Regal 9791 – Harry Richman – 1925

Harry Richman around the mid-1920s.

Harry Richman around the mid-1920s.

August 10 once again marks the birthday of one of Old Time Blues’ favorite vaudevillians, Harry Richman.  Last year, we celebrated the occasion with his famous “Puttin’ on the Ritz”.  This time, I offer to you Richman’s first recording ever.

Harry Richman was born Harold Reichman on August 10, 1895 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  He began performing by the age of eleven, and was working the vaudeville circuits by eighteen.  After striking out as an act of his own in the early 1920s, he worked his way up, appearing as the star of George White’s Scandals in 1926.  In 1930, he made his motion picture debut in Puttin’ on the Ritz, in which he introduced the famous Irving Berlin song of the same name.  Though his acting career failed to take off, he appeared in four more pictures from 1930 to ’38.  Throughout the 1930s, Richman hosted a radio program, and made a number of popular records.   He was also noted as a record setting aviator, making a famous round-trip flight across the Atlantic in 1936 with Dick Merrill.  In 1938, he married former Ziegfeld girl Hazel Forbes, though they had divorced by 1942.  After his career slowed down in the 1940s, Richman made a number of brief comeback appearances, largely in a nostalgic context.  He published an autobiography titled A Hell of a Life in 1966, and died in 1972.

Regal 9791 was recorded January 30, 1925, most likely in New York.  Unfortunately, though it appears to be in decent condition, it suffers from a very thin, quiet signal, and sounds generally lousy.  In spite of that, the music is still plainly audible.

First, Harry croons “Will You Remember Me”, with guitar accompaniment adding a charming, folksy effect.

Will You Remember Me

Will You Remember Me, recorded January 30, 1925 by Harry Richman.

Richman seems to put on his best Jolson for “California Poppy”.

California Poppy

California Poppy, recorded January 30, 1925 by Harry Richman.

Updated with improved audio on November 13, 2016.

Regal G 8161 – William Thomas – 1924

I can’t imagine any better way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day here at Old Time Blues than with authentic traditional Irish songs, recorded in Britain, and pressed on a Regal by the Columbia Graphophone Company in the United Kingdom.  These two classically Irish songs are sung by “William Thomas” which as I understand it was a pseudonym for the classical tenor Thomas Jackson.

Regal G 8161 was recorded in June of 1924 probably in London, by William Thomas, a pseudonym for tenor Thomas Jackson.  I can’t find any information on the singer, but he appears to have been quite prolific in Great Britain in the 1910s and 1920s.

First, the classic ballad set by Frederic Weatherby to the tune of Londonderry Air, now an unofficial anthem of the Irish people, “Danny Boy”.

Danny Boy

Danny Boy, recorded June 1924 by William Thomas.

Next, another Irish tune, Thomas Moore’s patriotic “The Minstrel Boy”, written in remembrance of some his friends lost in the Irish Rebellion of 1898.

The Minstrel Boy

The Minstrel Boy, recorded June 1924 by William Thomas.