Sunday, July 4, 2010

Banjolele King: George Formby

I was putting together some music by Herman's Hermits not too long ago, and of course included Leaning on the Lampost, though it was considerably more popular in the U.S. than in Britain apparently. A good friend mentioned that George Formby had made that song popular earlier, or had at least sung it a lot, playing the ukulele, and I said, "Who's George Formby?"

After watching old stuff of him on YouTube, I told my friend with arrogant certainty that it was the banjo he played, not the ukulele. Further research proves us both right: it was a hybrid they called the "banjolele". A rather odd duck, this George Formby, though pretty talented in an old music hall sort of way. His father before him had been a VERY big music hall star, so I suppose it was no surprise. Americans call them "variety acts." George Formby video here.


  1. They both do seem to use the same hair cream. Brylcreem?

  2. "An annoying little man" he was once called. By whom? I can't remember. But I agree.

    He played on the image of a simple, even, perhaps, stupid working class idiot. Music halls, seaside shows, then the wonder of moving pictures, pablum for the masses, keep 'em working, keep em singing, keep em in their place.


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