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Do Brits remember George Formby?

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GUEST,josepp 17 Sep 11 - 05:33 PM
Will Fly 17 Sep 11 - 05:38 PM
Smokey. 17 Sep 11 - 05:39 PM
Bernard 17 Sep 11 - 05:39 PM
Rumncoke 17 Sep 11 - 05:39 PM
GUEST,PeterC 17 Sep 11 - 05:41 PM
Bernard 17 Sep 11 - 05:42 PM
GUEST,josepp 17 Sep 11 - 05:46 PM
Will Fly 17 Sep 11 - 05:51 PM
Smokey. 17 Sep 11 - 05:54 PM
GUEST,josepp 17 Sep 11 - 05:58 PM
Will Fly 17 Sep 11 - 06:10 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 17 Sep 11 - 06:19 PM
GUEST,josepp 17 Sep 11 - 06:19 PM
GUEST,josepp 17 Sep 11 - 06:24 PM
Will Fly 17 Sep 11 - 06:25 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 17 Sep 11 - 07:00 PM
Ann N 17 Sep 11 - 07:21 PM
Tootler 17 Sep 11 - 07:22 PM
terrier 17 Sep 11 - 08:15 PM
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GUEST,josepp 17 Sep 11 - 09:19 PM
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Subject: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 05:33 PM

I'm researching the role of the ukulele in the 20th century. Most Americans are only vaguely aware of the popularity of the uke in the 1920s. Most have no knowledge of Roy Smeck or Cliff Edwards a.k.a Ukulele Ike (unless they know he supplied Jiminy Cricket's voice singing "When You Wish Upon a Star" in 1940)

In comparison, how well do Brits today remember George Formby? He ssemed to be very popular all the way up to his death in 1961. Is he like someone the averge Brit today would know something about or has he slid into obscurity?


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 05:38 PM

We had a performer of Formby songs at a folk club last night - everyone knew the words!

I remember meeting him as a small boy, and I have all his records. I think he's very much alive in the memories of my generation and before. Even kids who probably don't know him directly have some knowledge of "Leaning on a lamp" and "My little stock of Blackpool rock", etc.

George Harrison was a keen uke player and an active member of the George Formby Society!


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Smokey.
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 05:39 PM

This one certainly remembers him - some of the first music I ever heard was 78s of George. He didn't play ukelele though, it was a banjolele. I'd say in general he's well remembered over here.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Bernard
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 05:39 PM

Nope, he's still a well-loved household name... the ukulele and George Formby belong in the same breath!

There are even societies which meet and play his stuff, often with a film for them to play along with.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Rumncoke
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 05:39 PM

certainly older people would remember him.

There was a series on TV called 'Goodnight Sweetheart' about someone able to move between the present and wartime England, and George Formby was one of the characters he met in the past.

He does occasionally crop up in person in various old films which are still screened on TV.

Anne Croucher


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,PeterC
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 05:41 PM

Depends of the generation I think. Most British people of the age that post here would know of him. I don't know about younger people.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Bernard
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 05:42 PM

George Harrison was not only a keen uke player, he actually owned most of GF's ukes!

I actually got to play some of them at an exhibition in Warrington (Cheshire, UK) Museum - I was setting up a sound system when the collection arrived!


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 05:46 PM

I've read that 100,000 people attended his funeral so I figure he was far more beloved than Smeck or Edwards who both died uneventfully--Smeck in 1994 and Edwards in 1971.

The Brits seem to have more of an appreciating for the great musical figures of the past. After all, they still have the Eddie Cochran Society and America has never bothered to honor him at all. I'm sure they mourned Gene Vincent way more than America who didn't seem to notice his passing.

I do "When I'm Cleaning Windows" at open mics and when I say George Formby there's no reaction at all. Clearly, Americans have no idea who he is. I normally never introduce a song before I play but I try with "When You Wish Upon a Star" because I want people to know why I learned it on the uke--because Cliff Edwards was Ukulele Ike who was extremely popular in the 20s so it's my way of honoring him but I've stopped doing it because I can see nobody cares.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 05:51 PM

Cliff Edwards, I believe, had the first hit version of "Singin' in the rain" - try the audience with that one...

He died bankrupt after a lifetime of drug and alcohol abuse. He had a great talent - he also recorded songs which were considered slightly risqué at the time - a little like George Formby.

My two favourite Formby songs are "In a little Wigan garden" and "The Lancashire Toreador".


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Smokey.
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 05:54 PM

Statue in Wigan.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 05:58 PM

Edwards also did some of the earliest, if not the earliest, recorded scat singing (1922). Americans have forgotten him. Smeck was a fantastic musician and could play a uke like nobody's business but never became legendary like Django but then even Django couldn't make Rolling Stones Top 100 Guitarists list. America is a cultural wasteland.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 06:10 PM

Josepp - do you do anything by Johnny Marvin - "The Ukulele Ace"? Another forgotten hero.

Roy Smeck did a superb version of the 1932 hit "Lullaby of the leaves", which I do with my Dobro playing buddy Andy.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 06:19 PM

Unsheath a banjo in a pub in England and chances are you will be asked to play "that tune you know with the blokes in the canoe, it goes da da da" or "When I'm Cleaning Windows".

It's a reminds me of those long suffering musicians in Preservation Hall in New Orleans but they had the right idea a notice which read "Requests:$1, When the Saints Go Marching In:$5"

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 06:19 PM

No, I don't do any Johnny Marvin. I'm a newcomer to the uke and am assembling a repertoire. Is there anything by him on Youtube?


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 06:24 PM

"When I'm Cleaning Windows" is unknown in America. I figure it's a good song to hopefully get people interested in Formby. At least if somebody asks them if they ever heard of George Formby, they can reply, "Didn't he do that window-cleaning song?" and therefore not look so damned, bloody stupid.

As for trad jazz, I'd ask for "Down Home Rag" or "Bedelia." But then I've played and recorded a lot of that stuff for years.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 06:25 PM

Johnny Marvin YouTube playlist

There you go!

Here's a link to info on George Formby's father - George Formby Senior - also a wonderful Music Hall (Vaudeville) artist:

George Formby Senior


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 07:00 PM

I saw the weird motorcycle he bought for his wife in a Preston antique shop a couple of years back... A lot of the location shots in Bell Bottom George were done in Fleetwood, not far from his home 'Beryldene' (the house is still there, but has a different name).


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Ann N
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 07:21 PM

A link to the George Formby Society   :)

We used to sit down as a family to watch his old black and white films on TV :) Dad used to do George Formby impresssions to make us laugh :-D


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Tootler
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 07:22 PM

They used to show his films at school (I was at a boarding school).

I don't remember much about the films themselves but I do clearly remember his songs and his distinctive style of ukulele playing.

I've recently started to play the ukulele and have bought a couple of tutor books and both include George Formby in their list of major players of the ukulele.

Keep playing the George Formby songs, Josepp.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: terrier
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 08:15 PM

George Formby, prior to his musical career, was a racing jockey, a fact that my old Gran never missed a chance to tell me as a younster. Maybe that's why some of his films were based around stable yards and racetracks.
It struck me as coincidental that an old thread has been ressurected on Mudcat, regarding Percy French, who died at Formby, in Lancashire. That was of course the town that George (Hoy Booth) took as his stage name.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: olddude
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 08:19 PM

No I am not a Brit but I remember Homer Formby the refinishing guy. He would repair furniture on TV and refinish it like glass


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 09:19 PM

////It's a reminds me of those long suffering musicians in Preservation Hall in New Orleans but they had the right idea a notice which read "Requests:$1, When the Saints Go Marching In:$5"////

That reminds me of that scene in the old "Wayne's World" movie when he goes into the music store and picks up a guitar and starts playing "Stairway to Heaven" and one of the clerks rushes over and yells, "Hey, can't you read!!!??" And he points to a sign on the wall that says, "NO STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN!!!!"

