Tag Archives: Winifred Atwell

78Man Podcast Number 32-Classical Music

From the very beginnings of recorded music being available on 78s, Classical music was being recorded and released. This Podcast looks at some of that music. It can be found on itunes Here and Podbean Here . Tracks featured are :

1. Intermezzo from Mascagni’s “Cavalleria Rusticana” by New Light Symphony Orchestra (Released by His Master’s Voice (B 2377) in 1926). Pietro Mascagni was born in December 1863, in Tuscany, Italy. He began studying music aged 13, and began composing his own works at 16. His first major succes was with the opera “Cavalleria Rusticana” in 1890 and he went on to compose many other operas, including “L’Amico Fritz” (1891), “Silvano” (1895), “Iris” (1898), “Amica” (1905) and “Lodoletta” (1917). He died in August 1945. The New Light Symphony Orchestra made many records for His Master’s Voice, the majority between 1925 and 1934. Others include “Rustic Wedding Symphony” (1925), “In A Clock Store” (1927), “Poet And Peasant-Overture” (1930), “Juba Dance” (1932) and “Glow Worm Idyll” (1934).

2, Narcissus by Joyce Grenfell and Norman Wisdom (Released by Columbia (DB 3161) in 1952). Joyce Phipps was born in February 1910 in London. She married Reginald Grenfell in 1929, so was known as Joyce Grenfell when she made her stage debut in 1939. During the Second World War she toured Italy, North Africa, the Middle East and India, entertaining the troops with her pianist Viola Tunnard. She appeared in a couple of films during the war but it was after the war that her film career took off, appearing in such films as “Alice in Wonderland” (1949), “Stage Fright” (1950), “The Million Pound Note” (1953), “Fobidden Cargo” (1954), and three “St. Trinians” films between 1954 and 1960. As well as her film career, she had a successful recording career and toured extensively, as well as in later years appearing regularly on TV. She died in November 1979. Norman Wisdom was born in February 1915 in London. Born into a poor family, he joined the army at 15, and was sent to India, where he became the flyweight boxing champion of the British army in India, and learned to play trumpet and clarinet. It was while in the army that he developed his stage act, and made his debut as a professional musician in 1946, after he’d left the army. He made his TV debut and made a series of successful films during the ’50s and ’60s, including “Trouble in store” (1953), “One good turn” (1955), “The Square Peg” (1958), “Follow A Star” (1959), “On the beat” (1962), and “The early bird” (1965). The film roles dried up by the late ’60s but in the early ’70s he appeared in three TV series, “Norman”, “Nobody is Norman Wisdom” and “A little bit of Wisdom”. In later years Wisdom appeared sporadically on TV and the occasional film, as well as live appearances. Later TV appearances included “Last of the Summer Wine” and “Coronation Street”. He announced his retirement at 90 in 2005 (although he did make one further short film, “Expresso”). He died aged 95 in October 2010.

3. Rachmaninoff’s 18th Variation on a theme by Paganini by Winifred Atwell (Released by Philips (PB 234) in 1954). (For info on Winifred Atwell see previous blog Here ).

4. In the hall of the mountain King by Edna Hatzfield and Mark Strong (Released by Rex Records (10.050) in 1941). “In the Hall of the Mountain King” is from Grieg’s “Peer Gynt”, the incidental music to the Ibsen play of the same name, composed in 1875. Edvard Grieg was born in June 1843, in Bergen, Norway. His Mother was a music teacher and taught him to play piano as a child. At 15 he enrolled in the Leipzig Cpnservatory where he studied piano, and at 18 made his debut as a concert pianist. A couple of years later he started composing and went on to compose Sonatas and Concertos for piano, violin and cello. He died in September 1907. The Operetta “Song of Norway” (1944) and the 1970 film of the same name tells the story of Grieg’s early years.

5. Chopsticks by Carmen Cavallaro (Released by Bruswick (05577) in 1956). Carmen Cavallaro was born in May 1913 in New York City. He showed promise as a pianist from an early age, picking out tunes on a toy piano at the age of three, and went on to study Classical Piano. In 1933 he joined Al Kavelin’s Orchestra, and went on to play with Rudy Vallee before forming his own band in 1939. He consolidated his success during the ’40s with radio and film appearances, appearing in the films “Diamond Horseshoe”, “Out of this world” (both 1945), and “The time, the place, and the girl” (1946). He died in October 1989.

