Electro-Vox – Farewell Message of King Edward VIII – 1936

On December 11th in 1936, King Edward VIII abdicated the throne to marry the American Wallis Simpson, becoming the Duke of Windsor.  After revealing his plans to marry Simpson to British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, his cabinet informed him that the people would not tolerate the divorced woman as queen, as remarriage was opposed by the Church of England.  King Edward was faced with three options: to dump Wallis, to go against the wishes of the British government, or to abdicate the throne.  Unwilling to give up his fiancée, Edward chose to abdicate.  He signed the papers on December 10, and on the evening of December 11, 1936, King Edward VIII, in a speech broadcast around the world via radio, formally abdicated the throne of England, and his brother, George VI became king thereafter.  After the change, George granted Edward the title of “Duke of Windsor”.  George would be the king that would see England into World War II.

This unnumbered Electro-Vox record was recorded December 11, 1936 in Los Angeles, California from the live radio broadcast of King Edward VIII’s abdication speech in London.  This speech was also issued on a variety of other labels, including Brunswick and Columbia.  Many of those other issues were on standard sized ten-inch records; this one is a twelve-inch.

Besides the speech, one highlight of this recording is a chance to hear the tolling of Big Ben.

Farewell Message, recorded December 11, 1936 by King Edward VIII.

Farewell Message, recorded December 11, 1936 by King Edward VIII.

Spotlight: Ruth Etting

Ruth Etting, circa 1930 (signed in 1932).

Ruth Etting, circa 1930 (signed in 1932).

“America’s Sweetheart of Song” was the appellation given to Ruth Etting, one which she truly deserved.  Etting rose to prominence in the middle of the Roaring Twenties, appearing in Ziegfeld Follies.  Marrying a gangster, falling in love with another, and becoming one of the most popular singing stars of stage, screen, record, and radio until she left the limelight in the late 1930s, going on to enjoy a long retirement thereafter.  Her sweetly feminine vocal styling charmed a generation of listeners, and continue to impress those who have the fortune of hearing her recordings to this day.

Ruth Etting was born November 23, 1897 in David City, Nebraska, daughter of Alfred and Winifred Etting.  After her mother died, when the young Ruth was five, she was sent to live with her grandparents, George and Hannah.  Growing up, Ruth dreamed of becoming an artist, and spent her hours drawing and sketching whenever and wherever she could.  Hoping to become an illustrator, Etting left home to attend an art school in Chicago.  Taking a variety of jobs while in Chicago, Etting was eventually asked to fill in for an ailing vocalist at a nightclub, and she obliged.  Having never been schooled in voice, Etting lowered her naturally high soprano as she began singing professionally.  She claimed her style to have been influenced by Marion Harris.

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Supertone 9188 – Chubby Parker – 1927

For your listening pleasure, after a brief and unintentional hiatus, I offer this fine folk record on this nice Gennett Supertone by WLS artist Chubby Parker.

Frederick R. “Chubby” Parker, born in 1876, was a Chicago-based banjo player and folk singer popular on the National Barn Dance on WLS radio in the 1920s, which was a precursor to the famous Grand Ole Opry.  Parker was born in Lafayette, Indiana, and graduated from Purdue in 1898 as an electrical engineer.  He reportedly worked as a circus performer, and later as an electrician, patent attorney, and inventor in Chicago before turning to radio.  Parker became a very popular performer on WLS and allegedly received almost 3,000 fan letters in one week in February 1927.  He left radio and recording after 1931, with one final appearance on WLS in 1936.  He died in 1940.

Supertone 9188 was recorded on February 26, 1927 (perhaps the same week he got all those letters) in Chicago, Illinois, recorded by the Starr Piano Company, producers of Gennett Records.  Radio station WLS (an acronym for “World’s Largest Store”) was owned by Sears, Roebuck & Company, and they were eager to market records by their popular radio artists on their record labels such as Silvertone and this Supertone.

Parker’s “I’m a Stern Old Bachelor” is probably the first recording of this folk song, but I can’t guarantee it, and I haven’t researched it in depth.

I'm a Stern Old Bachelor, recorded February 26, 1927.

I’m a Stern Old Bachelor, recorded February 26, 1927.

