Wednesday, April 13, 2011

George Van Dusen

George Van Dusen.

Born Albert Thomas Harrington 19th April 1905, in St. George in the East, London, the son of Albert and Augusta Harrington

His musical heritage was as the grandson of Alphons Eder a lifelong street musician in East London .

He was generally known as Tommy in the family, presumably to differentiate him from his father. He is not listed with family at Pennington Street, Stepney on the 1911 census, but it may well be that he was in hospital at the time, as it is known that he contracted polio as a child.

George had a long a successful career on the music hall stage generally appearing as “The Great Dutch Yodeller”. He adopted a quasi dutch clothing of smock, cap and baggy trousers, which was probably to disguise the surgical boot he wore as a result of the polio.

George Van Dusen's recordings were amongst the best sellers of the 1930s. He also appeared regularly on BBC radio variety programmes from as early as 1932. He wrote many of his own songs under the pen name Fred Farrell, as well as adapting older tunes, although he freely admitted that he could not read music, composing his numbers with the aid of a mouth organ.

During the 1980's George Van Dusen was "rediscovered" and his song “It's Party Time Again” was in the pop record charts, in December 1988, remixed with a disco beat. The story was that an old copy of one of his records was picked up by a record company producer from a second hand stall in Charing Cross Road, however this may well be just myth.
Another version is that the find was by the producer of the Terry Wogan radio programme and subsequently Terry plugged the song in his show.
He appeared on the Terry Wogan TV show later
George continued to appear on stage at charity concerts and the like until well into his 80's, even though by that time he was confined to a wheelchair.

His recordings included:

Mountain High
Holiday Time is Jollity Time
Murphy’s Wedding Day
The Warbling Yodeller
A wee drap o’ Scotch
The Yodelling Cowboy
The Yodelling chinaman
The Yodelling Accordeon Man
Yodelling Izzy
The Yodelling Huntsman
The Yodelling Farmer
Yodelling Banjo Player
It’s Holiday Time Again
The Yodelling Mouth Organ Player
Mountain Melodies
Knees Up Yodelling Song
Warbling and Yodelling
The Yodelling Sailor
The Yodelling Wanderer
Polosky’s Russian Party
Yodelling Tommy Atkins
The Yodelling Toreador
Come along Liza, Come along Bill
It’s Party Time again
Yodelling Working Man
Yodelling Sergeant Major
Smile Smile Smile
Yiddisher Yodeller

In 1937 he took an action in the High Court for infringement of copyright for his songs “Mountain refrain”, “Yodelling blacksmith”, “Yodelling Soloman” and an arrangement of “Silver threads among the Gold”. He was only successful in respect of the first song and was awarded five guineas damages.

He died in 1992 in Enfield, at the age of 87.

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