Baritone Peter Dawson, born in Adelaide, Australia, was one of the most prolific recording artists of the early twentieth century. In a career that lasted from 1904 until the mid-1950s, he made thousands of recordings, mostly for His Master’s Voice, and is said to have sold more than 25 million discs throughout the English-speaking world. He recorded under his own name and under numerous pseudonyms, using the name “Will Strong” for Music Hall recordings and “Hector Grant” for Scottish-flavoured items. He often imitated the great Harry Lauder, about which Sir Harry was less than amused. Among his most famous songs were Navaho; Boots; Route Marching; and Cells (the latter three with words by Rudyard Kipling).
Dawson is known to have recorded two Fred Godfrey songs: Meet Me, Jenny, When The Sun Goes Down (Zonophone 50, 1908), under the pseudonym “Hector Grant,” and Open Your Heart And Let The Sunshine In (HMV B-1166, 1921), under the name “Will Strong.”
“Mr. Bert Feldman tells the story of two of the biggest songs of the day, the titles of which are ‘Put me amongst the girls’ and ‘Meet me, Jennie, when the sun goes down.’ The first of these had a rough passage....My experience with the other song...was totally different. This number...has scarcely been written five weeks. I bought it the day after it was written, and we had copies out the following day. Miss Alice Lloyd rehearsed the song daily during the week, and produced it with emphatic success at three halls in London just one week after it was written. Miss Maude Mortimer simultaneously introduced the song with equal success in Scotland, since which it has been secured by every principal manager for his pantomime, as well as by Mr. George Edwardes for the Gaiety Theatre. That, I think, can be considered one of the records of the music publishing business” (“Messrs. Feldman’s Songs,” The Era, 14 December 1907, p. 25).
Listen to Peter Dawson,
as “Hector Grant,”
singing Meet Me, Jenny,
When The Sun Goes Down (1908)
Is Dawson’s fine accompanist none other than the pianist/composer Fred Godfrey himself?
Alice Lloyd, sister of great Music Hall star Marie Lloyd, graces the cover of the sheet music for Meet Me, Jennie, When The Sun Goes Down. Miss Lloyd introduced the song in London theatres toward the end of 1907.