- Let’s Sing the Song Father used to Sing by The Hottentots (Released by Eclipse (105) in 1931). The Hottentots were a pseudonym of the Jay Wilbur band. 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”.
- If a Grey Haired Lady Says How’s Your Father by Jay Wilbur and His Band (Released by Rex Records (8691) in 1936). Jay Wilbur was born (as Wilbur Blinco) in 1898. He learned piano and by 1928 had his own band, which was resident at the Tricity Hotel in London. He made his first recordings for the Dominion label, where he became musical director-his records for Dominion included “Spread a little happiness”, “Button up your overcoat” and “When Niccolo plays the Piccolo”. He moved to the Imperial label in 1931, then onto Rex Records in 1933, where he continued to record for over a decade. His Rex releases include “The wedding of Mr. Mickey Mouse”, “Sweetmeat Joe, the candy man”, “The down and out blues” and “Someone’s rocking my dreamboat”. After a brief period with Decca, he stopped recording in the late ’40s. He was also a popular radio star, appearing on BBC radio from 1936 onwards, with the programmes “Melody from the sky” and “Hi Gang!”. In later years he lived in South Africa, and died there in 1968.
- I’m a Daddy at 63 by Charlie Higgins (Released by Rex Records (8065) in 1933). Charlie Higgins was born circa 1897, and began his entertainment career as part of a duo called “The King’s Jesters” in 1923. In 1925 he went solo, appearing in the Revue “Magnets” at the Hippodrome in Devonport. He began his recording career in 1930 on the Broadcast label, where his records included “With Me Gloves In Me ‘And”, “Down In The Field Where The Buttercups Grow”, “Charlie’s Breach Of Promise Case”, and “Down In The Old Churchyard”. He then moved to Rex Records, where his releases included “Where The Violets Are Blue-oo And The Roses Are Red” and “Charlie Makes Whoopee”. He made a few appearances on BBC Radio and Television in 1936 and 1937, but after that his career was confined to stage work, until his retirement in the mid 50s.He died in 1978.
- Dream Daddy by Oliver Dance Band
- Beat Me Daddy Eight To The Bar by The Andrews Sisters (Released by Brunswick (03082) in 1940). The Andrews Sisters were Laverne (July 6, 1911 – May 8, 1967), Maxene (January 3, 1916 – October 21, 1995), and Patty (February 16, 1918 – January 30, 2013). They began performing together in the mid ’20s but only really came to prominence in 1937, after being signed by Decca. During the ’40s they spent a lot of time entertaining the troops while the Second World War was on, and recorded many records with Bing Crosby. Patty left to start a solo career in 1953, which led to a temporary split, but the trio reformed in 1956 and went on to make many more records before Laverne’s death in 1967. The remaining pair of sisters, Maxene and Patty briefly re-united on Broadway in the ’70s but never really worked together professionally again.
- Put A Bit of Powder On It Father by Billy Williams (Released by Homophon (6752) circa 1913). Billy Williams was born Richard Banks in Australia in 1878, but moved to the UK in 1899, becoming an entertainer and changing his name to Billy Williams. He made his first recordings in 1906 and over the next 9 years became a huge star and prolific recording artiste, making over 500 recordings. He billed himself as “The Man in the Velvet Suit”. He died in March 1915 aged 37. Among his most famous records are “When Father papered the parlour”, “Little Willie’s Woodbines” “Save a little bit for me”, “Come into the garden, John”, and “John go and put your trousers on”.
- When Father tried to kill the Cock-a-doodle-doo by Billy Williams (Released by Zonophone (511) in 1911).
