Mark Sheridan (1867–1918)

 

(Mander and Mitchenson
Theatre Collection, with permission)

 
What A Game It Is! Wow! Wow!

Listen to Mark Sheridan singing
What A Game It Is! Wow! Wow!

A legend of the British Music Hall, comic singer Mark Sheridan, whose real name was Fred Shaw, was born in County Durham, although everyone thought he was a Cockney.1 His trademark silly costume featured bell-bottom trousers, pot hat, and umbrella.

Music Hall historian W. Macqueen-Pope describes Sheridan as “true music hall, gusto, vim and vigour personified.”2 Peter Gammond says

He had a line in coy humour, some excellent songs..., and a good, resounding voice to sing them with. He was a great one for having a go at the audience, getting them to insult him and then giving them twice as good as he got. Perhaps the ridiculous garb...was subconsciously intended to invite comment. It did the trick.3

Sheridan is associated particularly with the great hits I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside (1909); One Of The B’hoys (a catchphrase of 1910); By The Sea (By The Side Of The Silvery Sea) (1910); Who Were You With Last Night? (Regal G-6506, Columbia-Rena 2066), which Godfrey managed to sell to him in 1912; Belgium Put The Kibosh On The Kaiser, a prematurely hopeful sentiment of 1914; and Here We Are! Here We Are! Here We Are Again! (1914). He suffered a nervous breakdown, supposedly brought on by declining popularity, and shot himself in a Glasgow park.

In addition to Who Were You With Last Night?, Mark Sheridan also recorded the following Godfrey songs:

In The Days That Are Coming By-And-By (The Budget Song) (Jumbo 430, Coliseum 504, 1909)

Colonel K-Nut (Jumbo 598, 1913; Marathon 407, The Winner 2487, Pathé 8878, Diamond 077, 1913)

The Perambulator Promenade (Jumbo 598, 1913)

What A Game It Is! Wow! Wow! (Diamond 077, 1913; Edison Bell Winner 2473, 1913; Empire 1696; Marathon 400 or 426, 1913; Pathé 8880, 1913; Curry’s 217, 1928)

The World Turned Upside Down (Columbia-Rena 2110, 1913)

 

At the London Tivoli and the Euston last week Mark Sheridan produced a new Feldman number, written and composed by Fred Godfrey and Harry Gifford, entitled “What a game it is - bow! wow!” The number was an instantaneous “hit,” Mr. Sheridan remarking after his first rendition, “I have never known a song to ‘go’ bigger on first production.” Principal boys are advised to hear this number at once, many pantomime rights already having been secured.

The Era, September 24, 1913

As “One of the Bhoys” Mark Sheridan has secured a unique place among variety stars, but his newest distinction is that of patriotic comedian, for his present budget of songs all deal with soldiering, and in the way that has made Mark famous....[Among them are] “Colonel K-nut,” a diverting lyric in which Mark Himself has collaborated with Fred Godfrey. For “The Perambulator Promenade,” by Fred Godfrey and Tom Mellor, a special scene has been painted by the well-known artist T.F.Dunn.

The Era, October 14, 1914

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Notes

1  G.J. Mellor, The Northern Music Hall (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Frank Graham, 1970), p. 89.
2  W. MacQueen-Pope, The Melodies Linger On: The Story of Music Hall (London: W.H. Allen, 1950), p. 392.
3  Peter Gammond, Your Own, Your Very Own! A Music Hall Scrapbook (London: Ian Allan, 1971), p. 63.