Happy! – Jan 11 (McCurdy)
Subject: Happy! – Jan 11 (McCurdy)|
From: Abby Sale
Date: 11 Jan 06 - 09:17 AM
One of the best was born in Willow Hill, PA
(Died in Halifax, N.S., March 23, 2000)
Doug Yeager sent the following to Mike Regenstreif
Our unforgettable Brother, Ed McCurdy, gospel, children, folk and erotic singer, actor, songwriter of "The Strangest Dream," and one the planets great characters and indefatigable spirits, left us in his sleep at 9:37 am Thursday morning, lying in his bed next to his beloved wife Beryl, at their home in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He was 81. Born in Willow Hill, Pennsylvania, Ed headed west during the Depression to make his career as a gospel singer. By 1937, the young man with the booming baritone voice, landed a job singing on Oklahoma's top gospel radio station WKY, in Oklahoma City, and by the next year he became their most popular disc jockey. However, by 1939, wanderlust hit him again, and he headed to Chicago, where he auditioned for Sally Rand, The Queen of Burlesque. She was looking for a tall (6'2"), handsome, tuxedoed baritone with a booming voice, who would sing romantic songs to her in her act, and push her nude torso on her swing in center stage. She hired him on the spot. And for the next several years, together they toured the world's most prestigious burlesque theatres, with Fat Jack Leonard as their comedian. In 1946, Ed immigrated to Canada, and began hosting a popular CBC-Radio musical variety talk show in Vancouver, and in 1949, moved the show to Toronto where it continued until 1952. During this six year period, virtually every popular American and European musical star and recording artist appeared on his show, including the top American folk singers of the era, who became his good friends. During this period, he would also meet a beautiful young dancer Beryl, who would become his wife and mother of his three children. In 1952, he began writing and acting for CBC Radio & TV children's programs, and that same year recorded his first album, "Ed McCurdy Sings Songs of the Canadian Maritimes." However, it was one night in 1950, after a long night of drink and no sleep, that would give Ed his immortality. That night, on the floor of his Toronto hotel room, bottle in one hand, pen in the other, he wrote his signature song, "(Last Night I Had) The Strangest Dream," which would become one of the centuries most enduring peace songs. Recorded in 76 languages, by major artists around the world, it would become the Peace Corps' Theme Song (as recorded by Josh White, Jr.); and in 1989, as the world witnessed the crumbling of the Berlin wall on international television, the cameras poignantly showed East German school children singing "The Strangest Dream," from their school yards. In 1954, Ed moved to New York, where he would be begin a long recording relationship with Elektra Records. His shared his first album for Elektra, "Bad Men & Heroes," with Oscar Brand and Jack Elliott, and would later go on to become one of America's major folk artists. That same year, he also landed a job starring as "Freddy, The Fireman," on the popular New York children's television show by the same name. And he would also later become the announcer for network television's "George Gobel Show." However, his recording career took a major leap forward in 1957, when he began recording a series of albums under the title, "When Dalliance Was In Flower." This album series, with songs of risqué subject matter, became a favorite for college students around the globe, and his concert touring flourished. For many years to come, friends and fans would joyously refer to him as `Dirty Ed McCurdy,' but he would often bristle at the thought, and reprimand any blasphemer in his booming Shakespearean bellow, "My Songs are Not DIRTY, They Are EROTIC!" Ed would appear at four Newport Folk Festivals, and appear on Vanguard's Festival albums. He would also record extensively for Tradition and Riverside Records. As the new generation of young folk artists appeared in the 1960s, Ed's folk career began to decline, as did his health. In the 1970s, he was bedridden for most of the decade with severe heart, cancer and back conditions and major operations. However, in the 1980s, as his health improved, Ed and Beryl sold their New York apartment and moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia. From 1983, into the early 90s, Ed resurrected his recording and performing career in Canada, and began a new career as a successful character actor on Canadian television dramas, displaying his ramrod stature, ornamented by his white hair and beard--usually portraying men with the evangelical imperiousness of John Brown. In recent years, Ed's back, heart and lungs started deteriorating, leaving him bound to a wheel chair. But for all those who would telephone Ed in the recent years, he would always rise to the occasion, offer you his mellifluous voice, ask about old friends, and usually share a humorous `erotic' antidote with you and laugh that glorious laugh. . .
Ed was one of a kind. We will all miss him dearly. . . .
"Last night I had the strangest dream I ever dreamed before, I dreamed the world had all agreed to put an end to war. I dreamed I saw a mighty room, and that room was filled with men, And the paper they were signing said, `We'd never fight again!' And when the paper was all signed and a million copies made, They all joined hands and bowed their heads and grateful prayers were prayed.
And the people in the streets below were dancing round and round, While swords and guns and uniforms lay scattered on the ground. Last night I had the strangest dream I ever dreamed before, I dreamed the world had all agreed to put an end to war. . . " See you in our dreams Ed...with undying love,
Thanks to the prompting of Judi Weinstein on rec.music.folk, I became one of Ed's semi-regular phoners. I was grateful to be able to contact and support one of my early heroes. Ed was grateful for the calls – he thought he'd been completely forgotten. Not likely!
Copyright © 2005, Abby Sale - all rights reserved
What are Happy's all about? See Clicky
Subject: RE: Happy! – Jan 11 (McCurdy)|
Date: 11 Jan 06 - 09:50 AM
Obviously a good day for us all, when Ed McCurdy was born. (sigh--But sadly, no longer with us.) I wonder who among us, in 50 yrs. or so, will rate the Happys and laudatory obits. I'll enjoy watching our progress. Tw