Fred Godfrey’s Collaborators


 

Follow The Sergeant Everybody's Happy Up In Blackpool

 

“Fred Godfrey, Worton David, and Lawrence Wright...
have been responsible for more popular songs of late than
any other combination of song-writers”

The Stage, 22 July 1915

 

Fred Godfrey sometimes worked alone, but usually he collaborated with other songwriters, among them some of the busiest and most successful of the Music Hall era. Typically, however, the songs were published as “written and composed by...”, making it impossible to ascertain who was responsible for what aspect of the creative work unless the collaborator, such as Harry Castling, is known to have been primarily a lyricist.

Another complication is that the publishers and artists themselves frequently had their names added to the composing credits as a condition of acceptance for publication or performance. One is thus left wondering just how many of the songs published by, for example, Star Music and with composing credits to Fred Godfrey, A.J. Mills, and Bennett Scott were actually the product of these three men, considering the latter two were owners of the publishing company. The same holds true for Lawrence Wright Music and the many songs with credits to Godfrey and Wright (or “Horatio Nicholls,” Wright’s pseudonym) and for Worton David Music and the songs credited to Godfrey and David. Mills, Scott, Wright, and David were, of course, accomplished composers in their own right, but it is easy to imagine writers such as Godfrey showing up at the music publishers with an essentially finished song already in hand. Some of Godfrey’s reminiscences and those of Dorothy Ward with respect to, for example, Take Me Back To Dear Old Blighty suggest strongly that this was indeed often the practice.

As for the artists, such as George Formby Jr., Max Miller, and Mark Sheridan, whose names appear in the credits, it is almost certainly the case that they had little if anything to do with writing the songs they accepted, as very few of them — Harry Lauder is a grand exception — wrote their own material in those days.

A final comment is that nearly all of the songwriters of the British Music Hall, including Fred Godfrey, toiled away in obscurity and earned comparatively little money from the songs they wrote. Unlike many of their American contemporaries — the von Tilzers, Cohan, Fisher, Herbert, Berlin, Kern — they enjoyed no popular recognition, and except perhaps for the likes of Leslie Stuart, Noël Coward, and Ivor Novello, no “biopics” would be made about them. Even such basic personal details as dates of birth and death are unknown for the writers of some of the most imperishable classics of the era. Much has been written about the great artistes and performers, the impresarios who built the Halls, and even the magnificent theatres themselves, most now sadly lost. But what about the songwriters? Is it not high time musicologists and researchers gave them their due? This website hopes to rescue Fred Godfrey, at least, from oblivion. His collaborators and the other writers who made everybody sing deserve no less.

From the British Pathé archives comes a fascinating glimpse into the business of songwriting in Fred Godfrey’s world: Britain’s Tin Pan Alley, Denmark Street, London, as it was in 1951 (the photo below is from 2006). No Godfrey material here, but it includes a brief look at Lawrence Wright, Vera Lynn, and a very young Petula Clark. See

http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=47092.

For information on some of Fred Godfrey’s collaborators and the music they created, please click on the names below:


George Arthurs

Fred J. Barnes

Ralph Butler

Harry Carlton

Harry Castling

Fred E. Cliffe

Charles Collins

Leslie Leonard Cooke

Fred E. D’Albert

George D’Albert

H. Worton David

Tolchard Evans

George Formby Jr

Harry Gifford


Joseph G. Gilbert

Shaun Glenville

John A. Glover-Kind

Will E. Haines

William Hargreaves

J.P. Harrington

Jimmy Kennedy

J.F. Lambe

Alf J. Lawrance

Will Letters

John P. Long

Tom Mellor

Max Miller

A.J. Mills

C.W. Murphy

Fred Murray

John Neat

Harry Parr-Davies

Clarkson Rose

Leslie Sarony

Bennett Scott

Maurice Scott

Terry Sullivan

R.P. Weston

Billy Williams

Lawrence Wright