Sunday, 29 December 2013

George Elrick born 29 December 1903

George Elrick (December 29, 1903 - December 15, 1999), was a British musician, impresario and radio presenter, probably best known for presenting the popular record request show Housewives' Choice during the 1950s and 1960s.

In a long and varied showbusiness career, George Elrick was an early disc jockey, and from 1946-67 a presenter of Housewives' Choice, BBC radio's legendary morning record request programme. In many ways, he set the pattern for today's generation of chatty, middle-of-the-road DJs; he would introduce himself with the words "This is Mrs Elrick's wee son, Georgie," and pioneered a technique of humming to the programme's signature tune (In Party Mood). He would invent lyrics for this otherwise instrumental piece, and sign off with his customary "I'll be with you all again tomorrow morning."

In his earlier career as vocalist, Elrick was associated with such popular songs as A Nice Cup of Tea In The Morning and, particularly, When You're Smiling, which earned him the soubriquet "the smiling voice of radio", and in 1948 became the title of a touring variety show based on his fame as a BBC presenter.

One of 11 children, Elrick was born in Aberdeen. His early ambitions to become a doctor were not fulfilled and his first job was at a chemical factory. He played drums in a jazz trio in the evenings, turning professional after receiving encouragement at a Melody Maker contest. He and his band won an award in the All-Scottish Dance Band Championship and became resident at the Beach ballroom, Aberdeen.

In January 1931, Elrick arrived in London to work in club venues, prior to becoming one of the Three Rhythm Brothers with the Bert Ambrose band. It was at this time that he met his future wife, Alice, then a successful model. Elrick joined Henry Hall and the BBC Dance Orchestra in 1935 as drummer and vocalist and appeared on some of Hall's commercial recordings.

During one broadcast he was twice required to sing The Music Goes Round And Round in response to a telephone request from the Prince of Wales, who had several times asked to sit in on Elrick's drum-kit during cabaret engagements. He appeared alongside the American bandleaders Louis Armstrong, Joe Venuti, Benny Carter and many others. He also recorded with the black woman trumpeter Valaida Snow, on tour from America in the Black Birds shows in the mid-1930s.

At the end of Hall's BBC contract, Elrick established his own band, under the managership of Jack Hylton. From 1937-39, they toured the variety theatres in the show Youth Must Have Its Fling. He spent the second world war touring with the forces entertainment group ENSA and, apart from his tenure on Housewives' Choice, his subsequent show-business roles included pantomime and - more famously - as manager and record producer for various artists. His most notable association was with the orchestra leader Mantovani, for whom he arranged three world and 15 American tours.

Elrick was also a prolific composer of songs - among them Everybody Wants To Be Loved, I Wouldn't Be Blue and Montego Bay - sometimes under pseudonyms. He earned a number of gold and platinum discs, was president of the Entertainment Agents' Association and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

A member of the Grand Order of Water Rats (King Rat for 1954 and 1973), he was also an honorary life member of the Variety Club of Great Britain, for whom he co-produced and narrated the music-hall compilation LP Hail Variety.

King Rats, former heads of the Grand Order of Water Rats. Back row, from left: George Doonan, Tommy Trinder, Johnny Riscoe, Bud Flanagan, Albert Whelan, Ted Ray, Wee Georgie Wood, Clarkson Rose  and George Elrick. Front: Charlie Chester, Ben Warriss and Cyril Dowler.

He died aged 96 in London, 15 December 1999. Elrick's wife died in 1992 and his son in 1954. He is survived by two sisters. (Info mainly The Guardian. 1999)

Go here for a great British Pathe film clip

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