Search This Blog

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sir Harry Lauder......The one and only...The Laird of the music hall

Sir Harry Lauder

Sir Henry Lauder (4 August 1870 – 26 February 1950), known professionally as Harry Lauder, was an international Scottish entertainer, described by Sir Winston Churchill as "Scotland's greatest ever ambassador!"
Henry Lauder was born at Portobello, Edinburgh, in the home of his maternal grandfather, Henry McLennan. His father was John Currie Lauder, descended from the Lauders of the Bass, and his mother was Isabella Urquhart MacLeod McLennan, born in Arbroath to a family from the Black Isle. At the time, his father was also living in Portobello.

John Lauder moved to Newbold, Derbyshire, in 1882 to take up a job designing china. After only a short time in residence there, he died of pneumonia, and his widow Isabella moved to her brother's home in Arbroath with her five sons and two daughters. She was determined to continue Harry's education (it being then customary for children to find employment at the age of 11 or 12), and he worked part-time at the local flax mill until he was 16 in order to qualify to attend the school there. The family moved to Isabella`s brother in Lanarkshire and Lauder worked in the coal mines around Hamilton.

On 19 June, 1891, Harry married Ann Vallance, the daughter of a colliery manager at Hamilton, Lanarkshire, attended by his brother Matthew as best man. A year later, Harry served as best man at Matthew's wedding to Ann's sister, Catherine.

Singing helped Lauder through the arduous work of a miner and he was encouraged by his fellow workers to sing in halls. His first professional engagement was in nearby Larkhall where he got a five shilling fee for the night. After more evenings around Hamilton he went to the weekly go-as-you please night held by Mrs Christina Baylis at her Scotia Music Hall/Metropole Theatre in Glasgow who told him to gain experience by touring halls around the country with a concert party, which he did and then turned full time professional.

Lauder provided comedy and songs of Scotland and Ireland. In 1905 his success in leading the Howard & Wyndham pantomime at the Theatre Royal Glasgow, for which he wrote I Love A Lassie, made him a national British star, and obtained contracts with Sir Edward Moss and others. By 1911 he could command a $1,000 a night on his USA tours.In 1912 he was top of the bill at Britain`s first ever Royal Command Variety performance, in front of King George V, organised by Alfred Butt. He was Britain`s best known entertainer.
He toured the world extensively during his forty-year career, including 22 trips to the United States, for which he had his own train, the Harry Lauder Special, and several to Australia, to which his brother John had emigrated. He was, at one time, the highest-paid performer in the world, making the equivalent of £12,700 a night plus expenses, and was the first British artiste to sell a million records. Lauder's appeal was to all, from workers to merchants, royalty and presidents.

His understanding of life, its pathos and joys, endeared him to all. Gigli and others commended his singing voice and clarity. Lauder usually performed in Highland regalia (Kilt, Sporran, Tam o'shanter and twisted walking stick) and singing songs with a Scottish theme (Roamin' in the Gloamin' etc.).

When World War I broke out, Lauder was in Melbourne on one of his Australian tours. During the war, he led successful fundraising efforts for war charities, organised a tour of music halls in 1915 for recruitment purposes, and entertained the troops under enemy fire in France. By his efforts in organising concerts and appeals he raised £1,000,000 to help servicemen return to health and civilian life, for which we was knighted in 1919.

He suffered personal tragedy during the war, when his only son, John (1891–1916), a captain in the 8th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, was killed in action on 28 December 1916 at Poiziers. Harry wrote the song "Keep Right on to the End of the Road" in the wake of John's death and had a monument built for his son, who was buried in France, in the little Lauder cemetery in Glenbranter.

Winston Churchill stated that Lauder, " his inspiring songs and valiant life, rendered measureless service to the Scottish race and to the British Empire."

Sir Harry wrote most of his own songs, favourites of which were "Roamin' in the Gloamin", "I Love a Lassie", "A Wee Deoch-an-Doris", and "Keep Right on to the End of the Road", which is used by Birmingham City Football Club as their club anthem.

He starred in three British films: Huntingtower (1927), Auld Lang Syne (1929) and The End of the Road (1936). He also appeared in a test film for the Photokinema sound-on-disc process in 1921. This film is part of the UCLA Film and Television Archive collection, however, the disc is missing.

He also wrote a number of books which ran into several editions, including Harry Lauder at Home and on Tour (1912), A Minstrel in France (1918), Between You and Me (1919), Roamin’ in the Gloamin’ (1928 autobiography), My Best Scotch Stories (1929), Wee Drappies (1931) and Ticklin’ Talks (circa 1932).

