Posts Tagged ‘song sheet’


Nellie Stratton as she sang ‘Give Us a Bit of Your Kilt,’ 1898/99

November 6, 2014

Nellie Stratton (1875-1947), English music hall comedienne, featured on the cover of the song for ‘Give Us A Bit Of Your Kilt,’ written and composed by A.J. Mills and Albert Perry.
(published by Francis, Day & Hunter, London, 1898; lithographic printing by H.G. Banks, London)

‘Oh! Sandy, you’ve taken our hearts by storm,
There’s no mistake about it, we are mash’d up on your form:
Oh! McGregor, you look so finely built,
If you can’t give us a bit of your love,
Give us a bit of your kilt!’

The Granville Theatre of Varieties, Waltham Green, London, week beginning Monday, 13 March 1899
‘Miss Nellie Stratton is a neat little serio, her seaside story of ”The cosy little corner,” and her description of Sandy M’Gregor’s kilt and the havoc it wrought in the hearts of the fair sex, is highly popular and instructive.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 18 March 1899, p. 18d)

The Bedford music hall, Camden, London, week beginning Monday, 10 April 1899
‘Miss Nellie Stratton, a pretty brunette, sings of ”Alice in Wonderland” – not Lewis Carroll’s little heroine, but a lass from the country, who visits Barnum and Bailey’s. In her song concerning a Highlander Miss Stratton puts Sandy in a quandary by asking ”If you can’t give me a bit of your love give us a bit of your kilt.” The hardy Scot, anxious to save that indispensable article of his wardrobe, buys a suit, hands it to his lady admirers in a parcel as a kilt, and then beats a judicious retreat.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 15 April 1899, p. 18d)

* * * * *

Nellie Stratton, one of the daughters of John William Stratton (1841-1889) and his wife Esther (née Solomon, 1839-1911), was married to the comedian Wilkie Bard (William August Smith, 1874-1944) at St. George’s, Bloomsbury, London, on 29 July 1895. The witnesses at their wedding were Francis James Peers (1867-), a musician and one of the bride’s brothers-in-law, and the actor Herbert Arrowsmith (Bert) Monks (1872-1952).


The Great Vance in character for his song, ‘Adolph Simpkins; or, The Valet de Chambre,’ London, 1865

April 30, 2014

song sheet cover for the popular song, Adolph Simpkins; or, The Valet de Chambre, ‘written composed & sung by A.G. Vance with the greatest success every where.’
‘You can see by my hair and refinement
I’m no hupstart, my manners is calm
And I hold the most noble appointment,
Of Lord Crackwitt’s valet de chambre.’
(probably based on a photograph of Vance in character; lithograph by Concanen & Siebf, published by Hopwood & Crew, London, probably 1865)

‘MR. EDITOR. – Sir, – Having seen a letter in The Era relative to Mr. Vance, styling himself the author of ”The perambulator,” I beg to say it is not the only instance of the kind. Some time ago I composed a song called ”The Valet de Chambre; or, Adolphe Simpkins,” and gave it to Mr. Vance upon the condition that he should say it was written by ”F.H.” (myself), and that if published, ”F.H.” would appear on the title-page as the author. You can imagine my surprise when I saw the identical song published by Messrs. Hopwood and Crew, and announced as ”written, composed, and sung by the Great Vance.” The meanness, to say the least, of the transaction, is apparent, and although Mr. Crayon is an entire stranger to me, it may be some consolation for him to know he is not the only victim of the great (?) Vance’s deception. Trusting to your love of fair play to insert this, and apologising for my intrusion, I remain, sir, yours obediently, FRED. HAXBY, 24, Montpelier-street, Brompton, S.W.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 10 September 1865, p. 10b)

‘MR. EDITOR. – Sir, – In your impression of last week a person singing himself Fredk. Haxby, in a letter dictated in a strain of virulence and personal animosity towards myself and my professional career which must be patent to even the most obtuse reader, accuses me of appropriating to myself the authorship of my well-known song, ”Adolphe Simpkins; or, The Valet de Chambre,” declaring that he himself is the originator of the song in question. Sir, to that false and, it may be, libellous communication I shall next week offer an undeniable and complete refutation, such a refutation as shall recoil on your ill-advised correspondent. Meanwhile, my solicitor is much obliged to Mr. F.H. For his considerate kindness in publishing the address of his present lodgings, as for a considerable period he has vainly sought it. I trust, Sir, with your wonted impartiality, you will insert this reply to a groundless attack upon my name and fame, as at this crisis, when my grand benefit at the Strand Music Hall comes off on the 22d of this month, it would otherwise do me an incalculable amount of injury with my friends and the public. – I remain, Sir, yours, A.G. VANCE.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 17 September 1865, p. 10a)

(It seems likely that Fredk. Haxby was a figment of Vance’s imagination and that the first of these letters, like the second, originated from his own hand.)