Parker’s excellent “Bib-a-Lollie-Boo” has the distinction of being featured on Dust-to-Digital’s fine multimedia set “I Listen to the Wind that Obliterates My Traces”, and features some gems of lyrics that can be found in the little widget that displays song lyrics at the top of the home page of this site.

Bib-A-Lollie-Boo, recorded February 26, 1927 by Chubby Parker.

Bib-A-Lollie-Boo, recorded February 26, 1927 by Chubby Parker.

Updated with improved audio on June 10, 2017.

Victor 45347 – Will Rogers – 1923

Will Rogers was America’s most complete human document. He reflected in many ways the heartbeat of America.

Damon Runyon

The great American humorist Will Rogers.

The great American humorist Will Rogers, circa 1935.

On this day, August 15, eighty years ago, the great American humorist, movie star, vaudevillian, and cowboy, Will Rogers met his tragic fate with the famed aviator Wiley Post near Point Barrow in Alaska while surveying a route from North America to Russia in Post’s cobbled together airplane, with Will intending to pick up some new material for his newspaper column along the way.  The flight went well until an engine failure caused the plane to take a nosedive and crash into a lagoon.

In his life, Will Rogers, born November 4, 1879 in Oologah, Indian Territory, was one of the biggest and brightest stars of the Roaring Twenties.  He became a cowboy in his early life, and later turned to vaudeville, starring in Ziegfeld’s Follies, with his trick roping a major attraction.  By the end of the 1910s, Rogers had become a Hollywood movie star, and would appear in seventy-one pictures from 1918 to 1935.  What Will Rogers is probably best remembered for however, is his wit, which he expressed in his newspaper column from 1922 to 1935.  Befriending another of the greatest stars of the day, Charles Lindbergh, Rogers took an interest in aviation, which would be his downfall in 1935.  Will Rogers in his day became something of a folk hero, representing classical American values, and an innocence of bygone days, and his death sparked nationwide tributes.

On Victor 45347, recorded February 6, 1923 in New York City, Will Rogers gives us “A New Slant on War” and “Timely Topics”.  The record was released in March of 1923 and remained in the Victor catalog until 1927, it was later reissued as Victor 25126 on August 25, 1935, ten days after Will’s untimely demise.

With the Great War still fresh on the nation’s mind, in “A New Slant on War”, Will gives us, as the title would indicate, some humorous thoughts on war, why we have them, and how we can prevent them in the future.

A New Slant on War, recorded February 6, 1923 by Will Rogers.

A New Slant on War, recorded February 6, 1923 by Will Rogers.

While “Timely Topics” may not be so timely anymore, this side is still brimming with gems of Rogers’ timeless witticisms.

Timely Topics, recorded February 6, 1923 by Will Rogers.

Timely Topics, recorded February 6, 1923 by Will Rogers.

Spotlight: Chick Bullock

From early 1930s "Perfect" record sleeve. An illustration of the only known photograph of Bullock in his prime.

An illustration of Bullock in his prime, from 1930s “Perfect” record sleeve.

One of the most prolific male vocalists of the 1930s, was Charles “Chick” Bullock. With his relaxed style and smooth tenor voice, Bullock recorded innumerable titles with groups ranging from sweet dance orchestras like Waring’s Pennsylvanians and Ed Kirkeby to hot jazz bands like Cab Calloway’s orchestra and the Mills Blue Rhythm Band, even Don Azpiazu’s Havana Casino Orchestra as “Chiquito Bullo”, as well as his own group, the Levee Loungers.  Over the course of his career, Bullock worked with many, if not most, top musicians of the 1930s, recording hundreds of sides.  In fact, if you pulled out any record from the ARC labels (Banner, Perfect, Romeo, et al), there’s a good chance you’ll see “vocal chorus by Chick Bullock”.

Charles Sibley Bullock was born September 16, 1898 in Butte, Montana to British parents William (b.1858) and Emily Bullock (née Sibley) (b.1872), an engineer and teacher, respectively, who met and married after emigrating to the States.  Though his family wanted him to pursue a career as a doctor, he was destined for a life in the show business.  His first job in the entertainment industry had him working as an illustrated song performer between acts on the vaudeville stage.  Later, he worked his way from venue to venue into motion pictures, scoring a few small parts in silent films, but soon found he preferred singing, and left Hollywood to pursue a career in music.  In Salt Lake City, Bullock met Mary Newton, whom he would marry soon after.

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