homes of Donegal”. As an actor, he came to prominence during the ’60s and ’70s, appearing in films such as “Girl with green eyes” (1964), “Ulysses” (1967), “Loot” (1970), and “The Outsider” (1979), and in TV Series such as “Compact” (1964), “Never mind the quality, feel the width” (1967-1971), “The Frighteners” (1973), “Rule Britannia!” (1975) and “Coronation Street” (1978-1980). He was a regular in the 1990s on the Irish TV series “Glenroe”, making his last appearance in 2000. He died in 2001.
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).
- Dreaming by Flanagan and Allen (Released by Decca (F. 5802) in 1945). (From the 1944 film “Dreaming”). Flanagan and Allen comprised Bud Flanagan (1896-1968), and Chesney Allen (1893-1982). They were both solo stage performers until paired together in 1926 in a Florrie Forde stage show, their career really taking off when they were booked to play the Holborn Empire by Val Parnell in 1929. Their fame grew over the next few years and in 1932 they signed to the Columbia label, releasing such records as “Do you recall”, “Oi!”, “Home Town” and “Down and out blues” over the next 7 years. In 1939 they moved to the Decca label and achieved even greater success with records such as “Run Rabbit Run”, (with its flip side “(We’re Gonna Hang Out) The Washing On The Siegfried Line”), “If A Grey Haired Lady Says How’s Your Father”, “Down Forget Me Not Lane” and “Underneath The Arches”. During this time they also appeared in several films, including “A Fire Has Been Arranged” (1934), “Underneath The Arches” (1937), “Gasbags” (1940) “We’ll Smile Again” (1942), “Theatre Royal” (1943) and “Here Comes The Sun” (1946). The pair were also part of The Crazy Gang, a group of six performers who appeared on stage and in films. Chesney Allen appeared less frequently with them after 1945 due to ill health and retired towards the end of the ’50s. Bud Flanagan carried on working until his death in 1968, ther last thing he recorded being the theme tune to the TV Series “Dad’s Army”, still popular to this day. Chesney Allen died in 1982. The Film “Dreaming” was directed by John Baxter, and as well as Flanagan and Allen, starred Hazel Court, Dick Francis and Philip Wade.
- I’ll String Along With You by Phyllis Robins (Released by Rex Records (8319) in 1934). (From the film “Twenty Million Sweethearts”.) Phyllis Robins was born in Sheffield (UK) in 1910. She became a singer and actress, her other records including “Little Man, You’ve Had A Busy Day”, “My Kid’s A Crooner (Boo-Boo-Boo-Boo)”, “His Majesty The Baby” and “Crash! Bang! (The Blackout Song)” and her films including “Murder at the Cabaret” (1936), “Cavalcade of Variety” (1940), “Gaiety George” (1946), and “They made me a fugitive” (1947). She died in 1982. “Twenty Million Sweethearts” was directed by Ray Enright and starred Dick Powell, Ginger Rogers, Pat O’Brien, and Allen Jenkins.
- Broadway Rhythm by Carroll Gibbons and The Savoy Hotel Orpheans (Released by Columbia (FB 1202) in 1936.) (From the film “Broadway Melody of 1936). Carroll Gibbons was born in Clinton, Massachusetts, US, in 1903, but became popular as a musician and bandleader in the UK, having studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He became the leader of the Savoy Hotel Orpheans in 1932 and remained so until his death in 1954. He recorded many records for Columbia with the Orpheans, including “On The Air” (1932), “Cocktails For Two” (1934), “These Foolish Things” (1936), “A Foggy Day” (1937), “Begin The Beguine” (1939), “I’m Gonna Get Lit Up” (1943) and “I’ll Remember April” (1945). Gibbons also appeared in several films, including “I Adore You” (1933), “Call me Mame” (1933), “Hello, Sweetheart” (1935), and “The Common Touch” (1941). “Broadway Melody of 1936” was directed by Roy Del Ruth and starred Jack Benny, Eleanor Powell, Robert Taylor and Una Merkel.
- I Could Have Danced All Night by Jeannie Carson (Released by Columbia (DB 4125) in 1958). (From the film “My Fair Lady”). Jeannie Carson was born in May 1928 in Yorkshire (with the rather splendid birth name of Jean Shufflebottom), and is one of the rare people featured on the 78Man podcasts who are still with us, living with her husband of 57 years in Los Angeles. She made her film debut in 1948, in “A Date With A Dream”, but her career really took off when she appeared in the stage musical “Love For Judy” in London in 1952. This led to her being offered TV work in the US-she appeared in the TV movie “Best Foot Forward” in 1954, and hosted her own TV Series “Hey, Jeannie!” in 1956. Over the next decade or so she worked in both the US and UK, before settling in America with second husband Biff McGuire, appearing in Seattle Repertory for 15 years. “My Fair Lady” was directed by George Cukor and starred Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Stanley Holloway and Gladys Cooper. Jeannie Carson had a fleeting uncredited appearance in the film.
