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Max Bygraves

Singer/songwriter Max Bygraves was enormously popular in postwar England, releasing a steady stream of popular "singalong" records while being widely seen and heard on television, radio, and in the movies. His most famous catch phrase was "I wanna tell you a story!"; his own story is a real-life tale of rags to riches.

Walter William Bygraves was one of six children of Battling Tom Smith, a flyweight professional boxer and occasional dockworker, in a rough part of London. Bygraves showed his talent early, singing and doing impersonations for customers along his paper route and at parties, and was tapped for a solo performance at Westminster Abbey under the sponsorship of his music teacher. He joined the RAF at the start of the second World War, and on his first night in the barracks entertained his fellow troops with an impersonation of "The Cheeky Chappie," a 1930s music hall comedian named Max Miller. His fellow soldiers started calling him "Max," and the name stuck.

Bygraves married a WAAF sergeant in 1942, and continued to entertain his fellow soldiers, being asked to perform in larger and larger concerts. After the war, Max tried to find work as a carpenter, and was considering emigrating to Australia, when the BBC approached him about doing an ex-servicemen's show. In addition to Bygraves, They're Out featured such up-and-comers as Benny Hill, Harry Secombe, and Spike Milligan; the show's bandleader, Jack Payne, was impressed enough by him to invite him to join his orchestra. By 1951 Max had played the Palladium, been featured on some radio and television spots, and become friends with rising comic Eric Sykes. Sykes began writing for Bygraves, first in a radio script called Educating Archie, which was to be his breakthrough: Sykes played a ventriloquist dummy, and Max his comic foil; the show became a big hit, making Max a national celebrity.

His first album, entitled The Cowpuncher's Cantata, was released in 1952, to capitalize on his new fame. The title track mashed up four catchy hit songs -- "The Cry of the Wild Goose," "Riders in the Sky," "Mule Train," and "Jezebel" -- and promptly hit number one on the new Hit Parade charts. Max Bygraves had arrived as a superstar. He headlined the Palladium, starred in movies (most memorably the lead in Charlie Moon), famously bought a Rolls-Royce with the license plate "MB 1," supported Judy Garland in New York, and was awarded the Order of the British Empire. He rode the "Cowpuncher's Cantata" formula to enormous financial success, spinning out a series of popular hit records using continuous medleys of popular songs, even using the mash-up concept in his titles -- he released ten albums alone in the Singalongmax series, as well as multiple releases with such titles as Singalongpartysongs and Singalongmemories.

Bygraves retired to Australia in the 1990s, and published his autobiography, Max Bygraves in His Own Words, in 1997. He was coaxed out of retirement for a series of tours with the Beverly Sisters in 2002, then did a farewell set of performances in 2006. His recordings remain quite popular, and many titles and compilations are available on CD. Not bad for the poor son of an occasional dockworker! ~ Laurie Mercer
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: 1955 British Hit Parade: Britain's Greatest Hits Volume 4

Disc 1

1. Mr Sandman

2. Rock Around The Clock

3. Count Your Blessings

4. Happy Days And Lonely Nights

5. Give Me Your Word

6. Mr Sandman

7. Softly Softly

8. Happy Days & Lonely Nights

9. The Naughty Lady Of Shady Lane

10. Drink Drink Drink

11. Mambo Italiano

12. Happy Days And Lonely Nights

13. Let Me Go Lover

14. Beyond The Stars

15. The Naughty Lady Of Shady Lane

16. Mobile

17. Lonely Ballerina

19. Let Me Go Lover

20. Majorca

21. I'll Walk With God

22. A Blossom Fell

23. Let Me Go Lover

24. Somebody

25. Sincerely

Disc 2

1. Let Me Go Lover

2. A Blossom Fell

3. Tomorrow

4. In The Beginning

5. Wedding Bells

6. If Anyone Finds This I Love You

7. Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White

8. Prize Of Gold

9. Under The Bridges Of Paris

10. Stranger In Paradise

11. No More

12. Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White

13. Ready Willing And Able

15. Under The Bridges Of Paris

16. Stranger In Paradise

17. Mambo Rock

18. Earth Angel

19. Stranger In Paradise

20. Tweedle Dee

21. Serenade

22. Melody Of Love

23. Open Up Your Heart

25. Dreamboat

Disc 3

1. Tweedle Dee

2. Stranger In Paradise

3. Unchained Melody

4. Where Will The Dimple Be

5. Paths Of Paradise

6. Stranger In Paradise

7. Elephant's Tango

8. Mama

10. Stranger In Paradise

11. I Wonder

13. Crazy Otto Rag

14. You My Love

15. The Man That Got Away

16. I Wonder

17. Unchained Melody

18. Cool Water

19. Stowaway

20. Evermore

21. Everyday Of My Life

22. Don't Worry

23. Ev'rywhere

24. Rose Marie

25. Sincerely

x

Track List: LMAO - 36 Laugh Out Loud Vintage Comedy Classics

1. My Brother

2. Right Said Fred

3. The Ying Tong Song

4. Banana Boat Song (Day-O)

5. Don't Jump Off The Roof, Dad

6. Goodness Gracious Me

7. Donald Where's Yer Troosers

8. The Teddy Bear's Picnic

9. The Laughing Policeman

10. What A Mouth (What A North And South)

11. That Noise

12. My Old Man's A Dustman

13. Messing About On The River

14. My Boomerang Won't Come Back

15. The Marrow Song (Oh! What A Beauty)

16. The Mole In The Hole

17. The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine

18. Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport

19. Putting On The Style

20. Al 'N Yetta

21. Mary From The Dairy

22. Tele Vee Shun

24. Gossip Calypso

25. When You Come To The End Of A Lollipop

26. Bangers And Mash

27. Gather In The Mushrooms

28. Rum Tee Diddle Dee Yump

29. When I'm Cleaning Windows

30. I've Got A Lovely Bunch Of Coconuts

31. She Said She Wouldn't

32. You're A Pink Toothbrush

33. The Hole In The Ground

35. Another Fine Mess

36. Old Ned (Theme From "Steptoe And Son")

x

Track List: The Singing Comedians

1. Meet Me On The Corner

2. Memories Are Made Of This

3. Don't Laugh At Me ('Cause I'm A Fool)

4. The Ying Tong Song

5. Rock Island Line

6. Three Little Fishes

7. Mary From The Dairy

8. The Money Song

9. Ballin' The Jack

10. Yorkshire Pudden

11. Me And My Tune

12. When I'm Cleaning Windows

13. Inka Dinka Doo

14. I Went To Your Wedding

15. Narcissus

16. Mister Sandman

17. You Can't Be True To Two

x

Track List: World Of Max Bygraves

1. Tulips From Amsterdam

2. You Need Hands

3. Consider Yourself

4. Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'be

5. Heart

6. You're A Pink Tooth-Brush

7. Gilly Gilly Ossenfeffer Katzenellenbogen-By-The-Sea

8. Little Train

9. (I Love To Play) My Ukelele

10. Gotta Have Rain (From A Cry From The Streets)

11. Cabaret

12. Mame

13. Any Dream Will Do

14. Deck Of Cards

15. Medley: Around The World

16. Medley: South Of The Border

17. Medley: Arrivederci Roma

18. Medley: Volare

19. Medley: Wonderful World

Comments

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elmarieswane r
Wow
Report as inappropriate
cg2263
My dad remebers him.
Report as inappropriate
LISTENED TO HIM GROWING UP

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