Eva Fallon sings ‘It’s Moonlight On the Rhine’ in the musical comedy, One Girl in a Million, which had its Chicago premier at the La Salle Opera House on Sunday, 6 September 1914

April 27, 2014

song sheet cover for It’s Moonlight On the Rhine, words by Bert Kalmar and Edgar Leslie and music by Ted Snyder, as sung by Eva Fallon in the musical play, One Girl in a Million.
(photo: unknown, USA, probably 1914; artwork by A.W. Barbelle; published by Waterson, Berlin & Snyder Co, New York, 1914)

One Girl in a Million was first produced at the Davidson Theatre, Milwaukee, playing for three nights from 3 September 1914, before its Chicago premier at the La Salle Opera House on Sunday, 6 September 1914. A tour followed.

‘The La Salle Opera house again comes to the front with a brand new musical play that possesses a dandy good gingery swing – and an abundance of fetching tunes that keeps one whistling after hearing them. The new piece is called One Girl in a Million, and along with the lively comedy and pretty music quite an interesting story is told, in fact there are several cleverly constructed dramatic situations. The comedy is clean and plentiful – a regular laughing festival is this new piece. There is a plot.’
(Chicago Live Stock World, Chicago, Saturday, 19 September 1914, p. 3c)

One Girl in a Million has undergone several changes since its birth at the La Salle. Comedy scenes are added to the first act, and Eva Fallon and Felix Adler have a patter song. The song, ”Comedy of Love,” is another addition.’
(The New York Clipper, New York, Saturday, 26 September 1914, p. 18c)

The Illinois Theatre, Chicago, Saturday, 28 November 1914
One Girl in a Million, the freshest musical comedy product of the La Salle theatre, Chicago, had its initial tri-city presentation at the Illinois Saturday, when matinee and night performances were given, both of which was generously patronized. The piece has taken to the road after an extended run at the La Salle, where it is said to have prospered better than many of its predecessors. One Girl in a Million departs somewhat from the time-worn musical comedy text. There are no far-away islands or kings and queens, or American warships. The story concerns a society crook who gets into a home of wealth under the guise of a distinguished painter. Of course it is altogether improbably, but it makes a thread to hold the narrative in such continuity as to interest the audience. And of course the former crook marries – One Girl in a Million – after she has taught him, without her knowing he is a bad man, what love is and after he has refused to steal her $5,000 diamond necklace. The cast is headed by Felix Adler, who is the crook; Miss Eva Fallon, who is the girl, and Miss Eva Leonora Novasio, who is her sister. It was Adler’s first visit here as a star, and he made good, proving himself one of the best entertainers seen on the Illinois stage this season. He impresses you as an actor who is an actor without affectation of those who have come into prominence in that profession. He goes through the play without an iota of makeup, wearing an ordinary business suit. At his first appearance you do not regard Adler as a comedian. Rather you imagine he is to be the villain, but it you give him time he will wake you up to the fact that he has the goods. In the second act he got his audience so strongly under his spell that it was with difficulty he was able to conclude his speciality, which was just a bunch of nonsense, talking, singing, dancing and grimacing. Miss Fallon makes a sweet and delightful opposite to Adler. All of the principals are well cast. The comedy was given at Davenport last night and will be at the Moline tonight.’
(The Rock Island Argus, Rock Island, Illinois, Monday, 30 November 1914, p. 9b)


The Hess Sisters featured on the song sheet cover of ‘My Brown Eyed Baby Boy,’ 1911

November 15, 2013

Hess Sisters (active circa 1907-1915), American vaudeville singing comediennes and dancers, featured on the cover of the song ‘My Brown Eyed Baby Boy,’ with words by Stanley Murphy and music by Henry I. Marshall, published by Charles K. Harris, New York, Chicago, Toronto, 1911
(photo: unknown, USA, circa 1911)


Marilyn Miller – ‘Peter Pan (I Love You)’

April 9, 2013

Song sheet cover for ‘Peter Pan (I Love You)’ by Robert King and Ray Henderson. Marilyn Miller (1898-1936), American actress and dancer, as she appeared in the title role of Charles Dillingham’s revival of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, which was produced at the Knickerbocker Theatre, New York, on 6 November 1924.
(photo: unknown, USA, 1924; published by Shapiro, Bernstein & Co Inc, New York, 1924)


Teddie Gerard sings ‘Hawaiian Butterfly’

February 26, 2013

song sheet cover for the song ‘Hawaiian Butterfly,’
lyrics by George A. Little and music by Billy Baskette and Joseph Santly,
sung by Teddie Gerard in Andre Charlot’s successful ‘musical entertainment,’ Bubbly,
produced at the Comedy Theatre, London, on 5 May 1917
(photos: left, Malcolm Arbuthnot; right, Wrather & Buys, London, 1917)

Miss Gerard, accompanied by a chorus and the Comedy Theatre Orchestra conducted by Philip Braham, recorded ‘Hawaiian Butterfly’ for the Columbia label (L-1188) in London during May 1917.