- Tell Your Father, Tell Your Mother (That I’m Good Enough For You) by Leslie Sarony (Released by Imperial (2790) in 1932).If Leslie Sarony is remembered at all today, it is usually for writing “Jollity Farm” (covered by The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band on their 1967 album “Gorilla”) or “Ain’t it grand to be bloomin’ well dead”, still a popular song at funerals (and the first record to be banned by the BBC on the grounds of taste), but from the late ’20s to the end of the ’30s he was one of the UK’s most popular singers, releasing hundreds of songs on a plethora of labels, initially as a solo artist and later as part of The Two Leslies, with Leslie Holmes. Sarony was born (as Leslie Legge Frye, his stage name of Sarony being his Mother’s maiden name) in January 1897. He began appearing on stage as a teenager but his singing career was cut short by World War One. Having survived the war he returned to the stage but it wasn’t until 1926 that he began his recording career. Over the ensuing decade and a half he recorded for Imperial, Eclipse (the Woolworths label), Victory, His Master’s Voice, Regal Zonophone, Edison Bell Radio, Rex and Parlophone among others. Making sense of the Sarony discography is a hard task, as he often recorded for different labels simultaneously, even recording multiple versions of the same song for different labels. He wrote many of his best known songs himself- “Rhymes” (covered by The Goons when they briefly reformed in the ’70s), “Gorgonzola”, “I lift up my finger and I say Tweet Tweet” “Over the garden wall” (the latter two covered by Gracie Fields), “Mucking about the garden” and “Tom thumb’s drum”. Many singers of the time recorded cover versions of Leslie’s songs. As well as writing his own songs he also covered some of the best comic songs of the day-“All by yourself in the moonlight”, “Hunting tigers out in India” (another Bonzos cover), “The old kitchen kettle” and “He played his ukulele as the ship went down” along with the lesser known classics “There’s a song they sing at a sing song in Sing Sing” and “When H’I was H’out in H’India”. What’s great about these rarely heard recordings is that 80 odd years later they’re still funny, if perhaps not always as politically correct as would be acceptable today! In 1933 Sarony teamed up with Leslie Holmes (a fellow singer of novelty songs, known as “the man with the smiling voice”) and for the next 12 years they performed as The Two Leslies recording many records such as “Sweet Fanny Adams”, “I’m a little prarie flower”, “Miss Porkington would like cream puffs” and “Umpa Umpa (stick it up your jumper)” (a phrase used at the end of The Beatles’ “I am the walrus”-wonder if John Lennon had heard the record?)Apart from an album made by Roy Hudd in 1980, Sarony didn’t record commercially after 1940 but was constantly working on stage and TV both as a singer and actor-he had appeared in several films during the ’30s and ’40s and later acted on TV shows such as Nearest and Dearest, The Gaffer, I didn’t know you cared and Minder. He worked into his 80s, appearing in Paul McCartney’s film “Give my regards to Broad Street” in 1984 and the Monty Python short “The Crimson Permanent Assurance” in 1983. Leslie died on Feb 12th 1985, and his final two TV appearances-cameos in an episode of the first series of Victoria Wood As seen on TV, and an episode of “There comes a time” (a short lived comedy starring Andrew Sachs) both aired posthumously.
There are now 4 volumes of “78Man Presents Leslie Sarony” available on most major streaming and download sites as well as on CD, each volume contains 20 tracks, many not commercially available for over 80 years. In addition, the album “Songs that Leslie Sarony taught us” features 20 cover versions of songs written by Sarony. CDs can be ordered HERE
9. Don’t Sell Daddy Any More Whiskey by Matty O’Neill (Released by London (HL. 1037) in 1951). Little is known about Matty O’Neill, other than there was a follow up to this record, called “Whiskey took my Daddy away”, also in 1951.
- I’m 21 Today by Jack Pleasants (Released by The Winner (2089) in 1912) Jack Pleasants was born in Bradford in 1874 and was a music hall star of the early 20th century, billed as “The Bashful Limit”. His other recordings include “Where do the flies go in Winter”, “Feeding the ducks on the pond”, “Watching the trains come in”, and “I deserve a good slapping”. He died in 1924.
- Always Jolly by Billy Whitlock (Released by Beka-Grand Record (203) in 1912) Billy Whilock was born Frederick Penna in 1874, in Cheltenham. He began his recording career in the early 1910s, and continued recording into the 1940s. Other recordings include “Chuckles” (1915),”Billy Whitlock’s Aeroplane” (1926), and “Scotch Hot” (1949). Whilock was, like Charles Penrose, a singer of “laughing” songs and he teamed up with Penrose for some recordings, including “The Yuletide Coach” (1925) and “Two old sports” (1920). Whitlock died in 1951.
- Squeeze her Ebeneezer by Billy Williams (Released by Zonophone (1012) in 1913) Billy Williams was born Richard Banks in Australia in 1878, but moved to the UK in 1899, becoming an entertainer and changing his name to Billy Williams. He made his first recordings in 1906 and over the next 9 years became a huge star and prolific recording artiste, making over 500 recordings. He died in March 1915 aged 37. Among his most famous records are “When Father papered the parlour”, “Little Willie’s Woodbines” and “John go and put your trousers on”.
