Tag Archives: Bing Crosby

78Man Podcast Number 29-Ireland

The 29th 78Man Podcast has Ireland as its theme. It can be heard on Itunes Here or on Soundcloud Here. Tracks heard are :

  1. 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.
  2. 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.)
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.
  6. 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”.
  7. 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”.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
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78Man Podcast Number 28-Mothers Day

The 28th 78Man podcast commemorates UK Mothers day which fell on March 11th this year. It can be heard on itunes Here and on Soundcloud Here. Tracks heard are :

  1. 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!”.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

78Man Podcast Number 27-The Beatles 2

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 :

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

78Man Podcast Number 25 – Christmas Again

Podcast Number 25 is the third Christmas podcast. It can be heard on itunes Here or on Soundcloud Here . Tracks heard on the podcast are :

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.

78Man Podcast No. 19-Film Music

This is the first of an occasional series of podcasts featuring music used in films. It can be found on itunes Here or on Soundcloud Here . Tracks heard on the podcast are :

  1.  Well, Did You Evah by Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra (Released by Capitol (CL. 14645) in 1956). From the film “High Society”. Francis Albert Sinatra was born in December 1915 in Hoboken, New Jersey, US. As a teenager he became interested in music, and was a fan of the then up and coming Bing Crosby. He began singing himself and in 1935 joined The 3 Flashes, a vocal group-with the addition of Sinatra they changed their name to the Hoboken Four. They won a major talent contest and began touring the US, with Sinatra gradually becoming the lead singer. In 1939 he began singing with the Harry James band, and made his first recordings with them, although they weren’t big sellers. After about 6 months, frustrated at their lack of success, Sinatra left Harry James and became the singer with the Tommy Dorsey band-it was with Dorsey that he had his first US hit record in April 1940 with “Polka Dots and Moonbeams”. Over the next two years Sinatra scored several other hits with Dorsey’s band, before deciding to go solo in 1942, which led to an acrimonious split. Once solo, Sinatra became America’s biggest singing star, idolised by the teenage “bobby soxers” who made up a large proportion of his fans. He signed to Columbia Records in June 1943, where he stayed for a decade, releasing such hits as “A lovely way to spend an evening” (1945), “Nancy (With the laughing face” (1946), “Goodnight Irene” (1950), and “Hello Young lovers” (1953). Towards the end of his time with Columbia, his popularity began to wane but his career was revitalised by the success of the film “From here to eternity” (released in August 1953), and his new recording contract with Capitol Records. The new contract co-incided with the rise of vinyl records, and in 1954 Sinatra recorded the first of a series of hugely successful albums, “Songs for young lovers” followed by “In the wee small hours”, “Songs for swingin’ lovers”, “A Swingin’ Affair!”, “Come fly with me” and “Nice ‘n’ Easy” among others. Despite his huge success with the label, Sinatra grew disenchanted with Capitol and in 1961 formed his own label, Reprise. Further successful albums and singles followed, including some of his biggest hits- the duet with his daughter Nancy (who also recorded for Reprise), “Something stupid”, and the song he is most associated with to this day, “My Way”. He briefly retired in the early ’70s before returning with another hugely successful album, “Ol’ blue eyes is back” in 1973. During the later ’70s and ’80s his recordings became more sporadic but he continued to play live, mainly in Las Vegas. His final concerts were in Japan in December 1994 and he died in May 1998. “High Society” was directed by Charles Walters and, alongside Frank and Bing, starred Grace Kelly, Celeste Holm and Louis Armstrong.
  2.  The Flies Crawl Up The Window by Jack Hulbert (Released by His Master’s Voice (B 4263) in 1932). From the film “Jack’s the boy”. Jack Hulbert was born in 1892 in Ely, Cambridgeshire. He studied at Cambridge University where he made his first stage appearances in the Cambridge Footlights. After leaving Cambridge he made a name for himself appearing in stage plays and revues. In 1916 he married Cicely Courtneidge, an aspiring actress and they began appearing together regularly. Despite his success on stage he didn’t make his film debut until 1930, when he appeared in Elstree Calling, alongside his wife. He appeared regularly in films from then on, including “The Ghost Train” (1931), “The Camels are Coming” (1934), “Jack of all trades” (1936) and “Under your hat” (1940). He later appeared in many TV films, plays and programmes, including a stint in the BBC soap opera “Compact” in 1964-65, and a cameo in the ITV series “Father dear Father” in 1972. He died in March 1978. “Jack’s the boy” was directed by Walter Forde and starred Hulbert, Cicely Courtneidge, Winifred Shotter and Francis Lister.
