Florrie Forde
Florrie Forde was the queen of the 'everybody sing along' type of music-hall act. She was born in Australia in 1876, appearing for the first time in London in 1897. Her most famous songs were 'Down At The Old Bull And Bush', 'Hold Your Hand Out, Naughty Boy', and the First World War favourites 'Goodbye-ee' (based on Harry Tate's catchphrase), 'Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit bag' and 'It's A Long Way To Tipperary'. (Incidentally, the capitalization of all the initial letters in the song titles is in accordance with music hall tradition.)

Florrie FordeShe had tremendous stage presence. About thirty years ago I was at a show of music hall films at London's National Film Theatre: one of the clips was a sequence of songs by Florrie Forde. She not only got the audience singing along, but also stopped them easily when she wanted to change numbers - not bad for someone on film who had been dead for forty years (she died in 1940).

I've chosen her recording of what is perhaps, with hindsight, the most successful song of the Edwardian era - 'I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside' - everyone still knows the tune, even though few nowadays have ever heard the verses. It was originally sung by Mark Sheridan (1876-1918) (picture, below right): he was much more of a comic performer, complete with eccentric dress, than Forde.

Mark SheridanSo here is Florrie Forde: and do sing along with the chorus!

I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside (Zonophone 223) rec. London, 29 November 1909.

If you would like to download this recording you can do so from this page.

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