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Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Web Page No 852

I have recently receive some great pictures of Cosham from Peter Barlow, they mainly cover demolition. Here are the first two. Goodbye to the East Cosham Tavern.

The Mouth Organ

One of the strange phenomemums of the 1950’s & 60’s was the popularity of the harmonica. Almost every cowboy in the 1950’s seemed to played one (it was easier to carry than a guitar), and here in England several exponents of the art came to the fore especially the Morton Fraser Harmonica Gang but none was as well known as the American who came to live in London, Larry Adler.
Lawrence ‘Larry’ Cecil Adler was born to a Jewish family in Baltimore USA on 14th February 1914. By the time he had started High School he had taught himself to play the harmonica (which he always preferred to call a mouth-organ) and he began playing professionally at the age of 14. In 1927, the harmonica was so popular an instrument that the local Baltimore paper sponsored a contest and Larry’s rendition of a Beethoven Minuet won him first prize. Spurred on by this and his success in performing a year later, he ran away from home to New York. After meeting and being referred by Rudy Vallee he got his first theatre work, and caught the attention of the orchestra leader who placed him in a vaudeville act as "a ragged urchin, playing for pennies". From there, he was hired by Florenz Ziegfield and then by Lew Leslie (again to appear as an urchin). He seemed to be saddled with the image of a waif and stray on stage but he finally managed to break the typecasting and appeared in a dinner jacket in the 1934 Paramount film Many Happy Returns. It was because of this performance that he was hired by British theatrical producer C.B Cochran to perform in a London revue. It was here in the UK and throughout the British Empire, that he found stardom where due to his influence, harmonica sales increased twenty-fold. (we all had one a children didn’t we?)
Larry Adler was one of the first harmonica players to perform major works written for the mouth organ, often being written expressly for him: he also performed transcriptions of pieces written for other instruments by some of the worlds best composers including Bach and Vivaldi.
During the 1940s, he and the American virtuoso dancer, Paul Draper got together and formed a very popular act, touring nationally and internationally. However Larry was forced to leave the United States by false accusations of communist sympathies during the McCarthy witch hunt era and these accusations made it impossible for him to find work in the US so he moved to the UK in 1949, and settled in London, where he remained for the remainder of his life. The accusations, although totally without foundation, led to a general sentiment of disregard towards him in the USA during the 1950s and early 1960s which took a long time to heal.
The 1953 film British comedy Genevieve (this is where most of us first heard his music) brought him an Oscar nomination for his work though his name was originally kept off the credits in the United States it was thought that his name would harm the popularity of the film.
Larry Adler continued to work regularly all through the 1950’s, 60’s and on into the 80’s In 1994 for his 80th birthday Larry Adler, produced an album of Gershwin music including his most enduring piece, Rhapsody in Blue. In fact Pam remembers her and I sitting in our front room at home listening to this when she and I were courting in 1966.
His last recording was a duet of Young at Heart with Cerys Matthews from the Welsh pop band Catatonia. They recorded a version of Tony Bennett's The Autumn Leaves together . She joked at the time that she preferred older men.
He died peacefully, he had been fighting cancer for some time, in hospital in London at the age of 87, on August 7, 2001. He was still keen to perform and had been discussing a forthcoming tour of China only three weeks before. He was an atheist and his body was cremated with no ceremony at the Golders Green Crematorium where his ashes remain.
He had four children, two grandchildren and two great grandchildren, one of whom was Peter Adler who fronted a band called The Action in Dublin, Ireland in the late 1960s.
At the beginning of this article I mention the Morton Fraser Harmonica Gang; this was an act that was very popular in the 1940’s and 50’s and was the starting ground for at least one performer. Dave King being one, he had had a variety of jobs before becoming a stooge and washboard player in Morton Fraser's Harmonica Gang from where he went on to develop his own act. I remember meeting him when the Showbiz Eleven played a Hospital team in a Charity match in the mid 1970’s and I and my staff had to prepare a buffet for the players.
PS: I never did get the hang of playing the harmonica!!!
Keep in touch


You Write:

Griff Writes:-

Looking at Pete's photograph of a 1950's front room I can see 2 things missing from my lounge and that was the television and the phone. OK most people had a TV by 1960 but a phone? ... sheer luxury I reckon to have a phone.

Peter has put up the photo's of the Program of the "One Act Plays" which were held at Court Lane in 1958 and I think I am right in saying this was in our 1st year at Court Lane? Now I should know the answer to this really as I was actually in the play "Noah" and secondly I played the Elephant. Poor Anida had to play the Cow how she must long to forget this

The wonderful Bill Greer was the after-school drama teacher in charge of production of School Plays at Court Lane and he sought to make Thespians of us all at some time or other and I had appeared in another previous production by Bill a few months earlier but I can't remember what the play was called now and no program to refer back to either. The School did have some very good "actors" amongst the senior pupils as I recall and one I can mention was Beverly Hatch who appeared in one or two stage productions at Court Lane.
This particular play "Noah" was put up before the judges at the Portsmouth Schools Drama competition in the following February where we performed it, I think, at Paulsgrove School but I believe we only came third in the competition.
I can only recall ever one drama type play at Manor Court and that was Gilbert & Sullivan's "Trial by Jury" with Alan Cox taking the lead as the judge and from what I remember he was so very good at playing that part especially as it was a singing part. I didn't take part in this production but I was helping out with the stage production team behind the scenes. I wonder if anyone has a program on that play at all?

News and Views:

CAN YOU HELP? BBC Bristol are working on the early stages of a new series titled 'Rewind: The 1960's'. Each programme will be looking at one of the key issues from the decade, everything from Liberalisation, Civil Rights, Modernity, Consumerism, Youth and Music, War etc. They are looking for really personal stories from everyday people who lived and loved (or hated!) the Sixties and want to hear from people on a number of topics. One of the stories that they are going to be looking at is 'Swinging London', for example Ally Pally, the music, the fashion, Carnaby St,... they want to know if London really was as 'swinging' as it was claimed to be and was it relevant to the rest of the country? They are also looking for people who went on package holidays in the 1960's. Was this the first time they had been abroad? What was it like? Do they have any film or photos from this holiday? If you can help or want to be part of this programme, please e-mail Claire

On this day 9th July 1960-1965.

On 09/07/1960 the number one single was Good Timin' - Jimmy Jones and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Rawhide (ITV) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Burnley were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 09/07/1961 the number one single was Runaway - Del Shannon and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Labour Party Political Broadcast (all channels) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 09/07/1962 the number one single was Come Outside - Mike Sarne with Wendy Richard and the number one album was West Side Story Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 09/07/1963 the number one single was I Like It - Gerry & the Pacemakers and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 09/07/1964 the number one single was House of the Rising Sun - Animals and the number one album was Rolling Stones - The Rolling Stones. The top rated TV show was Room at the Top (ITV) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 09/07/1965 the number one single was I'm Alive - Hollies and the number one album was The Sound of Music Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

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