  3.  Why Can’t It Happen To Me by Anne Shelton (Released by Decca (F. 8243) in 1942). From the film “King Arthur was a gentleman”. 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 her popularity spread to America, touring the US in 1951. In 1956 she had a UK number one single with “Lay down your arms”. She continued performing until her death in July 1994. “King Arthur was a gentleman” was directed by Marcel Varnel, and also starred Arthur Askey, Ronald Shiner, Max Bacon and Vera Frances.
  4.  I Could Make A Good Living At That by George Formby (Released by Decca (F. 3377) in 1932). From the film “Boots! Boots!”. For more info on George Formby see podcast 8 blog (September 2016). “Boots! Boots!” was Formby’s first film, released in 1934. It was produced by John E. Blakeley and directed by Bert Tracy on a shoestring budget at the Albany studios ( a cramped area with no soundproofing above a garage) in London. By the time of release, Formby’s stage and recording career was beginning to take off, and the film proved to be a huge success. It also starred his wife Beryl, as well as Betty Driver (later of “Coronation Street” fame) and Harry Hudson and his Orchestra. The original film was 80 minutes in length, but a cut down 55 minute version was released in 1938 to capitalise on Formby’s continuing success, and it is this version which was the one seen in future screenings, the original being thought to be lost for decades. The Betty Driver scene was cut from the shortened version, and for many years she denied ever appearing in the film but a complete version was discovered in 1999, which restored her to the film. You can see Betty in the film performing Leslie Sarony’s “The Alpine Milkman” Here (note the close spotlight-due to the cramped conditions in the studio this was the only way they could give the illusion of being in a nightclub).
  5.  Theme From The Man Between by Cyril Stapleton (Released by Decca (F. 10208) in 1953). From the film “The Man Between”. Cyril Stapleton was born in December 1914 in Nottingham, UK. He began playing violin at the age of 7, and by the time he was 12 was playing on local radio. He began playing in Henry Hall’s band, before forming his own orchestra, which began playing regularly on the BBC in 1939. During the war he joined the RAF, and played in the RAF Symphony Orchestra. After the war he briefly played for the London Symphony Orchestra and the Philharmonia Orchestra before reforming his own Orchestra in 1947. Soon signed to Decca, over the next few years The Cyril Stapleton Orchestra released regular records, including “Zip a dee doo dah”, “Lazy Mambo”, “Elephant Tango”, and “Teenage Lullaby”. He continued touring and recording into the ’70s, and died in February 1974. “The Man between” was directed by Carol Reed and starred James Mason, Claire Bloom and Hildegard Knef.
  6.  River Of No Return by Tennessee Ernie Ford (Released by Capitol (CL. 14005) in 1954). From the film of the same name. (For more info on Tennessee Ernie Ford see blog for podcast 12, Dec 2016). “River of no return” was directed by Otto Preminger, and starred Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe.
  7.  Painting The Clouds With Sunshine by Jack Hylton and his Orchestra (Released by His Master’s Voice (B 5722) in 1929). From the film “Gold diggers of Broadway”. 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 Mater’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. He died in January 1965. “Gold diggers of Broadway” was directed by Roy Del Ruth and starred Nancy Welford, Conway Tearle and Winnie Lightner, and was shot in Technicolour, one of the earliest colour films.
  8.  I Used To Be Colourblind by Fred Astaire (Released by Columbia (DB 1809) in 1938). From the film “Carefree”. Fred Astaire was born (as Frederick Austerlitz) in 1899 in Omaha, US. His career began when his older sister, Adele, began taking singing and dancing lessons, and Fred started mimicking her, which led to a brother and sister child double act. It was during this period that both took the stage surname of Astaire. The pair carried on as a double act into adulthood in the 1920s, appearing on both Broadway and the London stage. In 1932 the pair split when Adele married Lord Charles Cavendish. Fred appeared in his first film, “Dancing Lady” the following year, the first of a series of hugely successful song and dance films. His second film, “Flying down to Rio” also starred Ginger Rogers, and the two then appeared in a string of films, including “The Gay Divorce” (1934), “Top Hat” (1935), “Follow the fleet” (1936), “Shall we dance” (1937) and “Carefree” (1938). He split with Rogers in 1939 (although they briefly reunited for the 1949 film “The Barkleys of Broadway”, but continued to appear regularly on the big screen throughout the ’40s and ’50s in films such as “You’ll never get rich” (1941), “Holiday Inn” (1942), “Blue Skies” (1946), “Easter Parade” (1948), “Wedding bells” (1951) and “Funny Face” (1957). His film roles became less frequent from the late ’50s onwards and he worked more in television, but he did appear in the films “Finian’s Rainbow” in 1968 and “The Towering inferno” in 1974. His final film role came in 1981 with “Ghost Story”, and he died in June 1987. “Carefree” was directed by Mark Sandrich, and as well as Fred and Ginger, starred Ralph Bellamy, Jack Carson and Kay Sutton.
  9.  All By Myself by Bing Crosby (Released by Brunswick (3672) in 1946). From the film “Blue Skies”. 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 more copies 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.) “Blue Skies” was directed by Stuart Heisler and Mark Sandrich and starred Bing, Fred Astaire, Joan Caulfield, and Billy De Wolfe.