I've always loved that. Every guitarist I know loves that scene.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 17 Sep 11 - 09:31 PM

Eddie Cochran plays the uke from his only album "Singin' to My Baby" released in 1957:

Lovin' Time


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 12:43 AM

I also learned this one on the uke by Ray Noble & his orchestra with Al Bowlly on vocal. HMV label 1934. Used as the closing theme for Kubrick's "The Shining":

Midnight, the Stars and You


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Gurney
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 12:50 AM

I was listening to some of his records now available on CD. You couldn't sing some of his songs today without being buttonholed by some earnest person and told that they were stereotypical and racist, especially the 'Mr. Woo' songs.
I should think.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 02:19 AM

"You couldn't sing some of his songs today without being buttonholed by some earnest person and told that they were stereotypical and racist, especially the 'Mr. Woo' songs."

That actually happened at our club a few years back and hit the national headlines. We have one member who only does George Formby songs. In truth the complainers (who were neighbours of the performer) only actually complained about the songs after they had fallen out with him on a personal level.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/scotland/article3858634.ece


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Will Fly
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 03:36 AM

Terrier - I believe it was John Booth, i.e. George Formby Senior, who did the surname change from Booth to Formby. When he died comparatively young from TB, his son Hoy Booth took over the act to earn money for the family. If you look at photos of the older and younger Formbys, you'll see the style. As for the music, you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between the later George Senior and the young George Junior! It was only when Beryl came along that GF became the entertainer we know now. :-)


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 03:51 AM

buttonholed by some earnest person

Too right right as well. I've heard a Neo-George Formby type performer do an update which not only perpetuates the racist stereotyping but introduces an element of homophobia on 'Mr Woo Runs a Gar Bar Bay Now (the chorus of which runs oh Mr Woo; ooh, get you...). That people are still singing Mr Woo is worrying; that they see fit to subject it to such a reactionary and quite rancid perversion is even more worrying; that people laugh at it is more worrying still. Forgive me, I'm just one of these old-fashioned types who feel that ethnicity or sexuality isn't a matter for ridicule on any sort of level.

Here's a clicky to the above link which really is a hoot, full of typical reactionary outrage from people who find this sort of thing an infringment of their human rights to perpetuate sugar-coated hate crime. The only thing it lacks is some earnest folkie saying it's political correctness gone mad - or maybe it did, just there's only so much of this sort of thing one can stomach first thing on a Sunday morning:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/scotland/article3858634.ece

Otherwise George Formby songs consist of good clean (mostly) smut & knob gags, very thinly disguised by way of a pretty irritating sort of moral cuteness. Even as a kid I found this irksome. Are people so hung-up about sex that they find this sort of euphemistic tomfoolery funny? But then again I'll quite happily sing Butter and Cheese and All - so maybe this is deep rooted in the English psycho-sexual collective subconscious?? I saw a classic clip of the George Formby Society at one of their Blackpool Conventions (is Blackpool still the Formby mecca? Saw his Uke on exhibition there recently) - about 100 of them in a theatre strumming their along to film-stock of their hero - of which there is no shortage...


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Darowyn
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 04:06 AM

George Formby is still well remembered in TT Racing circles. (That's a motorcycle race around the Isle of Man, if you are outside the UK)
His film, 'No Limit' is still shown every year in TT week, and a regular competitor in a strange little motorcycle competition called 'The Northwich Thundersprint' turns up every year on a replica of the Shuttleworth Snap, George's home built racer. He rides dressed as George's character from the film, to the accompaniment of "Riding in the TT Races" on the PA.
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 04:43 AM

I've always thought that George Formby was irritating and weird with a peculiar and rather unsavoury 'sense of humour'.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 05:42 AM

I love George Formby. He is THE best. My Dad used to cut his hair before the war and he used to tip my Dad a shilling, when Dad's wages was only seven bob a week. (Dad started out as the lather boy at Myett's hairdressers opposite the Music Hall in St Helens.

The character he played in his films - the naive , but lucky idiot is a treasured part of Lancashire folklore. Treasured and honoured by the Lancashire Dialect society.

No one has equalled his ability to accompany and do astonishing solos on the banjo uke - or his way with a comic song. Despite being the highest paid filmstar in England - he risked his life to entertain troops in the front line during the war.

Just what do you want from a human being.... maybe its you with the problem, pal...! Racist my ass. And for my money he plays those chord changes with more grace than any of the ragtime guitarists. Check it out - Cleaning windows is more or less the same chords as Blind Blake's Too Tight Rag.

Perhaps his cardinal sin is that he sings in his uncouth Northern working class accent instead of being a southerner pretendinng to be an 18th sailor.

Butter and Chees and All - the cheese melts - very funny. The people who laugh at that, are the kind of exhibitionists who laugh loudly at the jokes in Shakespeare to show that they're clever enough to have understood the verbose twit. Its not funny, hardly bears repetition. Bout time, someone said it.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Mo the caller
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 05:56 AM

The thing about George Formby is that they are so much 'of their time'. Does that excuse them?


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 06:06 AM

should read 18th century sailor


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Mo the caller
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 06:14 AM

?


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 06:32 AM

Oh How She Could Play the Ukelele

Lovely!


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 06:36 AM

Al ~~ Re B&C&A; well, ideas of humour vary. I agree with Ewan's comment that it was a situation ~ the lover hidden up the chimney betrayed by misfortunate chance ~ worthy of Boccaccio: but then I must admit that I don't find Boccaccio that funny either, & think B&C&A much funnier. Not a masterpiece of subtle wit, just an agreeable roister, without any of Bocc.'s irritating up-the-sleeve 'tee-hee-hee'-ery about it. Quite a chaste song, in fact; all he is doing is eating the master's food, not screwing his wife ~ or his cook, for that matter.

A song I love to sing, anyhow. Perhaps I just like the choon!

Best

~M~


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 06:39 AM

My aunt plays ukelele in a George Formby ensemble, and is the only woman in the group - she was on tv once!


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 06:44 AM

I know Mike - many of my friends sing that song. Just got on my nerves someone calling GF a racist.

After all Mr Wu just lost his heart to a Chinese girl and thus distracted messed up the laundry. What the hell's racist about that?

You want to square up to a racist - try one of those bullet headed bastards in whatever the National front is calling itself this year.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: melodeonboy
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 06:50 AM

This one does! I've even sung his songs. (My favourite's Mr. Wu!)


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Max Johnson
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 06:57 AM

Of course he's dated now in many ways, but in his day he was a great star. Like Gracie Fields, he was making unsophisticated films for an unsophisticated audience. His films made during the war were intended to be morale-building, and they were. I remember my dad telling me that he saw one of his films in a jungle clearing in Burma. When they showed 'Brief Encounter' in a few towns in the North before it was released, to see how it might be received, half of the audiences walked out and the other half fell about laughing. They preferred George.
The first film I saw at 'Saturday Morning Pictures' was 'It's In The Air'. The Beehive in Bradford had a free jukebox when I was a regular there a few years ago, and one of the most popular plays was 'Leaning On The Lampost'. That in a pub where the most popular play was probably Gillian Welsh's 'Elvis Presley Blues'.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: alanabit
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 07:57 AM

As a member of Mudcat's youth wing, I can confirm that I was a big fan back in the early sixties. I became aware of him from those Saturday Morning Matinee films when we were living up in Barrow in Furness at the time (while my Dad was training for the first commission of HMS Dreadnought). Of course, George Formby died around that time - in 1962, if I recall rightly. Looking at clips of him on YouTube, I am still impressed by his liveliness and his delivery of cheeky songs. There were some good writers supplying material to him too - isn't "Leaning on a Lamp Post" a Noel Gay song? He was a seemingly unaffected man, who just knew, "I had something people seemed to like" and got on with it. At the end of the day, it is that natural empathy which marks out the greatest entertainers more than any amount of skill.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 08:22 AM

Here's an interesting piece of trivia.
Back in the late 30s, George Formby was the biggest entertainer in the UK, and Bing Crosby was the biggest in the US.
Why is that interesting? Because Crosby and Formby are the names of two towns, a few miles apart, on the Lancashire coast, just north of Liverpool, UK.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 08:29 AM

What's a Brit?

