Let’s All Go Mad

 


Listen to a
1911 recording
by Billy Williams
for Beka Grand

.
Letter dated 18 April 1911 from Fred Godfrey assigning all the rights to Let’s All Go Mad to Billy Williams. Fred even goes so far as to state that the song is to be Billy’s “sole & absolute property,” for which Fred got an unusually generous £5.
   

 

Fred Godfrey & Billy Williams, 1911; manuscript of two drafts of lyrics in author’s collection.

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A 1912 London newspaper review of Billy Williams described his stage act in the following glowing terms:

Billy Williams is the spell-binder of the variety stage at the present moment. He of the velvet suit and curly hair is not satisfied with impressing his audience in a general sort of way, but holds it in his grip and never lets go. The boundless vivacity of the man and his infectious gaiety are the principal secrets of his popularity....[He] is the very personification of energy. He is not still for two moments together; when not walking with an imaginary partner he is walking up and down the stage as if he were bent on lowering somebody’s record....Unlike many light comedians, Billy...can sing, and he has a knack of getting hold of songs that are worth singing. At the Holborn Empire this week, he featured with triumphant success a rollicking song, which is strongly reminiscent of a recent favourite, “Let’s All Go Mad.” The song suited the comedian’s style like a glove, and when he appealed to the audience to join in the chorus — the appeal, by the way, was quite superfluous — every man, woman, and child in the house — well, simply went mad.1

Columbia A1184-B Jumbo A658-B Phoenix 090-A Regal G6009-A
Billy Williams has signed the wax masters of all these recordings.

 

Recordings

Billy Williams recorded at least eight versions of this hit song: 12 August 1911 for Zonophone, ca. August 1911 for Columbia, ca. August 1911 for Homophon, ca. August 1911 for Jumbo, ca. September 1911 for Edison Amberol, ca. September-October 1911 for Pathé, ca. December 1911 for Beka Grand, and 12 January 1912 for Favorite. Reissues appeared on several other labels.2

Jumbo Military Band, in “Jumbo Band Medley 2” (Jumbo 617, 1912)

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Notes

1   News of the World, 7 April 1912.
2   For comprehensive discographies of recordings by Billy Williams, see Brian Rust, British Music Hall on Record (Harrow, UK:
    Gramophone, 1979); and Frank Andrews and Ernie Bayly, Billy Williams’ Records: A Study in Discography (Bournemouth, UK:
    Talking Machine Review, 1982).