- Sleepy Head by Chick Bullock (Released by Rex Records (8281) in 1934). (From the film “Spy 13”) Chick Bullock was born in Montana, USA in 1898, and began his career in vaudeville before becoming a successful recording artiste in the early ’30s. His other records include “I’m in the market for you” (1930), “Let me sing and I’m happy” (1930), “The Night When Love Was Born” (1932), “Learn to croon” (1933), “She’s A Latin From Manhattan” (1935), “The Music Goes ‘Round And Around” (1936), “Stairway To The Stars” (1939), and “Amapola (Pretty Little Poppy)” (1941). His recording career petered out in the early ’40s and he retired from music, becoming involved in real estate. He died in 1981. “Spy 13” (also known as “Operator 13”) was directed by Richard Boleslawski, and starred Marion Davies, Gary Cooper and Jean Parker.
- I’ve Got You Under My Skin by Leslie Hutchinson (Released by Parlophone (F 670) in 1937.) (From the film “Born to dance”). Leslie Hutchinson was born in Grenada in 1900. As a child he took piano lessons, before moving to New York at the age of 16, initially to study medicine, but instead joined a band led by Henry “Broadway” Jones and began playing live. In 1924 he moved to Paris and then to the UK in 1927, where he became a huge star. Over the next two decades he made many records for the Parlophone and His Master’s Voice labels, including “Little Man You’ve Had A Busy Day” (1934), “Red Sails In The Sunset” (1935), “These Foolish Things” (1936), “Life Is Nothing Without Music” (1939), “Someone’s Rockin’ My Dreamboat” (1942), and “You Always Hurt The One You Love” (1946). He died in London in 1969. “Born To Dance” was directed by Roy Del Ruth and starred Eleanor Powell, James Stewart and Virginia Bruce.
- The ‘Amstead Way by Tessie O’Shea (Released by Columbia (DB 2232) in 1947 (From the film “London Town”). Tessie O’Shea was born in 1913 in Cardiff, Wales. She began performing as a child and by her teens was a regular on BBC Radio. During the 1930s she adopted “Two Ton Tessie From Tennessee” as her theme song, a reference to her larger size. She recorded the song for Parlophone in 1943, and her other records include “Wish me luck-Kiss me goodbye” (1938), “Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! What A Silly Place To Kiss A Girl” (1938) and “He Said “Kiss Me”” (1939). As time went by Tessie moved from singing to acting and her film appearances include “Holidays with pay” (1948), “The Shiralee” (1957), “The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!” (1966), “The Best House In London” (1969) and “Bedknobs And Broomsticks” (1971). “London Town” was directed by Wesley Ruggles, and, alongside Tessie, starred Sid Field, Petula Clark, Greta Gynt and Kay Kendall.
- Just You Just Me by Jack Hylton and His Band (Released by His Master’s Voice (B 5759) in 1929). (From the film “Marianne”). Jack Hylton was born in July 1892 in Bolton, UK. His Father was an amateur singer, and Jack learnt to play piano to accompany him. Later, Jack started singing himself, in his Father’s pub. In 1922 he released his first records under the name Jack Hylton’s Jazz Band for the Zonophone label, then the following year he moved to His Master’s Voice, where he released dozens of records until 1931, as Jack Hylton and his Orchestra, including “It ain’t gonna rain no mo’” (1924), “Chick, Chick, Chicken” (1925), “Ain’t She Sweet” (1927), “Forty-Seven ginger headed sailors” (1928) and “Mucking about the garden” (1929). In 1931 he moved to Decca Records, where he was a director, where he stayed until 1934, when he re-signed to His Master’s Voice. He continued recording until 1940, and after the war became an impresario, managing new talent and producing theatre, radio and film productions before forming his own TV production company. His TV production credits include “Summer’s Here” (1957), “The Music Box” (1957), “Before Your Very Eyes” (1957/8), “Jack Hylton’s Monday Show” (1958) and “Tell It To The Marines” (1959/60). He died in January 1965. “Marianne” was directed by Robert Z Leonard, and starred Marion Davies, Oscar Shaw and Fred Solm.