:D tG


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Dave Hunt
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 08:58 AM

For superb use of the uke - take a look at the stuff on Youtube by The Ukelele Orchestra of Gt.Britain - wonderful!

Here's one for a starter

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTIv8hP-UIA

And this from Shrewsbury Folk Festival - I was at this gig (I've just retired after many years as Director of the Childrens Festival at SFF) it was superb - and the audience LOVED them - and we've been asked many times when they will be back!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEJpDohjd70&feature=related

Dave (aka Dr Sunshine - www.sunshinearts.co.uk)


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: MikeL2
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 10:44 AM

hi

I am another old enough to remember George.

Latterly in his life he lived just down the road from me; near the Mere Golf & Country Club.

Alan he may have tipped your father well but around here his wife had a reputation as being "mean".

She was his manager for much of his performing life and it was said that she inspired him and encouraged him to entertain. She was a clog-dancing champion and I believe ( according to my father) that Beryl had a great act with her sister before she met George.

As to whether he plated the ukele or the "banjolele" or the "ukelebanjo, maybe he played all three?? He used to have a number of different instruments on stage when he performed.

Certainly George is still well remembered and revered here in his native North West of England.

Cheers

Mike


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Smokey.
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 11:31 AM

In answer to suggestions of racism:

"In 1946 Beryl and George toured South Africa shortly before formal racial apartheid was introduced, where they refused to play racially-segregated venues. According to Formby's biographer, when George was cheered by a black audience after embracing a small black girl who had presented his wife with a box of chocolates, National Party leader Daniel François Malan (who later introduced apartheid) phoned to complain; Beryl replied 'Why don't you piss off you horrible little man?'." (Wiki)


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Peter C
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 12:00 PM

People have publically doubted his ability to play bajo-ukulele, but I remember him on live TV doing a song, a string breaking, him picking up another instrument, (which would have been tuned in a different key)and carrying on without losing a beat!


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 12:40 PM

As an older statesider, I'm aware of and enjoyed some of his songs, and films. His continuing popularity is attested to by the availability of most of his recordings and films.
There is one LOST film from 1915 where he plays a jockey.
There are rumours that he appeared in a 1931 film version of HOBSON'S CHOICE, also lost.
From 1934 to 1946 he appeared regularly in films - all but one is available on DVD. The missing title is "FEATHER YOUR NEST" 1937 - is available on unofficial DVD-R's.
He did a TV Farewell performance in December 1960. This is available on DVD, as well as newsreel clips, and a documentary, including a Blackpool George Formby Society meeting.
Does anyone know why FEATHER YOUR NEST has never been available on
an authorized video (neither VHS nor DVD) ???
Best wishes, Thomas.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: alanabit
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 01:41 PM

Thanks for giving that story Smokey. I had come across it before but had forgotten it.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Bernard
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 01:56 PM

George was a very clever ukulele player, quite difficult to mimic - the reason why he had his doubters was because there were rumours that he couldn't tune the uke himself, so he had a few on stage with him.

In reality he was such a pro that he was already doing then what a lot of well-respected guitarsists and other string players do nowadays as standard practice - a few instruments in standard or other tunings to save re-tuning in front of the audience, thereby maintaining a slick performance.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 04:28 PM

The so-called innocence of racial stereotyping seems sadly (& tragically) misguided today; it is racist - & it is nauseating. Of it's time? So what? Hitler was of his time too.

I suggest the erotic imagery / sexual metaphor of Butter & Cheese & All goes further than cheese melting up the chimney. With this in mind, I've often introduced the song as Ultimo Tango a Cley-Juxta-Mare. Go figure!


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: tonyteach1
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 04:34 PM

Accusations of racism against someone who died nearly 50 years ago are IMO stupid
Formby was a variety act who graduated to films and TV and was a great professional
He also did a lot of war work entertaining the troops Who I recall were fighting the Nazis who were just a bit racist themselves

Re Mr Woo who ran a laundry became a window cleaner and an Air Raid Warden hardly demeaning THERE ARE MR A NUMBER OF MR WU restaurants all over Soho in London The owners and most of the clientele are Chinese Its like calling an Irish man Murphy like Frank Carson an Irish comic does. The French who are also a tiny bit racist call the English rosbif

I got criticised for singing a version of the Road to Mandalay by an earnest African Caribbean guy who kept on until pointed out that Kipling had written a number of poems in admiration of people from different ethnic backgrounds such as Gunga Din and that his idol Mozart protrayal of Monostatos was hardly non racist


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 04:58 PM

Fornby had a great right hand. Great showman.

Ukulele Ike did have the first "Singin' in the Rain" before Gene Kelly and it has a great
bridge. "Why am I happy and why do I sing? Why does September seem happy as Spring?"
Then is has a great modulation.

Almost any good guitarist can get around pretty well on a uke. Getting some of those
Tahitian rhythms is another thing, though.

The Tahitian Uke seems to be tuned with the first string dropped an octave from the
conventional Uke C,G,E and the A an octave lower. I would imagine that there
are different tunings for this instrument.

"The Uke's predecessor comes from Portugal and is sometimes called the "Machete de Braga". The Jumping Flea. The Portugese brought their 4 stringed guitar or 'Machete de Braga' to Hawaii in 1879, when they emigrated to work in the sugar industry. The Hawaiians were impressed with the speed these musicians' fingers flew on the fingerboard, they dubbed the instrument 'ukulele' or jumping flea. With the support of musical monarchs King Kalaukaua and Queen Lilioukalani, this tiny cross between a guitar and a banjo with its sweet sound and ease of mastering was soon adopted as the National Instrument of Hawaii. Later it spread to the United States and eventually to the world. Today the Ukulele is enjoying a renewed popularity with Uke Festivals held in many states and countries"


"Warren Buffett: Yes, in between counting $ & making pronouncements on the economy, billionaire Buffett really does play the uke. At least he wouldn't have any problem buying as many as he wants."

Now that's rich!


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 06:10 PM

Kipling was racist; Gunga Din is predicated on that very fact. Best be aware of these things...

Turned out nice again, hasn't it?


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 06:22 PM

I can't recall saying the songs were innocent. They were very knowing.

I just can't see racial stereotyping. I think it was called Mr Wu, because Mr Wu rhymes with What shall I do?

You're just rationalising your dislike.

I think your earlier answer confirms my suspicions that the supposed wit of B&C&A is strictly for insecure clever dicks. who wish to assert the superiority of middle class mirthless humour. A merry jape.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Fred Maslan
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 06:34 PM

I am an American who stumbled upon George Formby on Utube. Once you see him you can't forget him. I think he was the model for Wallace of Wallace and Grommit. Family legend has my Father in a ukelele combo in college in the 1920s


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 06:50 PM

I don't dislike George Formby, neither do I dislike Kipling; I can contextualise their racism within the culture of their times but I'm not about to excuse it, much less pretend it something else other than what it was, or that a) that mentality exists today b) it is rancid and has no place in the multi-cultural England I know and love. Of course both Kipling and Formby (died a few months before I was born) are probably gyrating in their graves at the way things turned out, but Gungadin and Mr Wu are both crappy creations of an xenophobic imperialist mindset which the optimist in me believes will vanish one day.