6. The Flight of The Bumble Bee by Harry James and His Orchestra (Released by Parlophone (R 2848) in 1942). Harry James was born in March 1916 in Albany, Georgia. His father was a bandleader in a circus, while his mother was an acrobat. His father began teaching him trumpet aged 8. By the age of 15, his family had settled in Texas and Harry began playing in local dance bands. He played with various bands, before joing Benny Goodman’s band in 1937, and then formed his own band in 1939, scoring a major hit with “You made me love you” in 1941. During the early days of the band, a young Frank Sinatra sang with them, although he left them after a matter of months. The band also had success in radio and film, and Harry continued playing with them until his death in July 1983.

7. Trusting Eyes by Enrico Caruso (Released by His Master’s Voice (4-2480) in 1914). Enrico Caruso was born in Naples, Italy, on 28th February, 1873. As a child, he sang in the church choir, where his exceptional voice was noted. His Father wanted him to follow in his footsteps and become a mechanical engineer, and he was enrolled as an apprentice at the age of 11, but his Mother (who died when he was 15) encouraged him to carry on singing and he would earn extra money as a street singer and in cafes. He made his first professional singing appearance at the age of 22 in the Opera “L’Amico Francesco”, and several years later, in 1902, made his first recordings for the Gramophone and Typewriter Company. The following year, 1903, he made his debut with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, and in 1904 signed a lucrative recording contract with the Victor Talking Machine Company. He stayed with Victor for the rest of his life. Over the next decade and a half he sang worldwide, becoming the world’s biggest opera star. Towards the end of World War One he undertook a lot of charity work for the war effort, and in 1918 married Dorothy Park Benjamin. During late 1920 Caruso began to suffer ill health, initially as a result of a pillar falling on him during a performance of Pagliacci at The Met. He was diagnosed with Bronchitis, and in December suffered a throat haemorrage on stage, leading to the cancellation of his performance. During early 1921 he underwent a series of operations as his condition worsened and died on the 21st August, aged 48.

8. Greensleeves 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.

9. The Conclusion to Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance March Number 1” by The Royal Festival Hall Orchestra and Choir conducted by Sir Malcolm Sergeant (Released by His Master’s Voice (D.A. 1981) in 1951) The Royal Festival Hall, on the South bank of the river Thames in London, was built as part of the 1951 Festival of Britain. This recording was made at the Ceremonial Opening Concert on May 3rd 1951. Edwatd William Elgar was born in June 1857 in Lower Broadheath, a village just outside Worcester, England. His Father owned a shop selling sheet music and musical instruments, which led to the young Elgar’s interest in music. Although he had piano and violin lessons, Elgar largely self taught himself music theory from books. After leaving school he had a short period as a solicitor’s clerk before devoting his career to music, giving piano and violin lessons, working in his Father’s shop and playing music in live concerts. It was at this point he began composing.His first major succes came in 1899 with The Enigma Variations. Elgar composed five Pomp and Circumstance Marches, the first two in 1901. With words added by A C Benson, the conclusion of March number 1 became better known as “Land of Hope and Glory” and became a mainstay of the last night of the proms. Elgar was knighted in 1904 and although his major works were all composed by around 1910, he continued composing up to his death in February 1934. During the late 1920s after electrical recording became the norm he recorded many of his own compositions for His Master’s Voice, many of which were recorded at the then new Abbey Road Studios in London.

Advertisements

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 Presents Podcast Number 26-Medleys

 

The 26th 78Man Presents podcast features Medleys, and can be found on Itunes Here and on Soundcloud Here .

 

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.

78Man Podcast Number 20-France

The 20th 78Man Podcast has France as its theme. It can be heard on itunes Here or on Soundcloud Here . Tracks heard on the podcast are :