Mrs Howard Paul – ‘What Our Girls are Coming to’

February 23, 2013

colour lithograph song sheet cover of ‘What Our Girls Are Coming To,’
a satirical ballad, sung by Mrs Howard Paul (1833?-1879)
(published by Simpson & Weippert, 266 Regent Street, London, W, circa 1870)


February 2, 2013

lithograph portrait of Jolly Little Lewis (George W. Lewis, d.1893),
English music hall singer and pantomime actor,
on the song sheet cover of ‘I Traced Her Little Footmarks in the Snow,’
written and composed by Harry Wright, which he sang with success in the late 1870s
(published by Howard & Co, London, circa 1876)

The long-forgotten Jolly Little Lewis, whose real name was George W. Lewis, appears to have begun his career as a music hall singer in the late 1860s. He was still popular in the late 1870s and 1880s when he was singing ditties such as Harry Wright’s ‘I Traced Her Little Footmarks in the Snow.’ A version of the latter, ‘I Traced Her Little Footprints in the Snow,’ was recorded by Bogue Ford for Sidney Robertson Cowell, a collector of folk songs, during a field trip on 3 September 1939 to Boomtown, Shasta County, California (The Library of Congress).

For further information about Lewis, with a list of titles of some of his other songs, see Michael Kilgarriff, Sing Us One of the Old Songs, Oxford University Press, p.261.


‘My Girlie Girl’ : Rose Beaumont, American actress and singer

January 24, 2013

Rose Beaumont (fl. early 20th Century),
American actress and singer,
as Gloriana Bird on the song sheet cover of ‘My Girlie Girl,’
words by Felix F. Feist and music by Ted S. Barron,
as sung in the musical comedy The Errand Boy,
produced prior to a tour of the United States
at Haverly’s 14th Street Theatre, New York, 31 October 1904
(photo: unknown, probably New York, 1904;
published by Leo Fiest, New York, 1904)

Billy B. Van in The Errand Boy at the Lafayette Theatre, Washington, D.C., October, 1905
‘In choosing Billy B. Van to head the pretentious organization of comedians, vocalists, and dancers in The Errand Boy the management confesses to a disposition to honor an artist in the character which has served him faithfully in other comedy plays, realizing that the unctuous antics of Patsy Bolivar are well suited to a more pretentious offering. According to reliable reports, there must have been no little difficulty encountered in selecting the bevy of feminine loveliness which participates in the purpose of The Errand Boy, a new comedy elixir, which comes to the Lafayette to-morrow evening for the week. In connection with the principal artists engaged in rendering a plot of mischievous hilarity for perfect understanding, and who, at the same time, lend zest and novelty to the action, Miss Rose Beaumont, whose fame as one of the Beaumont sisters [her sister was Nellie Beaumont], for several seasons a feature with the great Weber & Fields cast, rests secure. She appears as Gloriana Bird, and one of the special musical number “Gloriana,” named for the character, is said to be among the most interesting specimens of her charmingly attractive methods.
‘Florence Sweetman, Edith Hart, Florence Brooks, Frank Evans, Abbott Davidson, Charlie Saxon, Clement Bevins, and others, in conjunction with a powerful chorus, assist in the musical comedy, which is claimed to be something of an innovation. The Errand Boy is a spectacular musical comedy extravaganza, with a unique plot and many tuneful numbers by composers of note, and should prove acceptable to those who delight in light musical entertainment. In how far they have succeeded in departing from beaten paths is denoted by the inspiring press reports, all of which make special observation concerning the funnyisms of Billy B. Van, who leads this company of singers and dancers.’
(The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., Sunday, 8 October 1905, Third Part, p.5b)


January 23, 2013

Nora Bayes (1880-1928)
American vaudeville and musical comedy star,
who introduced George M. Cohan’s 1917 hit, ‘Over There
(photo: unknown, probably New York, 1917;
sheet music published by William Jerome Publishing, New York, 1917,
artwork by ‘Barbelle’)

Nora Bayes, whose real name was Leonora Goldberg, began her highly successful career in vaudeville and musical comedy in Chicago in 1899. Her second of five husbands, Jack Norworth (1879-1962), whom she married in 1908, became her stage partner for a while and together they wrote the lyrics for ‘Shine On, Harvest Moon,’ featured in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1908. It is one of the tragedies of light entertainment history that this recording of their most popular song was a technical failure, deemed unsuitable for issue, when they committed it to disc for the Victor Talking Machine Co in New York on 7 March 1910. Although the couple returned to the same studios several more times that year, they did not attempt ‘Shine On, Harvest Moon’ again.