Middle class? Next you'll be holding up Carry On films and (certain) ITV sit-coms as paragons of proletarian enlightenment and racial harmony...


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Smokey.
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 07:17 PM

Formby certainly wasn't a racist, and he wasn't responsible for your interpretation of his song, 50 years later.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 07:51 PM

Well there lies the difference. If Formby were racist, I should dislike him and his work. But he's not.

Never liked Kipling. A good story teller, a decent versifier. But the forced matiness - and surely no one EVER spoke like that. Its a bit like maugham's liza of Lambeth - you get the impression these writers think they have learned about ordinary people and their modes of speech by watching comedians on the music hall.

Carry on Films....variable quality. I disliked them at the time they were released thought they were very uncool.. Nowadays i appreciate the unique talents of the company of players. After a lifetime a performer myself, I can appreciate people who know their craft.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Smokey.
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 08:18 PM

"Never liked Kipling"

I got thrown off a bus for it once.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 09:18 PM

The sources I've checked say that "ukulele" is Hawaiian for "The gift that came here."


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: irishenglish
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 10:10 PM

George Formby and a bunch of other uke greats are mentioned in Chris Leslie's song Ukulele Central on the Festival Bell album. Going back to the original poster, you should check this out for your study. As Chris has said, its a potted history of the ukulele.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Sep 11 - 12:16 AM

Sorry, Sean: think you up the creek re B&C&A ~~ of my performance of which btw you have spoken kindly. I believe you over-interpret it, and am reminded of Freud's warning that sometimes a cigar is simply a cigar.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Gurney
Date: 19 Sep 11 - 03:28 AM

I think some of the posts prove my point about not being able to sing some of the songs without being accused of being racist. :-)

By the way, as well as being an air-raid warden, 'Mr. Wu' was also in the RAF during the war.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 19 Sep 11 - 04:26 AM

Racism is endemic in human culture; indeeed, xenophobia seems one humanity's defining attributes / failings. It is something we all must be very aware of, even in hindsight. Mr Wu is iconic to the Very English cause of seeing Johnny Foreigner as worthy but exotic; his ethnicity reduced to a comededic cliche - Gungadin likewise, though here his cause is one of bypassing the realities of his ethnicity to wallowing in a very mawkish individualism. Kipling's imperialist paternalism is just as patronising in The Land, in which he justifies the inner-apartheid of English social class in terms of its historical contuity. I do The Land as my party-piece, but I'm fully aware of which side of the Great Divide my natural born loyalties lie - I can also applaud a cracking performance of Gungadin, but I'm always aware of which bits the audiences are laughing at.

*

MtheGM - I should have insterted an emoticon on that bit about B&C&A, although in several performances I've witnessed (& given) the implication of the butter being used an anal lubricant for some very rough fisting from his jolly old cook is more than implicit. Indeed I was once asked if the song was Gay. And why not, eh?


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Sep 11 - 04:52 AM

Drift alert ~~ I have often wondered, & mentioned in their reader feedback sites etc, why some papers will always print two-word proper nouns in one word, e.g. Mansionhouse, Trinityhall ... Guardian particularly prone to it.

Sweeney: Kipling's great if hackneyed poem, is called Gunga Din. Please get it right. Remember the watchword

                   Accuracy matters


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 19 Sep 11 - 05:30 AM

What? Even on Mudcat? Hell, if we started pulling each other up for grammar & spelling here we'd be on forever. And is not my spelling of Gungadin by way of the innocent mondegreenal folk-process so beloved of the educated classes in their wonky assessment of the lack of any true creativity of the lower orders but that which is unwitting? In such terms Folk exists by way of cultural condecension and patrogate. So, patronise me, MtheGM, you know I love it!


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 19 Sep 11 - 06:07 AM

'Racism is endemic in human culture; indeeed, xenophobia seems one humanity's defining attributes / failings.'

Well if we've all got it - why mention it. Its a bit like saying that man's got a liver - what a bastard!


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: tonyteach1
Date: 19 Sep 11 - 06:10 AM

How does a thread about a respected dead comic and musician get highjacked by someone with a left wing platform shouting the odds There are other places to do that


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 19 Sep 11 - 07:52 AM

Lots of bad things are innate to the human condition, BAW - the process of civilisation is to overcome them both collectively & individually. Part of that is to see people as unique individuals and not in terms of any superficial racial stereotyping.

get highjacked by someone with a left wing platform shouting the odds

I'm not hijacking; I'm not left-wing; and I'm not shouting the odds. I'm one individual human being simply excercising my right to free speech on a very serious matter with other individual human beings by way of something called a discussion.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 19 Sep 11 - 08:35 AM

'Lots of bad things are innate to the human condition, BAW - the process of civilisation is to overcome them both collectively & individually.'

A bit like original sin then, the thing is about the Jesuits though - - that streak of mean nastiness and finger pointing is such a dereliction of the injunction to judge not less ye be judged - well you can't really take them seriously, can you?


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: melodeonboy
Date: 19 Sep 11 - 08:36 AM

"What's a Brit?"

I think he meant "Briton"!


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 19 Sep 11 - 09:35 AM

A bit like original sin then

No - not in least bit like original sin; original sin is fecked up theological crap concerning impulses which are, in reality, rather quite fun - unlike Xenophobia, which, like other phobias, are always a pain. I'm not advocating 'naturalness' here, or passivity to base impulses which compromise our very humanity, which to succeed must be a) individualistic and b) all embracing.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 19 Sep 11 - 10:03 AM

George Formby - legendary proto punk rock icon

as important to the likes of me as the MC5 and the the Troggs.....


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: mayomick
Date: 19 Sep 11 - 10:50 AM

Thanks Suegorgeous , I'm definitely going to use that one when I get the chance.
"Yes , of course you are Napoleon Bonaparte . And my aunt plays ukelele in a George Formby ensemble."


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Max Johnson
Date: 19 Sep 11 - 11:04 AM

The Beehive in Bradford had a free jukebox when I was a regular there a few years ago, and one of the most popular plays was 'Leaning On The Lampost'. That in a pub where the most popular play was probably Gillian Welsh's 'Elvis Presley Blues'.

Obviously, we played George Formby because we needed a bit of cheering up.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: olddude
Date: 19 Sep 11 - 11:13 AM

Thanks to Will Fly I now got to hear him ... wonderful


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 19 Sep 11 - 01:05 PM

.. and don't forget Herman's Hermits, at the pinnacle of their 'British Invasion' fame,
startled a generation of screaming teenage yank girls
with the delights of George Formby songs
via their electric 'beat group' cover versions...

for instance..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-E2DmzvmPM


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 19 Sep 11 - 01:27 PM

I'm bewildered by this business of racism - perhaps I'm too old to understand. Is enjoying George Formby a 'base impulse'?

The X factor - I could understand......


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Smokey.
Date: 19 Sep 11 - 05:10 PM

I think perhaps cultural stereotypes are being unnecessarily interpreted as racial stereotypes. It seems to be a popular sport these days, armchair antiismism. There's quite enough real racism in the world without inventing more.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 19 Sep 11 - 07:46 PM

to repeat my question which seems to have been submerged in the
racism discussion.....

Does anyone know why the 1937 film FEATHER YOUR NEST has never been available on an authorized video (neither VHS nor DVD) ???
All other extant films are available on DVD.

Thanks.

Best wishes, Thomas.

