Ukulele Heroes: The Golden Age (Anglais) Broché – 6 août 2012
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Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Whitcomb tells all in this lavishly illustrated, endlessly entertaining tribute to stringed `lamb chop' wielders, vividly and anecdotally tracing the origins of the instrument as the axe of choice in old Hawaii to its record industry ups and downs from the 1910s to the present day.
Readers with an interest in pre-WWII pop music will find much to salivate over here, while newbies who don't know ragtime from a ragdoll or a uke from an URL will enter a whole new world populated by fantastic characters that not even J.K. Rowling could have conceived of. Tying it all together is the effervescent and endearing Whitcomb, who weaves his own personal story as a self-described `one-hit wonder' ("You Turn Me On") into the greater fabric of the history of popular song. And what a talented yarn spinner he is, as adept at telling a rousing tale as he is at performing in the old British music hall style.
Inspirational sentence (from a section on bawdy British ukelele star George Formby, as he meets his wife-to-be): "She liked his sparkling eyes that radiated innocence, as if he'd just been dropped by the stork and was bewildered by what he saw down here below."
Whitcomb's previous histories of popular music include "After the Ball: Pop Music from Rag to Rock," "Tin Pan Alley: A Pictorial History," and "Irving Berlin and Ragtime America." Fans of more recent music will enjoy Whitcomb's ongoing anecdotes about rock icons, including George Harrison, a ukelele fanatic who would subject innocent visitors to day-long lessons on the instrument, and Bob Dylan, who invited Tiny Tim to his Woodstock, NY fortress of solitude for a command performance.
And speaking of Tiny Tim, Whitcomb uses "Ukulele Heroes" to face down and ultimately forgive the man who turned the uke and its Tin Pan Alley repertoire into a garish joke in the late 1960s, just when Whitcomb was trying to garner respect for the instrument. He and his act ended up tarnished by the Tiny Tim brush, though he's gone on to arrange, perform, and act in films when he isn't tirelessly hitting the stage to extol the virtues of the old time songs.
Cliff Edwards (Ukulele Ike). His story is a sad one. A man so popular and so talented to have died a pauper and buried in an unmarked grave. He appeared in early western movies and stage shows and, also, the voice of Jiminy Cricket in Disney's Dumbo. His voice range was astounding. His ukulele playing was superb. Today, he is practically unknown out of the music world.