G.H. Elliott (1884–1962)
G.H. Elliott was one of Britain’s best-loved blackface entertainers in the days before such things became unthinkable and, as noted above, he had an unfortunate stage nickname to match that would be an act of historical amnesia to omit. He was, like Gracie Fields, born in Rochdale, Lancashire, and as a child was taken to the United States, where he learned his craft with the Primrose West Minstrels.1 He was elegant and sophisticated — Peter Honri relates that, in blacking up, he always used champagne corks.2 Music Hall historian W. Macqueen-Pope calls him “the nearest approach to the wonderful Eugene Stratton the Halls ever knew”3 (although S. Theodore Felstead accords that accolade to another blackface performer, Dubliner Tom E. Finglass4). Among the songs particularly associated with him are I Want To Go To Idaho, I Used To Sigh For The Silvery Moon, and Sue, Sue, Sue. Elliott’s long career carried him well into the 1940s. He retired to a house in Rottingdean, East Sussex, that he called “Silvery Moon,” and is buried in the churchyard at St. Mary’s, Rottingdean.5
Elliott recorded three Fred Godfrey songs: You’ve Got Me And I’ve Got You (with his wife Emilie Hays; Zonophone 1518, 1914); There’s A Little Baby Up In The Moon (Zonophone Twin 1468, 1915); and Mammy’s Mississippi Home (Zonophone 2110, 1920). In addition, on stage he performed Godfrey’s I Want You To See My Girl (January 1909).
1 Peter Gammond, The Oxford Companion to Popular Music (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), p. 176.