GEORGE FORMBY FILMS
-------------------------------------------------------------
MANCUNIAN FILMS (John Blakeley)
1934 BOOTS! BOOTS!                      John Willie
1935 OFF THE DOLE                        John Willie

ATP/EALING STUDIOS   Basil Dean, head of Associated Talking Pictures, (later to become Ealing Studios)
1935 No Limit                            George Shuttleworth
1937 Keep Fit                            George Green
1937 Feather Your Nest                   Willie Piper
1938 I See Ice                           George Bright
1938 George Takes the Air (It's In The Air) George Brown
1939 Trouble Brewing                     George Gullip
1939 Come on George!                     George
1940 Keep Your Seats, Please             George Withers
1940 To Hell with Hitler (LET GEORGE DO IT)   George Hepplewhite
1940 Spare a Copper                      George
1941 Turned Out Nice Again               George Pearson

COLUMBIA PICTURES
1941 South American George               George Butters
1942 Much Too Shy                        George Andy
1943 Get Cracking                        George Singleton
1944 He Snoops to Conquer                George Gribble
1944 Bell-Bottom George                  George Blake
1945 I Didn't Do It                      George Trotter
1946 George in Civvy Street             George Harper


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,oh aye!
Date: 19 Sep 11 - 08:18 PM

Did he live in Mere? I never knew that - just up the road, bedad.
I remember watching his HUGE funeral on the BBC News, largely because my little brother nearly choked on a boiled sweet at the same time. Him being held upside down [me brother, not the late George] while my father thumped his back and me hiding behind the settee with my fingers in my ears because I thought he was going to die... it fixes things like that in your memory. Like beating children at every stopping point so they'd remember the 'bounds' of the parish, and oh yes, they did - my great great grandfather was regularly wallopped.
If I had a quid for every time someone says "Turned out nice, hasn't it?" I'd be off on some beach under a hotter sun than we've seen in the middle of Wales all bloody year.
Oh, hell - they'll be asking what a quid is next...
George Formby used to make me laugh out loud on a wet Sunday afternoon.

Yes, we Brits still remember George Formby.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: melodeonboy
Date: 20 Sep 11 - 05:20 AM

"...he was making unsophisticated films for an unsophisticated audience."

Indeed, Max. But essentially no less sophisticated (apart from the clever use of technology that modern productions can employ!) than the films and music videos today's "stars" turn out! :)


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 20 Sep 11 - 05:44 AM

Well, he's certainly remembered in the world of Indie music, viz the lyrics from British Sea Power's song "Lately":

So which way
Do I go to get out of here
Avoiding land mines, and all the other stuff round here
Replacing Hercules with the heroic sounds of Formby
....


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 20 Sep 11 - 06:36 AM

he was making unsophisticated films for an unsophisticated audience

I think the whole unsophisticated bit was a very necessary put on; a mask of innocence that was all part of a very willing suspension by way of a deeper collective catharsis. However low the budgets might have been, the craft was knowing and ultimately empowering with respect of a nation's morale at a time when such entertainment was experienced as part of large audiences & communities. Difficult to imagine that now, watching Bell Bottom George on our very private TV set some 67 years on from the event, even though one might still visit several of the locations used in the film (such as the old ferry ramp on the Jubilee Quay, which also featured in Fleetwood's other film, the psychological thriller Frozen made in 2005). These days that very unsophistication is part of the appeal - an escape (perhaps) into simpler times, for even though the scale of global carnage was a good deal higher than it is now, domestic strife (maybe) wasn't so much of an issue as it is now...


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Max Johnson
Date: 20 Sep 11 - 07:32 AM

But essentially no less sophisticated (apart from the clever use of technology that modern productions can employ!) than the films and music videos today's "stars" turn out! :)

Indeed, melodeonboy, I had the exact same thought. In fact, without wanting to sound curmudgeonly, if we consider the social and cultural environment of his and Gracie's target audience 75 years ago, they were a great deal more sophisticated in that they never attempted to talk down to that audience. Always looked them straight in the eye, as it were. That's why it worked.
I don't think he could be described as a great actor though. He makes Will Hay look like Richard Burton.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 20 Sep 11 - 07:40 AM

I like 'Me Auntie Maggie's Home-made Remedy' best. Adore his songs. the words are hilarious. It's said Queen Mary (widow of George V) loved the window-cleaner song! It's true that he sang at a time when we all needed cheering up. To my mind, he epitomised the 'Dunkirk Spirit' of making the best of things, and smiling through difficulties, a great British characteristic.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Bert
Date: 20 Sep 11 - 07:52 AM

Yup! I remember him. I even sang "Why don't women like me?" on Mudcat Radio one time.

As for his musical ability HE was the one who confessed on TV that he couldn't play the Banjo and told how he brought a different instrument on stage for different songs. I don't see that it matters, he was still great. And for what it is worth I remember seeing Johnny Cash on TV one time when his guitar was out of tune and he gave it to someone else to tune.

As for racist, there is a world of difference between racism, stereotyping and just plain teasing people because they are different.

The latter was de rigeur in London when I was growing up. If you were foreign you were a wog, If you were from Scotland you were Jock, Wales you were Taffy. If you were from the country you were a swede gnawer or carrot cruncher and if you came from South of The River you needed a passport. One didn't mind being named from ones place of origin, whether you were a Geordie or a Cockney. It was all in good fun. Good Lord, people will be complaining when we sing Cosher Bailey next.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 20 Sep 11 - 08:13 AM

Max ~~ IMO Will Hay could knock 700 spots off Richard Burton as an actor any day of the week.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 20 Sep 11 - 08:27 AM

I went to lecture by the Lancashire Dialect Society, s few years ago at Fylde FF. Formby was alluded to as an embodiment of a character who has appeared in Lancashire folk tales from as long ago as the 17th century.

Namely the apparently naive fool - who is not such a fool as we are led to believe by the story teller.

The humour is very knowing. The deep cultural roots of the role Formby played - (almost certainly without crerebrating on the matter) - informs his performance at a very deep level, and that's maybe why it worked so well, for so many people. Not everyone is required to be a fan though.

Was it Eric Morecambe who said - George had a way with a song, but when not singing he was about as funny as a cry for help.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 20 Sep 11 - 09:20 AM

Hmmmm - Formby as Jack-archetype, eh? It extends a lot further than Lancashire; in fact, I'd argue that there are few instances of it unique to the county as far as that particular character goes. Jack (call him what you will) is a good deal richer than Formby, who is the embodyment of a more mawkish sort of idiocy which finds it apotheosis in the irksome antics of Norman Wisdom. Jack is all cunning; his tales display growth, wisdom and surreal twists of heroic outsider logic which are entirely absent from a George Formby narrative. For sure, Formby invariably gets the girl (as does Norman) but the acceptance of this by the audience is part of the aforementioned suspension. Can that really happen in the real world? No. Of course it can't. This is pure escapism. Unlike the Jack-folktales, of course, where by his wit, cunning and knowing charm, Jack gets the girl by means which are entirely (and logically) convincing, no matter how far fetched the devices employed (magic harps, whistles, harps, quilts, ogres, talking fish, and (my favourite!) an old woman who has been stuck to a tree by nose for over 100 years). George has his trusty uke, of course, which has the ability to enchant in a very different way; to astonish by a skill which indicates there must be something more to his blustering buffoonery, but what this is we are are never told - only in vague metaphor. Perhaps the clues are in the song-lyrics which consist of smut and knob-gags in which the commonplace is transfigured into a erotic paradise however so deceptive that paradise might be...


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Emberto Uco
Date: 20 Sep 11 - 10:10 AM

do what..???

crikey it's amazing what some folks can get up to and do with a bit of college edumecation.. !!!???

and here's us thinking he was just a daft bugger singing silly saucy novelty songs for a living....


