Harry Hopkinson (8 June 1902--4 March 1979) has been credited as one of the world's greatest yodellers. He was billed as the "Yodelling Cowboy from Chesterfield."
Born Harry Hopkinson at the turn of the century at North Wingfield, Derbyshire, England, in one of the long-since demolished Little Morton Cottages, he went from butcher’s errand boy to become a music-hall superstar who was idolised for his yodelling talents, and during a show business career which spanned half a century made over 25 single records, which today are valuable collectors’ items.
It is said that he was blessed with a voice `sweeter than any nightingales’; a voice recognised for its purity by choirmaster Herbert Butterworth who encouraged Harry to become a boy soprano with the North Wingfield Church Choir. Harry’s Sunday evening solos had the building packed to the seams. After a spell working in the local colliery, he entered show business in a troupe of travelling entertainers.
Harry moved to the newly opened Williamthorpe Colliery. He loved the ponies but hated the pit work, and after suffering an accident which left him partially buried for some hours, decided that being a miner was not for him - and set his heart on a singing career.
When harry was still a teenager, he won a local talent contest where his unique voice was recognised by an entertainment agent who signed him up to tour the country with a music-hall troupe. He changed his name and his image; Harry Hopkinson ex-miner and former butcher’s errand boy became Austin Layton, Music Hall Star.
Dressed in his top hat and tails and looking the picture of elegance with his white gloves and silver-topped cane, the image-makers of the day made the young man with the boyish good looks into the epitome of the 1920’s `Toff’. By the time he was 25 Harry had become the complete showman – and was soon to become an international celebrity following a further change of management and style. For the Music Halls he had been billed as `The Singing Puzzle’ and opened his stage act mysteriously concealed behind a curtain, or sometimes a newspaper, wearing a long wig and a cloak which the audience were allowed brief glimpses of during the performance. The unamplified voice would ring around the theatre, convincing the audience by it’s amazing high-pitched clarity that its owner was female – until the song ended and Harry revealed himself, throwing off the cloak and tossing the wig across the stage to rapturous applause.
The yodelling part of Hopkinson's act was expanded, and he adopted the more commercial and continental sounding name Harry Torrani.
Success followed success for `Torrani’. Harry toured the world during the 1930’s, appearing at theatres as far apart as the U.S.A., Africa, Australia and New Zealand. In an era that witnessed a revolution in the medium of entertainment with the advent of the wireless and the new-fangled gramophone records, Harry Torrani became a yodelling legend.
Hopkinson recorded his first yodelling song on 27 August 1931 for the Regal Zonophone label, Honeymoon Yodel coupled with Happy and Free. His recording career continued until 1942. Some of his songs were Yodel All Day, Yodellers Dream Girl, Honeymoon Yodel, The Australian Yodel, Mammy's Yodel! and Mississippi Yodel!.
As well being an accomplished performer, he also wrote most of his own material. He appeared in Variety Theatres worldwide and also made wireless broadcasts.
Hopkinson retired from show business during the late 1940s. In his retirement he worked as a watch repairer, after suffering a stroke he entered a Nursing Home where he remained until his death on 4th March, 1979 at the age of 77.
Slim Whitman, when asked who in his opinion was the world’s greatest yodeller, answered without hesitation, “Harry Torrani.” (Info mainly edited from oldcountrystyle.webs.com)
Thanks to "gruntlesnoot" @You tube for making this clever video.