Tag Archives: Goons

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 Number 22-Blues

The 22nd 78Man Podcast features Blues records, and can be found on itunes Here or on Soundcloud Here . Tracks featured are :

  1. Birth of the blues by Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra (Released by His Master’s Voice (B 5270) in 1927) Paul Whiteman was born in 1890 in Denver, Colorado and came to prominence in the early 1920s with his Ambassador Orchestra, releasing his first records on the US Victor label (His Master’s Voice in the UK). These early records included “Whispering”, “Anytime, Anyday, Anywhere”, and “Second hand Rose”. As the ’20s progressed his popularity increased, and he was often referred to as “The King of Jazz”. Over the next decade or so he worked with many now legendary artists, such as Bing Crosby, Paul Robeson, Bix Beiderbecke, George Gershwin, Mildred Bailey and Billie Holiday. He also made many radio, TV and film appearances. His popularity waned towards the end of the ’30s and he rarely recorded after 1942. He died in 1967.
  2. Careless Love Blues by Bessie Smith (Released by Parlophone (R 2479) in 1938, recorded in 1925). Bessie Smith was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 1894. She was born to a poor family, and as a child she and her brother busked on the streets of their home town to earn money. She moved on to stage work, initially as a dancer, then singer during the 1910s but didn’t begin her recording career until 1923 when she began recording for the Columbia label. Her records were immediately successful and she toured America playing theatres throughout the country, and making numerous radio appearances. During this time she became known as “The Empress of the blues”.  She made 160 recordings in total for Columbia, including “Aggravatin’ Papa” , “Nobody in town can bake a jelly roll like mine”, “Whoa, Tillie, Take your time” (1923), “Haunted House blues” (1924), “Sing Sing Prison blues” (1925), and “Spider Man blues” (1928). The great depression of 1929 halted Smith’s recording career but she carried on singing live. In 1933 she recorded four songs for the Okeh label, which were her last recordings. She died after being involved in a car crash in September 1937.
  3. Hootin’ Blues by The Sonny Terry Trio (Released by Parlophone (R 3598) in 1952). Sonny Terry was born in Greensboro, Georgia in 1911. He started losing his sight as a teenager, going completely blind by the age of 16. He was taught to play blues harp by his father, and he started performing in public as the only way to make some money. Initially he played with Blind Boy Fuller, then Brownie McGhee, and made his first commercial recordings in 1940. His recordings include “Harmonica Stomp” (1940), “Whoopin’ the blues” (1947), “Lonesome Room” (1951) and “Carolina Blues” (1952). In later years he appeared in several films, including “The Jerk” (1979), “The Color Purple” (1985), and “Crossroads” (1986). He died in March 1986.
  4. Forgotten Woman’s Blues by Humphrey Lyttleton and his Band (Released by Parlophone (R 3513) in 1952). 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 probably his best remembered song “Bad Penny Blues” (1956), an instrumental produced by Joe Meek, and an inspiration to Paul McCartney on The Beatles song “Lady Madonna”. 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.
  5. The Bluebottle Blues 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, Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe and (for the first two series only) Michael Bentine. 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. Hamp’s Salty Blues by Lionel Hampton and his Quartet (Released by Brunswick (03732) in 1946). Lionel Hampton was born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1908. As a teenager he learned to play xylophone and drums. His first recordings were made with Paul Howard’s Quality Serenaders in the late ’20s. By this time he was also playing vibraphone, and played on two recordings by Louis Armstrong in 1930. In the ensuing years he performed and recorded with Bing Crosby, Benny Goodman and Nat Shilkret, while also developing his own Lionel Hampton Orchestra. In 1937 he began recording for the US Victor label (released by His Master’s Voice in the UK), and over the following years his popularity increased rapidly with the release of such records as “Stompology” (1937), “Dinah” (1940), “Blue” (1941) and “Bouncing at the Beacon” (1944). In the mid ’40s he moved to Decca in the US (Brunswick in the UK) and his success continued throughout the 1950s, only going into decline during the ’60s. In the late ’70s he founded his own “Who’s who in Jazz” label and made his own recordings. In 1984 he played the University of Idaho’s annual jazz festival for the first time, and the following year the festival was renamed The Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival. He carried on performing regularly until 1991, when he suffered a stroke. After this he only performed sporadically, but was still active musically until 2001, a year before his death in September 2002.
  7. Walkin’ and Whistlin’ Blues by Les Paul (Released by Capitol (CL 13568) in 1951). Les Paul was born as Lester William Polsfuss in Wisconsin, USA in 1915 and began his musical career while still a child-at 8 he learnt to play the harmonica before moving on to guitar (later inventing a harmonica holder which enabled him to play guitar and harmonica simultaneously). By the age of 13 he was working semi-professionally and at 17 dropped out of school to work full time as a musician. In the early thirties he was appearing regularly on radio and made his first record in 1936 under the name Rhubarb Red, shortly before adopting the name Les Paul. In the ensuing years he worked with stars such as Nat “King” Cole and Bing Crosby, while also designing and making his own electric guitar and experimenting with different sounds. His innovative guitar playing influenced many later guitar players. In the mid ’40s he built his own recording studio and began experimenting with multi track recording and over-dubbing, techniques hitherto largely unheard of in recording. It was at this time that Les Paul met and married Mary Ford (born Iris Summers in 1924) and they began recording together as a duo, scoring many hits during the first half of the 1950s, also having their own TV show. The marriage lasted until 1964. After their split, Paul carried on as a solo artist, recording the acclaimed album “Les Paul Now” in 1968. In the ’70s he teamed up with Chet Atkins for the albums “Chester and Lester” (1976) and “Guitar Monsters” (1978). He carried on recording sporadically up to 2008 (when he was well into his 90s!). Mary Ford died in 1977, and Les Paul in 2009.
  8. Graveyard Dream Blues by Ida Cox (First released by US Paramount (12044) in 1923). Ida Cox was born (as Ida Prather) in Toccoa, Georgia, but her year of birth is in dispute, given variously as 1888, 1894, or 1896. She began singing gospel music as a child in the choir of her local Methodist church, before leaving home to tour in Vaudeville at the age of 14. Her first husband, Adler Cox died in the First World War but she kept his surname as her stage name when she later married Eugene Williams in the early ’20s. This marriage didn’t last, and in 1927 she married pianist Jesse Crump, who became her manager and accompanist. In 1923 Cox was signed to the Paramount label, and recorded with them until 1929, releasing records such as “Fogyism”, “Bone orchard blues” and “Moanin’ Groanin’ blues”. After the depression of 1929 Cox continued stage performances but didn’t record again until 1939 when she recorded for Vocalion Records, before moving to Okeh in 1940. She continued performing and recording until 1945, when a stroke brought her singing career to a halt. She effectively retired until 1961, when she recorded the album “Blues for Rampart Street”, her last recording. She suffered another stroke in 1965, and died in November 1967.
  9. Bye Bye Blues by Bert Lown and his Orchestra (Released by Columbia (CB 139) in 1930). Bert Lown was born in New York in 1903. He learned to play violin and began his career in the Fred Hamm band, before becoming leader of his own dance band. “Bye bye blues” is his most famous composition, and he also wrote “You’re the one I care for” and “Tired”. His recordings include “The first girl I met”, “By my side”, “Were you sincere?” and “Now you’re in my arms”. He stopped leading his band in the mid ’30s and moved into management and worked as a booking agent, before moving into Television. He died in 1962.