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Alan Day
Date: 20 Sep 11 - 01:45 PM

Thanks for a lot of memories.I too remember George at the Isle of Man TT races, did he stop for a kiss before going past the whole field to win.
His Wife kept him on a tight chain, or was his eye for the women part of the act?
Gracie Fields also used the giggle to great effect.
Al


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Max Johnson
Date: 25 Sep 11 - 10:15 AM

I just read that the artist Lucian Freud was an extra in 'Much Too Shy'.
Now that's sophisticated.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 27 Oct 11 - 03:48 PM

A real treat for George Formby fans:

Frank Skinner on George Formby - BBC4 9.00 & 12.30 midnight


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: BTNG
Date: 27 Oct 11 - 04:05 PM

this is really great news, Suibhne...you might be interested to know that George Formby's films, No Limit, Feather Your Nest, Keep Fit and it's in the Air are available to view on line or download from the Internet Archive. Loook under Feature Films, alphabetical order


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Bert
Date: 27 Oct 11 - 05:58 PM

To say Our George was Unsophisticated is completely untrue.

He was extremely "Worldly-wise" as his lyrics* show and his delivery and stage presence were close to perfect.

His ability could put a song across and capture his audience would put most modern singers to shame.



*with one eye and one arm gone west, she ran like the devil and she grabbed the rest.

They don't write them like that nowadays.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Patsy
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 05:22 AM

Frank Skinner on George Formby was for me the best program documenting his life that I've seen for a long time renewing my interest in the star. It was surprising how many songs I could recall and sing along to considering it was not something my generation of teenagers would admit to knowing or liking in the 60s/70s. So his songs must have had an impact on me in a similar way that the Beatles did. In fact George Formby is more of a working class hero than John Lennon of that time.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 06:17 AM

Working class?? Perhaps not. But no matter, the programme was a fascinating window presented with genuine respect by someone who genuinely loves the subject - with some quite thrilling uke to boot! I didn't realise there were THREE Beryldenes on the Fylde. We regularly doff our caps as we pass Gathallen at Singleton, but we'll be keeping our eyes peeled for Cintra next time were in Lytham St. Annes..

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/3289200/Inside-story-Beryldene.html

Any GFS members here??


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: C Stuart Cook
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 08:00 AM

Apart from the fact that he's the only person in living memory to have won a race at the TT's and won the Grand National he also provides the musical interlude for a key scene in the recent release of "Tinker , Tailor......". Could they have got that logbook without George's Banjolele strumming away??


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 05:54 PM

Really enjoyed the Frank Skinner prog. It was so sad to hear George Formby senior on an old recording, trying to sing but coughing badly. He was dying of TB, and only lived to 42, I believe. George Formby jun was brought up in a luxurious home, his parents were quite well-off.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 28 Oct 11 - 10:21 PM

Theres the remains of a house at Wroxham on the Norfolk Broads, that George and Beryl lived in. If you take river trip, they will point it out. If you have a rowing boat, you can wander round the ruin of it.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: C Stuart Cook
Date: 29 Oct 11 - 03:31 AM

In banjolele/uke terms the other important Brit, who was big (literally) on both sides of the pond was Tessie O'Shea. YouTube videos are there to see.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 29 Oct 11 - 12:03 PM

The programmes made me think of joining the GFS.

http://www.georgeformby.co.uk/

The thing that puts me off is that I know how hard I have to work on my guitar playing, I'm not willing to make that sort of committment to the uke.

Is anyone else thinking along the same lines?


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 30 Oct 11 - 05:15 AM

I remember an appearance by Tessie O'Shea on the Wheeltappers and Shunters Club where she had the entire audience strumming away on paper bag ukuleles. Easy to make, just take a brown paper pag, scrunch up the open end into a sort on neck, and strum away on the wide end. I taped it off Granada Plus (what later became ITV 3 I think) which used to show old episodes of W&SC on a daily basis a ten years back & more. A fascinating window into a long vanished world, where through the heavy haze of fag smoke the spectre of Johnny Ray would materialise and sing The Little White Cloud that Cried. Colin Crompton's interuptions as 'The Chaiman' were part of British folklore. One such was the famous 'bingo routine' where the entire audience shouted 'House!' at once, whereupon Crompton drawled: "We must have a word with t'printers again."


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Will Fly
Date: 30 Oct 11 - 05:30 AM

Well now, Suibhne, do you remember the wonderful Dave Morris and his "Club Night"?


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Max Johnson
Date: 30 Oct 11 - 07:39 AM

I saw Tessie O'Shea when I was about seven or eight years old in the first Christmas pantomime (and I think the first theatre) I ever went to. She played the uke, and I remember her singing her signature song 'Two Ton Tessie', and the audience at the Birmingham Alhambra went crazy. Wonderful.

I never saw George, unfortunately.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 30 Oct 11 - 08:06 AM

My impression is that George Formby, unlike his father, didn't do that many live theatrical performances ~~ unlike, also, Tessie O'Shea, whom I too recall seeing in the early 40s at the Theatre Royal [or was it the Hippodrome?], Northampton.

Am I right that he mainly stuck to film?

~M~


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Will Fly
Date: 30 Oct 11 - 08:21 AM

George made his first proper film in 1934 "Boots, Boots" - and started off as a live entertainer in 1921 - so he had a dozen years or so on the boards before the films came along and made him. He suffered his first heart attack in 1952, during the run of his successful stage musical "Zip Goes a Million." He withdrew from the show, and confined his performances to occasional guest appearances on stage and TV.

Reading between the lines here, it suggests to me that George's live performances were probably far less frequent after the film successes but, without evidence from theatre bills, etc., it's difficult to say.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Patsy
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 05:54 AM

I didn't realise that he was quite so comfortably off. Also watching the Betty Driver tribute it seems that he and his wife objected to Betty appearing in a film with them for fear of being upstaged.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,AEOLA
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 10:10 AM

Very interesting thread, I live in Formby ( just up the road from Crosby!) Yes Percy French is buried here, but the interesting bit is that my wife's Uncle & Aunt lived next door to George & Beryl in Mains Lane, Singleton but Goerge was never allowed to visit on his own. Beryl was very jealous ( not without good cause I believe) she was also very tight on the purse strings and doled out his pocket money. Just referring to the ' racist ' bit, I don't think he knew the meaning of the word!! as many of us didn't long ago!!


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 11:05 AM

I hope I've established my life-long and continued fondness for George Formby, however to call Oh Mr Wu anything but misplaced racial stereotyping is naive in the extreme; to think it has a place in the Endland of today is just plain misguided. I'm not throwing the baby out with the bathwater here; I'm equally fond of Vivian Stanshall but find his fancy-dress exploits around the London clubs with Keith Moon beyond the pale. Onwards & upwards, eh??


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 11:48 AM

Mr Wu is just a comic song about a Chinese laundryman [as many laundrymen were at the time: hence the term Chinese laundry] whose work is suffering as he has grown careless because he has fallen in love. It's a funny song, with one or two of those suggestive non-rhymes ("Oh Mr Wu has got a funny little eye that flickers, You ought to see it wobble when he irons ladies' blouses" ~ oh tut tut & deary-me!).

Wu is a common Chinese name ~ I have a dear friend called Professor Wu Ningkun.   

That's all. What on earth is supposed to be racist about it, for crying out loud?

~M~


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Will Fly
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 11:51 AM

The Formbys were arrested in South Africa and bundled out of the country for refusing to play to segregated audiences - Beryl said to Malan, "Piss off, you horrible little man!" Perhaps actions speak louder than words.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 12:12 PM

The Formby's behaviour in South Africa is, of course, examplary; doesn't mean Oh Mr Wu isn't racial stereotyping though, or that it has a place in the multi-cultural England I was born into & love very dearly. I also love Dudley D. Watkins but have always found the racial stereotyping we find in Desperate Dan and Lord Snooty beyond the pale too. Harmless fun? Having had Chinese friends beaten up whilst being taunted with chants of Oh Mr Wu then forgive me for taking it a little more seriously. One guy turned up at our old folk club a few year's back and gave us his update: Mr Wu Runs a Gay Bar Now (Oh Mr Wu, ooh, get you!); in the next song he was lamenting how the fish & chip shop of his childhood ho,e is now a Chinese Takeaway. Sad thing was - people loved it. I walked out in disgust. But, hey, I've seen racism and homophobia at the front line - and it really is no laughing matter believe me.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Will Fly
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 12:17 PM

I once had the interesting experience of singing "Mr. Wu" with a jazz band (me on tenor banjo) - many, many years ago. I couldn't understand why the rest of the band were looking at me and pissing themselves laughing.