‘Shine On, Harvest Moon’ has been recorded by many other artists since 1908, one of the earliest being by an unnamed male singer (who sounds very much like Bob Roberts) accompanied by female chorus, from Mark Best’s Old Time Victrola Music Page).

Miss Bayes, who made many records for both Victor and American Columbia, had a string of songs with which her name is connected. ‘How Ya Gonna Keep ’em Down on the Farm,’ George M. Cohan’s ‘Over There,’ and ‘The Japanese Sandman’ are among them.

‘Nora Bayes, with her inimitable foolery and clean fun, her admirable imitations and clever and witty songs, became in a very short time one of the greatest favorites on the American stage, and she continues to hold the attention as well as the admiration of her audiences – through sheer talent. Miss Bayes is the life of every production with which she is connected, and gives a zest to every moment she is on the stage. This talented artist has sung for the Victor [Talking Machine Co.] some of her greatest successes and the records are among the most entertaining in the catalogue.’
(1923 Catalogue of Victor Records, Victor Talking Machine Co., Camden, New Jersey, USA, December 1922)

* * * * * * * *

‘The town of Great Neck, Long Island, now regarded George M. Cohan, his wife and children, as permanent members of the colony – a colony that included Arthur Hopkins, Gene Buck, Charles King and Lila Rhodes and Sam Harris. Cohan liked Great Neck for his family but he never got used to working there.
‘It was there, however, and let it go into the record, that he got the inspiration for the song that will live as long as this republic [of the United States] stands.
‘America went to war. On April 6, 1917, after Congress had acted, Woodrow Wilson put his signature to the document that declared the United States at war with Germany.
‘In Great Neck that morning Cohan read his newspapers with puckered brow. He rose several times to go to is car for the drive into [Manhattan], but before getting into the car he sat down at his desk, took a pencil, and began scribbling. There was a new melody in his head and he was seeking the words to go with it. He wrote one word, “Chorus,” across the top of a sheet of paper and in less than half an hour he had written these words:

Over there, over there,
Send the word, send the word, over there,
That the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming,
The drums rum-tumming everywhere.
So prepare, say a prayer,
Send the word, send the word to beware.
We’ll be over, we’re coming over,
And we won’t come back till
It’s over over there!

‘Now, with that much done, he went quickly to his car and before he reached the Cohan & Harris offices he had written a verse that ran:

Johnnie, get your gun, get your gun, get your gun,
Take it on the run, on the run, on the run;
Hear them calling you and me,
Every son of Liberty.
Hurry right away, no delay, go today.
Make your daddy glad
To have had such a lad,
Tell your sweetheart not to pine,
To be proud her boy’s in line.

‘In later years, in telling me of the writing of that song, Cohan’s exact words were these: “Funny about them giving me a medal. All I wrote was a bugle call. I read those war headlines and I got to thinking and to humming to myself – and for a minute I thought I was going into my dance. I was all finished with both the chorus and the verse by the time I got to town and I also had a title. I tried the thing first on my friend Joe Humphreys (famous ring announcer of Madison Square Garden) and Joe liked it and he never was a fellow for lying. Joe really said he was crazy about it and he said, ‘George, you’ve got a song.’ And it seems I had.”
‘”Over There” swept America and the world. A month after publication it was being sung, hummed, whistled in every corner of the United States. It became the song of the war, and so it is held today. The average song hit of present times will achieve a sale of from one hundred thousand to three hundred thousand copies. “Over There,” first professionally sung by Nora Bayes, reached the million-and-a-half mark in total sales. This was a total considerably in excess of that of Irving Berlin’s “Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning” [of 1918]…’
(Ward Morehouse, George M. Cohan, Prince of the American Theater, J.B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia and New York, 1943, pp.125-127)

* * * * * * * *

The ‘million-and-a-half mark in total sales’ for ‘Over There’ mentioned above refers to the quantity of its sheet music. Besides the original featuring a tinted half-tone photograph of Nora Bayes in exotic military attire (see above), several other covers were published, including one by the artist Norman Rockwell (‘as sung by’ the celebrated Italian tenor, Enrico Caruso); and another featuring a futuristic design.

Like all popular songs of the period, ‘Over There’ was recorded a number of times. Nora Bayes herself committed the number to disc for the Victor Talking Machine Co (Victor 45130) in New York on 13 July 1917. Another version was made by Caruso on 11 July 1918, again for Victor; and a third, for Edison (50443) in 1917, by the popular recording artist Billy Murray and the American Quartet.

Nora Bayes
(photo: Sarony, New York, circa 1910)