- Singin’ In The Bathtub by Alfredo And His Band (Released by Edison Bell Radio (1331) in 1930). (From the film “Show Of Shows”). Alfredo was Alfred Gill, born circa 1892. He began his career as Alfredo, the Vagabond Violinist, before forming his band and recording many records, mainly for the Edison Bell Radio label. These include “My Blue Heaven” (1928), “I’m Thirsty For Kisses, Hungry For Love”, “Mean To Me”, “My Song Of The Nile” (all 1929), “Now I’m In Love”, “Molly”, “King Of Jazz”, and “Cheer Up And Smile ” (all 1930). He split the group in 1930, and apart from a few more records for HMV under the name Alfredo and his Orchestra, didn’t record again. He died in 1966. “Show of shows” was directed by John G Adolphi, and starred Frank Fay, William Courtenay, H B Warner and Hobart Bosworth.
- If I Were Only A Swallow by Gloria Jean (Originally released on Brunswick (2970) in 1940). Gloria Jean was born in Buffalo, New York in 1926. She began her career at an early age, making her radio debut at the age of three, and singing with Paul Whiteman’s band. At the age of 12 she became the youngest person to be engaged by an Opera Company, and at 13 was signed by Universal, and appeared in her first film, The Under-Pup. Further film roles followed, and she starred with Bing Crosby in “If I had my way” (1940), and WC Fields in “Never give a sucker an even break” (1941). By 1949 she had appeared in 23 films. During the ’50s she appeared more on TV and stage than in film, and by the early ’60s film work had dried up. She gave up acting and worked for a cosmetics firm until her retirement.
2. The Blue Danube by Musical Dawson and his Famous Choir of Canaries (Released by Broadcast (910) in 1932). Possibly the epitome of a novelty act, Musical Dawson’s Famous Choir of Canaries nevertheless managed a sustained career, appearing on stage, record and Pathe newsreels from the early ’30’s well into the ’40s. Their other records include “Bells across the meadow”, “Barcarolle”, Love’s old sweet song”, “Londonderry air” and “Liebestraume”. You can see Musical Dawson and his canaries from 1938 in a Pathe film Here
3. The Parrot (On The Fortune Teller’s Hat) by Ethel Smith (Released by Brunswick (3632) in 1946.) Ethel Smith was born in 1902 and began her musical career early in life, becoming an accomplished organist. She travelled widely and while in South America learnt to play Latin music, for which she is best remembered. Her recordings include “Tico-Tico” (1945), “Toca Tu Samba” (1947), “Easter Parade” (1948), “The Harry Lime Theme” (1950), and “I’m walking right behind you” (1953). She died in 1996.
4. The Woody Woodpecker by Anne Shelton (Released by Decca (F 8951) in 1948.) Anne Shelton was born in South London in November 1923, and began singing on the radio show “Monday night at eight” aged 12, gaining a recording contract 3 years later. During the war she appeared many times on the BBC’s forces radio service, often alongside Vera Lynn. After the war she had a regular BBC radio show with band leader Ambrose and then her popularity spread to America, and she toured the US in 1951. In 1956 she had a UK number one single with “Lay down your arms”. She made regular appearances on radio and TV all through the ’50s and ’60s; in 1961 she hosted her own TV show, “Ask Anne”. In 1978 she appeared on the Royal Variety Performance, and in 1984 presented a TV tribute to Glen Miller. She continued performing until her death in July 1994.
5. Goosey Gander by Woody Herman and his Orchestra (Released by Parlophone (R 2990) in 1946). Woody Herman was born in 1913 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. He began as a child performer, singing and tap dancing, before learning to play the clarinet and saxophone. He joined the Tom Gerun band as singer before fronting his own band which signed with Decca Records in 1936. It was, however, two and a half years before they scored their first hit with “Woodchopper’s Ball” in 1939. Other hits followed, such as “Blues in the night” (1942), “Do Nothing till you hear from me” (1943 ) ,and “The Music stopped” (1944). Although Herman’s heyday was in the ’40s and ’50s, he continued performing up to his death in 1987.
6. The Ugly Duckling by Danny Kaye (Released by Brunswick (5031) in 1952) Danny Kaye was born (as David Daniel Kaminsky) in Brooklyn, New York in 1911. In his early 20s he joined a vaudeville dance act, The Three Terpsichoreans, with whom he toured America and Asia. In the mid to late ’30s, now a solo act, he worked on stage and appeared in a few short films. His growing success on Broadway led to his first feature film, “Up in arms” in 1944, which led to a series of successful films, including “The secret life of Walter Mitty” (1947), “On the Riviera” (1951), “Hans Christian Anderson” (1952), “White Christmas” (1954) and “Merry Andrew” (1958). At the same time he also had a successful radio and recording career, his records including “Tubby the Tuba” (1948), “I’ve got a lovely bunch of cocoanuts” (1949), “Love me or leave me” (1950), “Wonderful Copenhagen” (1952) and “I love you fair dinkum (Dinky di I do)” (1955). In the ’50s and ’60s he moved into television, including his own “Danny Kaye Show” (1963-1967), as well as appearing on “What’s my line?” and “Here’s Hollywood”. He died in 1987.
