Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Recording Edison Cylinders and Diamond Discs ---- Just Take Those Old Records off the Shelf, Part 1

For many years I've collected phonographs built by Thomas Edison's National Phonograph Company.  It was an interest that began when I was in high school and continues more or less today.  It's funny when you're a collector how the passion for the project ebbs and flows.  Realizing that I've had several of these "reproducing machines" and cylinder records for close to 30 years now--which puts many of them over or approaching 100 years old--I thought I'd try to preserve some of the recordings I've enjoyed for many years and share them with anyone who stumbles across my posts. 

This will be a series of videos or recordings that I will post either on YouTube or on SoundCloud.  I think it's important to preserve these earliest sound recordings for future generations.  Other people are doing the same thing and I hope to add to their efforts with these few recordings.  d

In each post I'll describe the phonograph used and try to tell as much about the artist and recording as I can find.

"That Old Gang of Mine" Billy Jones and Ernest Hare, 1923, Edison Diamond Disc Recording.

Played on an Edison Diamond Disc Cabinet Phonograph, Model BC-34, 1923

The following biographical sketch retrieved from http://turtleservices.com/happiness.htm

BILLY JONES (born 3-15-89, died 11-23-40) and ERNEST HARE (born 3-16-83, died 3-9-39) met in 1919 and formed a team at the suggestion of Brunswick recording executive, Gus Haenschen. They recorded for Brunswick and many other companies as Jones and Hare, The Happiness Boys. Jones is the tenor; Hare, the bass/baritone.
When they performed on a network radio show for Interwoven Socks, they called themselves The Interwoven Pair. They also made theater and club appearances. They reached the height of their popularity in 1929-30. They also recorded as Billy West & Bob Thomas, Thomas & West, Henry Jones & Billy West, Harry Blake & Robert Judson, Blake & Judson, Lester George & Walter Lange, and Scott & Lewis.

They became known as The Happiness Boys, because as radio entertainers they were sponsored, beginning in August 1923 on Manhattan New York station WEAF, by the Happiness Candy Stores. By 1924 they adopted "How Do You Do?" as their radio theme song. In 1928, Jones and Hare became the highest paid singers in radio, $1,250 a week.

William Reese Jones, a tenor, tried his hand at banking, mining, blacksmithing, and other occupations. He made his recording debut in 1918. He used several names: Billy Jones,Harry Blake, Billy Clarke, Lester George, Duncan Jones, Reese Jones, John Kelley, Dennis O'Malley, William Rees, Victor Roberts, Billy West, William West, and Carlton Williams. He recorded with Cleartone Four (Harmonizers Quartet), Crescent Trio, Harmonizers Quartet. Premier Quartet (replacing Billy Murray in late Premier groups for Edison recordings).

Thomas Ernest Hare, a bass/baritone, began his recording career in 1918. During 1919 and 1920 he was Al Jolson's understudy during a run of "Sinbad." Hare's Jolson style can be heard on Grey Gull 1166-B "Knock Wood and Whistle." As Hare recorded with partners such as Al Bernard and Billy Jones, he continue to work as a solo artist using names such as Bob Thomas, Wallace Daniels, Arthur Grant, Henry Jones, Robert Judson, Walter Lang, Walter Leslie, Roy Roberts, Bob Thompson, "Hobo" Jack Turner and Frank Mann. He recorded with Cleartone Four (Harmonizers Quartet), Crescent Trio, Harmonizers Quartet. Premier Quartet (replacing Billy Murray in late Premier groups for Edison recordings).