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George Formby

Musical comedian George Formby was among Britain's most popular stars during the first half of the 20th century, with a legacy encompassing over 200 records and more than 20 hit films. Born George Hoy Booth on May 26, 1904 in Lancashire, England, he was the son of George Formby, Sr., himself a popular Edwardian music hall comedian. The younger Formby first worked as an apprentice jockey, but his father's sudden death in 1921 prompted him to pursue his own career as a performer; he initially worked under his given name, but later adopted his father's nom-de-stage following his marriage to dancer Beryl Ingham, who soon took over the reins of her husband's career. Initially, Formby attempted to approximate his father's act, but with little success; the chance acquisition of a banjo ukulele proved the key to establishing his own stage persona, and in light of audiences' enthusiastic reactions to his idiosyncratic, self-taught playing style, the instrument was never again far from his side.

With his toothy grin and goofy personality, Formby was dubbed "the beloved imbecile" by pundits; after earning a loyal following among music hall denizens, he scored a major pop hit with 1932's "Chinese Blues," which when renamed "Chinese Laundry Blues" became his signature song for the duration of his career. Two years later, Formby made his first film, Boots! Boots!; the picture was a smash, and he swiftly contracted to make 11 more films for Ealing Studios. Over the course of movies like 1935's No Limit, 1937's Feather Your Nest and 1938's It's in the Air, he became Britain's biggest star, earning an estimated £100,000 a year; his films also continued to provide him with a wealth of saucy hit records, including "The Window Cleaner," "Fanlight Fanny," "Riding in the T.T. Races" and the Noel Gay-penned "Leaning on a Lamp Post," perhaps his most popular song.

With the outbreak of World War II, Formby toured extensively, entertaining troops throughout Europe and the Middle East -- he was even among the first performers to appear in Normandy in the aftermath of its invasion, and in 1946 was awarded the OBE for his efforts. In 1951, Formby starred in the musical Zip Goes a Million, staged at the Palace Theater in London's West End; the production's success was unprecedented, but after suffering a major heart attack, Formby was forced to drop out of his role after just six months. After spending a year in recovery, he returned to the club circuit, but illness continued to plague him throughout the decade. In 1960, he cut "Happy Go Lucky Me," his first record in 15 years; on Christmas Eve of that same year his wife died, and just two months later he courted controversy by announcing his engagement to a schoolteacher over two decades his junior. Tragically, Formby himself passed away on March 6, 1961 at the age of 56. ~ Jason Ankeny
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Leaning On A Lamp Post

Disc 1

1. Leaning On A Lamp Post

2. Chinese Laundry Blues

3. Why Don't Women Like Me?

4. Sitting On The Ice In The Ice Rink

5. With My Little Ukulele In My Hand

6. Swimmin' With The Wimmin

7. It's No Use Looking At Me

8. Fanlight Fanny

9. We All Share And Share Alike

10. Pleasure Cruise

11. The Isle Of Man

12. Riding In The Tt Races

13. When I'm Cleaning Windows

14. Oh Dear, Mother

15. With My Little Stick Of Blackpool Rock

16. Hindoo Man

17. The Lancashire Toreador

18. My Plus Fours

19. Easy-Going Chap

20. I Don't Like

21. Hi-Tiddly-Hi-Ti Island

22. You Can't Stop Me From Dreaming

23. Like The Big Pots Do

24. I Blew A Little Blast On My Whistle

25. Springtime's Here Again

26. Noughts And Crosses

Disc 2
x

Track List: The Ultimate Collection

Disc 1

1. Leaning On A Lampost

2. Hi Tiddly Hi Ti Island

3. Happy Go Lucky Me

4. Banjo Boy

5. It's No Use Looking At Me

6. Little Stick Of Blackpool Rock

7. Our Fanny's Gone All Yankee

8. Bell Bottom George

9. On The Beat

10. I Wish I Was Back On The Farm

11. I Blew A Little Blast On My Whistle

12. Andy The Handy Man

13. The Ghost

14. The Lancashire Toreador

15. Oh Dear Mother

16. Mr Wu's A Window Cleaner Now

17. Delivering The Morning Milk

18. Oh Don't The Wind Blow Cold

19. The Left Hand Side Of Egypt

20. Chinese Laundry Blues

Disc 2

1. When I'm Cleaning Windows

2. The Pleasure Cruise

3. Levi's Monkey Mike

4. You're Everything To Me

5. Isle Of Man

7. I'm Making Headway Now

8. I Couldn't Let The Stable Down

9. I Wonder Who's Under Her Balcony Now?

10. Fanlight Fanny

11. Hindoo Man

13. Sitting On The Ice In The Ice Rink

15. Noughts And Crosses

16. Share And Share Alike

17. Grandad's Flannelette Nightshirt

18. Baby

19. We've Been A Long Time Gone

20. It's Turned Out Nice Again

Comments

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Thank you ! How did you know I was going to ask for George ?
Report as inappropriate
Love this guys music. I want a tenor. Banjo. I had one that I sold now I wish I had it.
Report as inappropriate
fzin9
george formby is awesome. A favorite of george harrison, and a favorite of mine. Awesome, just awesome.
Report as inappropriate
A wonderful entertainer
Report as inappropriate
Looking for ukulele artists like this.
Report as inappropriate
Fun. But what about Carroll Gibbons? Gene Austin?

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