George Formby (1904-1961)
was a comedian famous for the many songs that he performed
with his ukulele-banjo. These songs were supplied by various writers, but typically adhered to a
formula that combined topical humour, double entendre, and catchy tunes, with a general spirit of
cheerfulness in keeping with the friendly, Lancashire 'lad-next-door' character that Formby played.
George Formby snr. George Formby jnr.
Born in Wigan, Lancashire on 26 May, 1904,
George was the eldest child of Eliza Ann Hoy and
James Booth, who was a music hall comedian using the stage name George Formby.
The young George forwent his school
education, being sent by his father to train as a jockey, but
when George snr. died in 1921 at the age of 45, George jnr. took to the stage, performing a poor
imitation of his father's act. However, his fortunes began to change in 1924 when he married Beryl
Ingham, and they improved further in 1925 when he introduced the ukulele into his act. He made his
first recordings with the instrument in 1929 by which time he had begun to develop his own individual
style of playing. George adopted the ukulele's more powerful counterpart, the ukulele-banjo, and the
instrumental solos in his songs became famously popular. Between 1934 and 1946 he starred in twenty-
one films, being the biggest British box-office draw for six consecutive years (from 1938 to 1943).
Throughout World War II, George, with Beryl
constantly at his side, toured France, Italy, India, North
Africa and the Middle East with the Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA), sometimes
giving as many as eight performances a day. He also entertained factory workers around Britain. For
these morale-boosting tours and his war effort he was awarded the OBE in 1946, by which time,
incidentally, he had recorded over 200 songs.
In the post-war years, the Formbys toured
Australia and New Zealand, Scandinavia and Canada, and
in 1951 George took the West End by storm as the star of a new musical Zip Goes A Million at the
Palace Theatre. Beryl died on Christmas Day 1960 and George died on 6 March, 1961, leaving comic
and musical legacies that are still enjoyed by his fans today.
|A superb biography of George Formby
is now available...
It's Turned Out Nice Again! tells the story of Formby's life in greater detail than any other book, and features newly discovered photographs and information - a must-have for any Formby enthusiast...
Click the image for more information!
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