- The Wibbly Wobbly Walk by Fred Elliott (Released by Scala (305) in 1913) Fred Elliott was actually a pseudonym for Jack Charman (see below). Other recordings under this name include “Hush! Here comes the dream man” and “You taught me how to love you”.
- Cohen on telephone deportment by Joe Hayman (Released in 1913) Joe Hayman was born Joseph Hyman in the US in 1876, and for a while partnered with a young Harry Houdini. After they split, Hyman added an a to his surname and shortened his first name to become Joe Hayman, and moved to the UK where he recorded “Cohen on the telephone” in 1913 for Regal Records. In the US it was released by Columbia and became the first record to sell a million copies. This success inevitably led to the recording of several sequels, including “Cohen calls his tailor on the phone” (1918), “Cohen ‘phones for a phone” (1923), and “Cohen phones the gas co.”. Hayman died in 1957.
- Hello, hello, who’s your lady friend by Jack Charman (Released by Coliseum (662) in 1914). Jack Charman was actively recording from around 1911-1924 and his other recordings include “He played on his fiddle-dee-dee”, “Hello old whats-a-name”, “Father went down to Southend”, and “Who were you with last night?”.
- Take me back to dear old Blighty by Florrie Forde (Released by Zonophone (1725) in 1916. For more information on Florrie Forde see blog for Podcast number 1 (March 2016).
- I had no mother to guide me by George Formby (Senior) (Released by Zonophone (1831) in 1917. For more information on George Formby Senior see blog for Podcast number 8 (September 2016).
- Sensation Rag by Original Dixieland Jazz Band.(Released by U.S. Victor 18483, 1918). The Original Dixieland Jass Band (as they were originally known) formed in 1916 and made their first recordings in 1917, when “Livery stable blues” became the first ever jazz record. Over the next few years the band made many recordings and were so successful they spawned a boom in jazz music. Other recordings include “Tiger Rag” (probably their best known record), “Skeleton Jangle”, “At the Jazz band ball”, and “I’m forever blowing bubbles”. The band broke up in the late ’20s but reformed in 1936 and carried on with varying line ups during the ’40s and ’50s.
- Please by The Blue Mountaineers (Released in 1932 by Broadcast Four Tune). “Please” was a hit for Bing Crosby in 1932, and it’s a song which made a big impression on the young John Lennon over a decade later. The first line of the song goes “Oh Please, lend your little ears to my pleas” and John, a big reader and interested in words, was fascinated by the double meaning of the words please/pleas. This influenced him later when he came to write the song “Please Please Me”. 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!”.
- Ain’t she sweet by Eddie Sheldon (Released by Edison Bell Winner (4631) in 1927.) “Ain’t she sweet” was a popular song when it was first released in 1927, with multiple versions recorded. The song remained popular and was covered in 1956 by Gene Vincent, and it was this version that The Beatles covered in their early live sets, including when they played in Hamburg starting in 1960. In 1961 while still in Germany they scored a recording contract with Polydor, mainly as backing band for Tony Sheridan, but one of the songs recorded was their version of “Ain’t she sweet” with vocals by John Lennon. Unreleased at the time, it was released as a single in the UK in 1964, reaching number 29. Eddie Sheldon was active as a singer in the late ’20s but didn’t have a lasting career. Other recordings by him include “Let me call you sweetheart”,”Meet me at Twilight” and “Shepherd of the hills”.
- I wish I could shimmy like my sister Kate by Muggsy Spanier and his Ragtime Band (Released by His Master’s Voice (B 9047) in 1940). “I wish I could shimmy like my Sister Kate” was written in 1919 by Clarence Williams and Armand Piron. The song became a jazz standard and was revived in 1960 by The Olympics-it was probably this version that prompted The Beatles to start covering the song in their arduous Hamburg stage act, where they were expected to play for hours on end every night. They were still playing it when they were recorded live in Hamburg in December 1962, a recording subsequently released for the first time in 1977 (and many times since). Muggsy Spanier was born in Chicago in 1901 and went on to make his name as a cornet player in several Dixieland Jazz bands. During his career he worked with other legendary jazz musicians such as Earl Hines, Fats Waller, Sidney Bechet and Bob Crosby. He died in 1967.