When I put my specs on, I saw - to my total embarrassment - half a dozen Chinese people in the front row... To their credit, one of them came up to me afterwards and said how much he and his friends had enjoyed the band.

I still felt like a tit.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 12:36 PM

---Having had Chinese friends beaten up whilst being taunted with chants of Oh Mr Wu then forgive me for taking it a little more seriously.---

Bollocks, Sean. Complete confusion of post hoc & propter hoc. They'd have been beaten up anyhow for being Chinese & hence other; not to mention for being THERE; not because the yobbos happened to know a song called Mr Wu. If they hadn't had this song to fall back on, they'd have found another chant. Or do you think they'd have said, "Oh, I say, chaps; we can't beat this Chin{ese fellow} up because we haven't an appropriate song to do it to, dontchaknow?" I have had Jewish friends beaten up, but their attackers didn't sing Cohen The Crooner as they did it...

It isn't even a stereotype: the humour of the song derives from a man in love being careless, not from his being Chinese.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 01:29 PM

The scars run too deep for levity, Michael - and the legacy endures, wherever you personally feel the humour of the thing lies. Fact is, stereotyping is stereotyping; it is reducing and ridiculing humanity in terms of xenophobic cliche in the God Allmighty Tradition of British Imperial Superiority.

Taking of which, I also love Kipling, but I happen to think Gunda Din is racist crap as well, no matter how well intentioned its mawkish over-weening sentiment.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Bert
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 02:15 PM

...doesn't mean Oh Mr Wu isn't racial stereotyping though, or that it has a place in the multi-cultural England....


How can you tell if a society is multi cultural if you don't have racial stereotyping?


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 03:27 AM

stereotyping is stereotyping;===

I don't disagree, Sean. I just don't find any stereotyping in this particular instance. A man called Wu - which is, as I have pointed out, a common Chinese name - runs a laundry - many of which, offering a particular kind of excellence of service, were Chinese laundries (and thus called by their proprietors: this one would have had "Wu's Chinese Laundry" proudly inscribed over the door: I remember them from the 1930s) at the time. WHERE IS THE STEREOTYPING here? I honestly cannot see any.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 03:28 AM

...and where did you find any 'levity' in my last post? I have just read it, and it is purely factual. This is not a topic I would dream of approaching or treating with 'levity'.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 03:36 AM

... to clarify: remember the difference, please, between IRONY, which is something one may well employ, as I attempted to do here, in support of a reasoned argument; & LEVITY, which is something else entirely. It is misplaced contentiousness to accuse a point of obvious ironic intent of being an instance of levity.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 03:42 AM

And there is no 'xenophobia' there either ~~ unless it be that retrospectively, anachronistically, and irrelevantly introduced by your own over-scrupulous guilty consciousness that our ancestors didn't think of everything in exactly the same terms as we do. This is a self-indulgent, not an intelligent, take on the matter, surely?


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Max Johnson
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 05:43 AM

Good heavens, is that the time? Catch you all later.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 07:06 AM

The levity is the humour of the song, still sung as 'harmless fun'; the stereotyping and the xenophobia go hand in hand - to write such a character is ethnic stereoptyping. Perhaps we could stretch that to an enduring fascination with diverse Exotica, which has a long & noble tradition right back to Purcell's Indian Queen and beyond, but I think that would be over generous in the present instance, which is perhaps as much as I can say? I just find the song uncomfortable & offensive; I always have. George is at his best when he sticks to the smutty innuendo and knob-gags.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 07:32 AM

Sean ~~ The Chinese were positively PROUD of their laundry-related status. A song about one who comically fell short of their ideal thru falling in love was in the nature of a COMPLIMENT to their usual expertise in the field which they would have appreciated. There was no "levity", in the pejorative sense in which you use the term [& you have shifted your ground here ~ it was me, not George, whom you seemed to accuse of levity before, but now it seems to be him]; no 'ethnic stereotyping' of a sort that the demographic itself could, or would, possibly object to. So what's your great problem? Live with it, for heavens sake...

~M~


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Buddhuu
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 08:26 AM

I have a hypersensitivity to racism, but even so I can find nothing racist in Chinese Laundry Blues.

In fact, the only one of Formby's Mr Wu songs that makes me wince is the Air Raid Warden one with its use of the slang term 'chink'. But even that one is not used in malice - rather it is a simple comic pun (poor quality and judgement, admittedly). If I recall correctly, Formby didn't write the 'Mr Wu's an Air Raid Warden' one.

Formby was fantastic. A top-notch entertainer.

As far as racism is concerned, if anything the evidence is that he and his wife had little time for that kind of nonsense. It is widely reported that on a trip to South Africa, Mrs F directed some very blunt words at the Nationalist Party leader who objected to her hugging a little black girl who had given her some chocolates.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Buddhuu
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 08:32 AM

Just spotted that Will kind of beat me to the South Africa reference.

I agree with confronting racism in music and everywhere else, but if that is one's mission then Formby is not the place to look for trouble.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Will Fly
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 08:49 AM

I think there was much worse stuff than Formby in the 1930s. I shudder every time I read the casual anti-semitism and stereotyping of Jews in Dorothy Sayers's detective fiction. It crops up occasionally in Priestley ("The Good Companions"), though perhaps in not quite as snobbish a way as Sayers.

Always difficult to judge the mores of the time from today's standpoint but, even allowing for the distance between then and now, the anti-semitism's pretty horrible.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 01 Nov 11 - 09:20 AM

Yay, Will. I always loved DLS, but found that bit hard. I had a lot to say of this on the entry I wrote on her for The Continuum Encyclopedia Of British Literature.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 19 Jan 12 - 06:46 AM

It's Turned out Nice Again

Two Norfolk authors have written the first authorised biography of a great 20th century entertainer, George Formby, who called Norfolk his second home.

It's turned out nice again


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 19 Jan 12 - 11:43 AM

fascinating!


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: matt milton
Date: 20 Jan 12 - 06:18 AM

The Frank Skinner programme was great - and shows that George Formby and his missus were the best kind of anti-racists, actually putting their money where their mouth was and confronting racist South Africans head-on (as far as a light entertainer/comedian in a foreign country can).

When you think of WHEN that was - a good few decades before toleration of Apartheid became utterly unacceptable in mainstream popular culture (eg The Specials 'Free Nelson Mandela', Spitting Image's 'I've Never Met a Nice South African') it goes to show that George Formby was a decent human with no time for that kind of disgusting inequality.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: matt milton
Date: 20 Jan 12 - 06:30 AM

I've rather mellowed on the "of its time" argument.

I think, if you look at the lyrics of "Mr Wu" and other Formby songs, they exemplify a kind of playground racism - you can imagine if a song like that was on TV, the next day all the chinese kids getting that sung at them by the white kids. But at least the Mr Wu charactre is part of the community, a neighbour, a valued one at that, and a class equal.

So I think you'd have to be either stupid or a racist to sing that song now, but I don't think it's a racist song in the sense of promulgating racial hatred, or theories of racial superiority. It's just unthinking, unquestioning and parochial. "Of its time".

It is certainly not "of its time", in the way Adolf Hitler was "of his time". Quite apart from anything, you had a similarly cloying, vernacular, playground racism persisting in Britain right through the 1970s.