7. Cuckoo by Leslie Sarony (Released by His Master’s Voice (B. 2391) in 1927. Leslie Sarony was born in Surbiton, Surrey on 22 January 1897 and was Christened Leslie Legge Tate Frye. After serving in the first world war, he took his Mother’s maiden name as his surname and began a long career in entertainment, which took in radio appearances, appearances in films (the first being Hot Water and Vegetabuel in 1928), and recordings of mainly humourous songs, many of which he wrote himself. According to the sleeve notes of his 1980 album “Roy Hudd presents Leslie Sarony”, Leslie said “I recorded for every company in the country”, and there are a bewildering amount of 78s on a multitude of different labels to collect. The same sleeve notes state that there were over 350 Leslie Sarony recordings, but that he recorded many more under assumed names (including Layton and Victor Payne). Some of Leslie’s best known songs from this time include “Jollity farm” (later covered by The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band), “Ain’t it grand to be bloomin’ well dead”, “I lift up my finger and say “Tweet Tweet”” (also recorded by Gracie Fields among others), “Fourteen Rollicking Sailors” and “Rhymes”. In 1934 he teamed up with Leslie Holmes to form The Two Leslies, a partnership which lasted until 1946. Apart from the previously mentioned Roy Hudd album, Leslie stopped recording in 1939 and later moved into acting, appearing in TV shows such as The Passing show (1951), Dial 999 (1959), Crossroads (1964), Steptoe and Son (1965), Z-Cars (1962 and 1969), Nearest and dearest (1969), The Sweeney (1975), I didn’t know you cared (1979), Minder (1982) and Victoria Wood as seen on TV (1985). He also appeared in the Monty Python short film “The Crimson Permanent Insurance” (1983). Throughout his life he had a lengthy stage career, lasting from around 1922 right up to his death, on February 12th 1985, aged 88. Here he is in a British Pathe film from 1932 : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ywR6IqaVcU
8. Aint Nobody Here But Us Chickens by Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five (Released by Brunswick (3778) in 1947). Louis Jordan was born in July 1908, in Arkansas, USA, into a musical family, his father being a music teacher. He learnt the clarinet at an early age, playing with his father’s band. In the early ’30s he began playing with the Clarence Williams band, and in 1936 joined the Savoy Ballroom Orchestra, where he became lead male singer (alongside Ella Fitzgerald). Two years later Jordan went solo with his own band, who were initially called the Elks Rendezvous band, before changing to the Tympany Five. They signed to Decca in the US, and over the next 15 years released many records, including “Mama Mama Blues” (1941), “G.I. Jive” (1944), “That chick’s too young to fry” (1946), “Pettin’ and Pokin'” (1947), “Saturday night fish fry” (1949), “Dad gum ya hide, boy” (1954), and “I want you to be my baby” (1955). After declining popularity in the early ’50s, he left Decca in 1954,and had a series of short lived recording contracts on smaller labels, never regaining his previous popularity. He died in 1975.
9. When The Swallows Say Goodbye by The Stargazers (Released by Decca (F. 10696) in 1955). The Stargazers were formed in 1949 by Cliff Adams and Ronnie Milne. Dick James, later a solo singer and then music publisher for The Beatles, was also an original member. The group went on to big success in the UK-their first two hits were number 1s- “Broken Wings” in 1953 and “I see the moon” in 1954 and they also backed Dickie Valentine on the 1954 number 1 “The Finger of suspicion”. Other hits included “The Happy Wanderer” (1954), “Close the door” (1955), and “Hot Diggity (Dog Ziggity Boom” (1956). The group also served as backing singers on recordings by many artists including Petula Clark, Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra and Jo Stafford.
Interlude Record : Nightingales recorded in Beatrice Harrison’s garden, Oxted. (Released by HMV (B. 2469) in 1927). Beatrice Harrison was born to British parents in India in 1892. The family moved back to the UK and Beatrice studied at the Royal College of Music in London. She became an accomplished cellist, and became known for her performances of the works of Delius, being the first performer of his Cello Sonata in 1918, and his Cello Concerto in 1921. Her garden in Oxted was home to many nightingales, and she made radio broadcasts from her garden playing cello accompanied by birdsong. She died in 1965.