- Falling in love again by Jack Leon’s Dance Band (Released by Piccadilly (617) in 1930. “Falling in love again” was written in 1930 by Friedrich Hollaender and originally had German lyrics. The English lyrics were written by Sammy Lerner. The song was famously sung by Marlene Dietrich in the film The Blue Angel, and became a standard. The Beatles played it in their Hamburg sets and it’s another song captured on their live Hamburg tape. Jack Leon made several records in the late ’20s and early ’30s, including “Pagan love song”, “On the sunny side of the street” and “I want to be bad”.
- Robin Hood by Dick James (Released by Parlophone (R 4117) in 1956). George Martin started working for EMI’s Parlophone label in 1950 and was responsible for producing many of the records released on the label from then on; in 1955 he was promoted to head of the label. One of his successes was this recording in 1956 by Dick James, born in 1920 and a professional singer since 1940. As his singing career petered out in the late ’50s, James turned to music publishing, starting his own Dick James Music publishing company in 1961.Through his friendship with Martin, he became involved with The Beatles’ publishing-their Northern Songs company was administered via Dick James Music, although the relationship soured towards the end of the ’60s. Dick James began his own record label (DJM) and had huge success with Elton John in the ’70s. He died in 1986.
- Raunchy by Billy Vaughan and his Orchestra (Released by London (HLD 8522) in 1957. “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.American Billy Vaughan was born in 1919 and learnt to play several instruments as a child but it was not until after the end of World War 2 that he decided to make a career as a musician. He had success in the early ’50s as a member of The Hilltoppers, then began working for Dot Records as music director and started his own orchestra, going on to have over 40 hits in the US, although he had little success in the UK. He died in 1991.
- In the middle of the house by Alma Cogan (Released by His Master’s Voice (POP 261) in 1956). Alma Cogan was born in 1932 in London. She began singing as a child, and at 14 was recommended by Vera Lynn for a variety show in Brighton. By the age of 20 she had been signed to HMV, and had her first hit with “Bell Bottom Blues” in 1954. Many UK hits followed, including the number 1 “Dreamboat” in 1955. “In the middle of the house” made number 20 in 1956. Her popularity began to wane in the UK in the early ’60s, although she remained popular overseas. Alma met The Beatles at a recording of the TV show “Ready Steady Go!” in 1964 and became friends with them, being especially close to John Lennon who it is alleged she had an affair with. Alma made her last recordings in 1965, which included a couple of Beatles covers, but failing health meant her career started to falter. She made a few public appearances in 1966 but died in October, aged just 34.
- I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter by Billy Williams. “I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter” was written in 1935 by Fred Ahlert and Joe Young and was an immediate hit when recorded by Fats Waller and again the following year when The Boswell Sisters recorded it. Later versions include those by Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Dean Martin. The version by Billy Williams was a major hit in 1957, and became a favourite of the young Paul McCartney, although it doesn’t seem to have been performed by The Beatles/Quarrymen at the time. (Bill Haley & The Comets also recorded a version around this time). Decades later, Paul McCartney finally recorded a version of the song for his 2012 album “Kisses on the bottom” (a title taken from the lyrics to the song). Billy Williams (not to be confued with the Australian Billy Williams of “Little Willie’s Woodbines” fame) was born in Texas in 1910 and was the lead singer of The Charioteers between 1930 and 1950, when he formed his own band. Although he had some smaller hits in the US, “I’m gonna…” was his biggest, and his only hit in the UK. He died in 1972.
- That’ll be the day by The Crickets (Released by Coral (Q 72279) in 1957). Buddy Holly and The Crickets were a big influence on John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison and when, as the Quarrymen, they made their first studio recording in 1958, they chose “That’ll be the day” as one side of the two sided acetate they recorded. (Their version was finally released on the “Anthology 1” album in 1995.) The Crickets hit version of the song was released in 1957, although Holly had recorded a version in 1956 with The Three Tunes. The song was written by Holly and Jerry Allison, although the Crickets version also credits producer Norman Petty, despite him having no hand in writing the song. Buddy Holly was born in 1936 in Lubbock, Texas and had his first hit with “That’ll be the day” in 1957. His career was short as he was killed in an air crash on Feb 3 1959 but in that time he wrote and recorded many classics (“Rave on”, “Peggy Sue”, “It doesn’t matter any more”, “Oh Boy”, “Maybe baby” etc.) and left a legacy which still resonates today.