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Subject: Lyr Add: IN A LITTLE WIGAN GARDEN (George Formby)
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 20 Jan 12 - 06:34 AM

The Frank Skinner doc did single out "In a Little Wigan Garden" as being a good example of how Formby's double-entendres careered into the surreal.

"When the morning mildew christens our shallots": that's a great line!

I think you can see some of the influence of British folksong in there...


IN A LITTLE WIGAN GARDEN
Written by Fred E. Cliffe & Harry Gifford
Performed by George Formby in "No Limit" (1935)

Talk of your beautiful meadows and fields and your parks so grand
Talk of your wonderful gardens down at Kew.
I know a spot that can beat all the lot it's the best I've seen
Keep all your hills and dales, put me with the slugs and snails.

In a little Wigan garden, where the dandelions grow
With my sweetie frowsy Flo round the mulberry bush we go
Underneath the Wigan Palm trees there I bring her up to scratch
We have such a game on the cucumber frame;
I'd show her the cabbage patch

When the morning mildew christens our shallots,
Scented breezes coming from the chimney pots
In a little Wigan Garden, when the soot is falling down
Oh what a place, what a case, a disgrace to my hometown.

All sorts of things come with wings some with stings every night appear
Glow worms and silkworms and Wigan earwigs too.
Crocuses croak with the fog and the smoke from the gasworks near
The one thing that only grows, is the wart on my sweeties nose

In a little Wigan garden with my little Wiganese
Getting stung with bumble bees, between the cabbages and peas
'Neath the Wigan water lilies where the drainpipe overflows
There's my girl and me she sits on my knee
And watch how the rhubarb grows

'Neath the shady tree to my loved one I cling
While the birds above do everything but sing
It's a rotten Wigan garden, everything grows upside down
Oh what a place what a case, a disgrace to my hometown.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 20 Jan 12 - 06:50 AM

In 1946 Beryl and George toured South Africa shortly before formal racial apartheid was introduced, where they refused to play racially-segregated venues. According to Formby's biographer, when George was cheered by a black audience after embracing a small black girl who had presented his wife with a box of chocolates, National Party leader Daniel François Malan (who later introduced apartheid) phoned to complain; Beryl replied "Why don't you piss off you horrible little man?".
From Wikipedia


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Baz Bowdidge
Date: 20 Jan 12 - 07:09 AM

The entire Frank Skinner programme on George Formby (59 mins) is on Youtube:
Click Here - Frank Skinner on George Formby (BBC)


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Tootler
Date: 20 Jan 12 - 01:03 PM

In the Frank Skinner Programme, it says that after the incident described by henryp above, Formby then performed for small black communities and was eventually deported from South Africa. They were put on a plane and told they not to come back.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,AEOLA
Date: 20 Jan 12 - 03:39 PM

As a youngster in the 40's I'd never heard of racism, was this something introduced by the ' do-gooders',, 'elf & safety' etc..???


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 20 Jan 12 - 04:25 PM

looking at Amazon UK, there seem to be 2 editions, the "2nd revised edition" from December 2011.
What is the difference between them???

Thanks, Thomas.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,ed
Date: 16 Feb 12 - 11:23 AM

Absolutely, I'm 39 and can't remember a time when I didn't know about George Formby. If you have seen his face and heard him sing there is little chance you would forget him and bearing in mind his films crop up on British tv every now and again I think most people with some cultural awareness beyond a vary narrow, marketed mainstream would know who he is. I think if you were to compile a top 100 list of British cultural icons of the 20th century he would be on it somewhere. Possibly top 50.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 16 Feb 12 - 11:36 AM

In the forties, in Middlesex, absolutely everyone at school had a nickname depending on their race, origin or even hair colour. We had, Eyeties, Ginger, Specky, Wops, Taffies, Macks, Shorty, Lanky, Chinky, Sambo etc etc. I was Skinny, or The Galloping Hairpin. None of it was malicious or intended to upset. In fact, if you didn't have a nickname you'd have felt a bit out of it. But I concede that times have changed (unfortunately) and people would be very angry with these things nowadays. Oh how innocent we all were then!


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 16 Feb 12 - 12:55 PM

Indeed, Eliza ~~ tho my nickname was not racial or physical, but nominal. I was "Jerry" - 'Jerry Myer'! Geddit! So, I discovered later, was my father when he was at school.

Best

~M~


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 16 Feb 12 - 01:32 PM

Hahaha! LOL! Jerry Myer! Love it! I only wish I was Skinny now. Fatty more like!


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Joe Nicholson
Date: 17 Feb 12 - 11:09 AM

As a child in the 30-s and 40-s I loved George Formby. I learned and could sing all his songs, I even had a toy Ukulele from Woolworths (altough I could not get a tune out of it). But then when I was sixteen in 1948 I saw him live at Leeds Empire and a was shocked to realise just how bad his stage act was. It did nothing for me at all or was it just that going of George was just part of growing up


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 17 Feb 12 - 12:42 PM

Jerry Myer? = very lavish!


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 17 Feb 12 - 02:11 PM

It's rumoured that Queen Mary adored his songs, especially the Windowcleaner. She knew all the words.
My parents loathed George, I could never discover why, but I suspect he represented 'Oop North' and they thought 'Dahn Sahf' was infinitely superior! I've always loved his songs, and have several CD's of them.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: alanabit
Date: 17 Feb 12 - 02:23 PM

There is a story of him being invited to sing personally for the royal family. Apparently at Queen Mary's request, he reinstated a couple of verses of "The Window Cleaner", which had been censored by the BBC for being too risqué!


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 Feb 12 - 03:23 PM

Jerry Myer. Kids were definitely more literate in those days. Its like something from Ulysses - Rose of Castille - rows of cast steel


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Jan 13 - 04:38 AM

Brits!!!
Isn't that racial stereotyping? LOL


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Sanjay Sircar
Date: 19 Jan 13 - 09:51 PM

If "Mr Woo's a Window Cleaner" was 1940 (?), and "On the Bar on the Piccola Marina" is 1954 (?), is the musical resemblance between the main line of the first and the choris of the second (Uncle Harry's not a missionary now") just in my head, or is it actually there?

Sanjay Sircar


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Mr Red
Date: 20 Jan 13 - 10:05 AM

yes and yes - probably (above and OP)

All pop music has these similarities - it is a feature of "wot wurks, wot sells", and don't forget the song "Mr Woo's a Window Cleaner Now"
Is that cashing-in on an old success or what?

cf Neil Sedaka in his Calendar Girl day.

In the book "How to be a Succesful Songwriter" the one common bit of advice from many well-known and respected pop composers (inc Sedaka) was to: "Take a song, write new lyrics, then write a new tune to that"

I think the word is "derivative" but in the throw-away mental wallpaper that is "popular consumption", derivative is easy money all too often.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 20 Jan 13 - 05:14 PM

Ukulele Ike was one of the first to do Gershwin songs like "Fascinatin' Rhythm" where he could imitate an early jazz trumpet in his scat singing. One of his classics was the song "If I Had You".

There might be some connection between the styles of Formby and Edwards.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 24 Jul 16 - 04:16 PM

Back in 2011 I posted a question and list of George Formby's films.
At that time FEATHER YOUR NEST was unavailable in a legitimate DVD
release.
I've just learned that the film is now available in the
series EALING STUDIOS RARITIES COLLECTION, Vol.14. released in 2014.
This DVD contains the following films:
LONELY ROAD (1936)
THE SIGN OF FOUR (1932)
THE WATER GIPSIES (1932)
FEATHER YOUR NEST (1937)

Best wishes, Thomas.


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Subject: RE: Do Brits remember George Formby?
From: keberoxu
Date: 24 Jul 16 - 05:43 PM

Of all people to introduce one to George Formby:
I first learned of him by reading about a visit to a dog racetrack -- by vet James Herriot, to treat a few greyhounds.


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