Sir Harry's wife died on 31 July 1927 and was buried next to her son's memorial at Glenbranter, Argyll. His niece, Margaret (Greta) Lauder, M.B.E., (1900–1966), moved in with him at his home, Laudervale (outside Dunoon), and became his constant companion in later years.

Sir Harry's final retirement was announced in 1935. However, he again entertained troops throughout Britain during World War II, despite his age, and made wireless broadcasts with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. He also appeared immediately after the war to thank the crews of American food relief ships docking at Glasgow. His last years were spent in his home of Lauder Ha' at Strathaven, where he died in February 1950, aged 79.

As might be expected, his funeral was widely reported. One of the chief mourners was Douglas Douglas-Hamilton, 14th Duke of Hamilton, who led the funeral procession and read the lesson. Sir Harry was interred with his mother and brother George at Bent Cemetery, Hamilton. 'Glenbranter' had been sold by him to the Forestry Commission, there being no son to succeed him.

The family held on to Lauder Ha' until the late 1960s, when they sold it to cover death duties.
Websites carry much of his material and the Harry Lauder Collection amassed by entertainer Jimmy Logan was bought for the nation and donated to the University of Glasgow.

When the A199 Portobello bypass was opened, it was named the "Sir Harry Lauder Road".

On 28 July 1987, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, The Rt. Hon. John McKay, CBE, hosted a luncheon at the Edinburgh City Chambers, to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the granting of the Freedom of the City to Sir Harry Lauder, attended by family representative Gregory Lauder-Frost, who, on 4 August 2001, formally opened the new Sir Harry Lauder Memorial Garden at Portobello Town Hall, and was the principal commentator throughout the Saltire/BBC2 TV (Scotland) documentary entitled Something About Harry screened on 30 November 2005. On 29 September 2007, Lauder-Frost as guest-of-honour rededicated for another century the Burslem Golf Course & Club at Stoke-on-Trent, which had been formally opened on the same day in 1907 by Harry Lauder.

In the 1990s, samples of recordings of Lauder were used on two tracks recorded by the Scottish folk/dance music artist Martyn Bennett.

An ornamental cultivar of Common Hazel (Corylus avellana) has become known as Harry Lauder's Walking Stick or Corkscrew Hazel. It was noticed growing as part of a hedge in the 1800s and is now propagated by grafting. It gains this name from the fact Lauder regularly appeared with a crooked walking stick.

The song "Dearie" includes a reference to Harry Lauder.

A Wee Deoch An' Doris
Aye Waken O
Back, Back To Where The Heather Grows (Belle McGraw)
Blarney Stone
Bonnie Leezie Lindsay
Bounding Bounder, Or On The Bounding Sea
Breakfast In Bed
Dixie girls are good enough for me
Don't let us sing any more of war
Foo' the Noo (I've Something in the Bottle)
Foo' the noo 2
From the North, South, East and West
Goodbye till we meet again
Granny's Laddie (One of the Boys Who Went).
Harry Lauder Medley (part 2)
Hey, Donal!
I Love a Lassie (My Scotch Bluebell)
I love a lassie 2
I wish I had someone to love me
I've just got off the Chain
I've loved her ever since she was a baby
In The Ro-ta-ry
It's nice when you love a wee lassie
Jean McNeil
Just like bein' at hame
Keep Right On To The End Of The Road
Loch Lomond
Love Makes The World A Merry Go Round
McGregor's Toast
Mr. John Mackie
My Bonny Bonny Jean
Queen among the heather
Rising Early in the Morning
Roamin' In The Gloamin'
Rob Roy Mackintosh
Same As His Father Did Before Him
Scotch Memories Medley
She is ma Daisy
She's the lass for me
Soosie Maclean
Stop your ticklin' Jock
Tattie Soup
That's the reason noo I wear a kilt.
The Blarney stone
The bounding sea
The kilty lads
The laddies that fought and won
The lass o' Killicrankie
The Picnic
The Referee
The Saftest o' the family
The Scotch errand boy
The Weddin' o' Lauchie M'Graw
The wedding o' Sandy MacNab
There's A Wee Hoose 'Mang The heather
Waggle O' The Kilt.
We Parted on the Shore
When I get back again to bonnie Scotland
When I Was Twenty-one

The famed Bing "Harry Lauder Bus" toy, ca. 1911. A cool $10,000-12, 000 in your pocket if you've one of these in your attic..... :)

No comments:

Post a Comment