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Cliff Edwards

'Ukulele Ike'

CLIFTON A. EDWARDS was born in Hannibal, Missouri on 14 June 1895. With a fine singing voice and stylish manner of presentation, he began performing at an early age, in and around the area of St Louis. Edwards learnt to accompany himself on the ukulele, and developed his own vocal technique called eefin' in imitation of a kazoo! (No doubt he found it more effective to incorporate a chorus of this style into his song arrangements than to play an instrumental solo on the soft-toned ukulele, in the noisy venues where he learnt his trade).

The unique vocal style and slick uke accompaniment became his trademarks, and Edwards became known in the 1920s not only as a star of Vaudeville and a prolific recording artist, but as a screen singer and actor, appearing in around 130 movies!

Often known as 'Ukulele Ike', Edwards famously introduced great songs such as Fascinating Rhythm and Singin' in the Rain to the world, and his record sales are reported to run into the region of a staggering 70 million or more.

His greatest success, however, was as the voice of Jiminy Cricket in Walt Disney's animated classic Pinocchio (1940). Edwards' recording of When You Wish Upon a Star in this role is known to this day throughout the English-speaking world, and although his name is now largely forgotten, his voice - quite deservedly - will live on for many years to come.

Ukulele Ike died in July 1971.

- Andy Eastwood,

on the 30th anniversary of Edwards' death,

July 2001

Recommended recordings


That's my Weakness Now (1928)

A delightful jazz period piece, with Edwards in his very finest form. (His superb uke & vocal artistry are complemented by a sax obbligato that will leave you breathless!)

I'll See You in my Dreams (1930)

A beautiful rendition of a classic song, demonstrating Edwards' sensitivity with a ballad. On hearing this track one can understand how, thanks to the likes of Cliff Edwards, the ukulele became an indispensable element in the soundtrack of 1920s-30s life.

When You Wish Upon a Star (1940)

A legendary performance that will live forever.





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