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George Formby

Ooh Mother It Turned Out Nice Again!

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The cheeky tones of the Lancashire Lad George Formby, could be heard echoing round the Chelford School Hall at a recent meeting of the Chelford Chums. Jon Baddeley, a self confessed Formby 'anorak', joined the Chums for a rousing afternoon of song and story which followed the life of the star born in Wigan. The Chums were also joined by children from Chelford Primary who are following in George's footsteps and learning to play the ukelele.

Jon captivated the audience with his tales of George, interspersed with catchy songs famous for their amusing lyrics and the occasional double entendre which drifted above the heads of those who had led sheltered lives or were still in the prime of their innocence (he was actually banned by the BBC in 1937 for suggestive lyrics). Jon was joined by the audience when it came to the timeless choruses and regular foot tapping and audience accompaniment could be heard across the Hall throughout.

Although Wigan born, less well known is that George actually began his career in entertainment when he lived in Stockton Heath, Cheshire. From being born blind and having his sight restored when he sneezed, his early career began as a jockey. Having abandoned thoughts of racing horses, George turned his talents to performing in music halls where he was to become one the greatest entertainers of his time. He developed a catchy and complicated musical syncopated style on the ukelele that became his trademark, allegedly taken up as a hobby and first played on stage for a bet. Fame brought wealth from films, entertaining troops in the World War II, Royal Variety performances and eventually an OBE. Formby died in 1961 but he left a legacy of songs that many still remember. One of his greatest fans was George Harrison of the Beatles who regarded the ukelele as his favourite instrument.

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