  1. Bells of Normandy by Harry Hudson’s Melody Men with Max Klein (Xylophonist) (Originally released by Edison Bell Radio (1493) in 1931.) Harry Hudson was born in 1898 and began his musical career as part of a double act with fellow singer Stanley Kirkby in 1915. Their association carried on until the mid ’20s. In 1928 Harry Hudson (with his band The Melody Men) started recording for the Edison Bell Radio label, and over the next few years released many records for the label, including “I want to be alone with Mary Brown”, “Misery Farm”, “Moscow”, “Mickey Mouse” and “One little raindrop”. He and his band also recorded under various pseudonyms-Rolando and his Blue Salon Orchestra, Radio Melody Boys, The Blue Jays, and Tanzoni and his Orchestra. Hudson remained active musically until the 1960s, and died in 1969.
  2. La Vie en rose (Take me to your heart again) by Gracie Fields (released by Decca (F. 9031) in 1948. 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. 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” on Rex 8557. 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. La Vie en rose was written in 1945 and became one of Edith Piaf’s best known songs. Other cover versions of the song have been recorded by Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, Donna Summer and Grace Jones.
  3. Ecris Moi by Tino Rossi (released by Columbia (DF 2377) in 1938). Tino Rossi was born in Corsica in 1907 and went on to become one of France’s biggest ever selling singers, as well as appearing in over 20 films. He died in 1983.
  4. Passe by Jean Sablon (released by Brunswick (03872) in 1946). Jean Sablon was born on March 25 1906 to a musical family-his father was a composer and his siblings were also musicians. He started as a pianist but switched to become a vocalist, making his debut aged 17 in cabaret in Paris. During the ’20s and ’30s he toured extensively, achieving fame in Brazil and the USA, where he later had his own radio show in 1946/7. He also appeared in several films including “The story of Vernon and Irene Castle” (1939), “Miranda” (1948), and “Je connais une blonde” (1963). His popularity in both the UK and USA meant he recorded in both French and English, some of his English recordings including “Can I forget you” (1937), “Two sleepy people” (1939) and “My foolish heart” (1950). He died on February 24 1994.
  5. The poor people of Paris by Winifred Atwell (released by Decca (F. 10681) in 1956). 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.
  6. Nuits de Paris by Georges Ulmer (released by Columbia (DF 3182) in 1947). Georges Ulmer was born in Denmark in 1919, but grew up in Spain before finding fame in France as a singer and song writer. His most famous song, Pigalle, has been covered by Bing Crosby, Petula Clark, Paul Anka and Jean Sablon, among others. He also appeared in around a dozen films during the ’50s and early ’60s. He died in 1989.
  7. Le barbier de Palermo by Jaques Helian et son Orchestre (released by Pathe (PG 359) in 1950.) Jacques Helian was born in 1912 in Paris. He began his musical career in the early ’30s as a saxophonist for Roland Dorsay’s Orchestra, but after being made a prisoner of war from 1940-1943, he formed his own orchestra. He initially recorded for Columbia, releasing dozens of records for them between 1945 and 1949, before moving to the Pathe label. His Orchestra disbanded in 1957, although Helian performed until the early ’80s. He died in 1986.
  8. The Sunshine of Marseilles by Cavan O’Connor (released by Regal (MR 44) in 1930). Cavan O’Connor was born (as Clarence O’Connor) in Ireland in 1899, but his family moved to England shortly after his birth. He served in the First World War but was injured and demobbed aged 16, and he began his singing career. By the mid ’20s he was appearing in minor roles on stage, in musical theatre and operas, and made his first radio appearance for the BBC in 1925. A couple of years later he began his recording career, first for the Broadcast label, then Regal, Regal Zonophone, Rex and Decca. His records include “Goodnight, Sweetheart” (1931), “My heart is always calling you” (1934), “Shannon River” (1940), and “Little town in the Ould County Down” (1948). He carried on performing until the ’80s, and died in 1997.
  9. Un Refraint Courait dans la rue by Edith Piaf (released by Columbia (4004 F) in 1950.) Edith Piaf was born on 19th December 1915 in Paris. Her father was a street performer of acrobatics, while her mother was a singer in cafes. She was abandoned by her mother soon after birth, and when her father enlisted in the army in 1916 he gave Edith to his mother, who ran a brothel in Normandy. In the late 1920s her father was again working as a street performer and she joined him, and began singing. In 1935 she started singing at Le Gerny’s club off the Champs- Elysees where she was given the nickname La Mome Piaf (The little sparrow). This led to her first recording contract. Over the next decade she became one of the biggest stars in France, and after the war ended in 1945 her fame spread internationally. Piaf had an eventful life, which has been dramatised in several films, most recently and successfully in 2007’s “La Vie en Rose”, named after one of her most famous songs. Piaf carried on working until her death in October 1963 and some of her most famous songs were from relatively late in her career-“Milord” in 1959, and “Non, Je ne regrette Rien” and “Exodus” in 1961.