jabw_vintage report No. 4

Let me tell you about......

Operatic singer who went on to be a dance band singer and a radio and stage success, b.1899 - d.1997

this page first published by John Wright, 1 Sept 1997
last update 10 November 2012vintage@r2ok.co.uk

After serving during the First World War, Cavan O'Connor won a four year operatic scholarship. He had spells at The Old Vic and Covent Garden and then began to make recordings. I have read in a 'Memory Lane' interview that Cavan O'Connor's first recording was 'Take A Pair Of Sparkling Eyes' (from 'Gondoliers') but I don't know the date or record label.
Cavan O'ConnorCavan O'Connor soon began to make many records on many labels using a variety of pseudonyms; I have a list of 34 such names! He recorded mainly ballads and popular tunes of the day and, according to Rust/Forbes, Cavan O'Connor's first dance band recording was probably made with Harry Bidgood's Band for the Aco label, 'When Lights Are Low In Cairo'on 25 Feb 1927. This recording was issued on three other record labels. Dance bands using Cavan O'Connor in the recording studio included Nat Star, Arthur Lally, New Mayfair Dance Orchestra, Jim Kelleher, Alfredo, Larry Brennan, Jack Hylton, Percival Mackey, Jay Wilbur and others, releasing hundreds of records, most of the labels saying 'with vocal chorus'. If you listen to this excerpt of Just Imagine you will hear that Cavan O'Connor was capable of handling an up-tempo number just as well as the ballad numbers he usually sang. This recording was made by the New Mayfair Dance Orchestra, 16 Oct 1930, with the trumpet obligatto probably by Max Goldberg.

Then in 1935 a new pseudonym was to take Cavan O'Connor to new heights of fame. Eric Maschwitz of the BBC produced several radio programmes where the anonymous 'Vagabond Lover' sung romantic songs. By keeping the singer's identity a secret, and aided by the media press, the programmes were a great success. When the singer's identity was revealed Cavan O'Connor became one of the highest paid broadcasters in Britain.

With the song 'I'm Only A Strolling Vagabond' Cavan O'Connor embarked on a stage career, he would dress in an old suit or corduroy trousers, a cravat or handkerchief round his neck, and a hat pulled down on his forehead. He appeared in at least one British film, 'Ourselves Alone'. Later in life he made many appearances on television and continued to perform up until his mid '90's.

The son of an Irishman, Cavan sang many songs about Ireland. His pseudonyms on 78rpm record labels include several Irish names like Terence O'Neil, Pat O'Dell. Below I have listed the Cavan O'Connor pseudonyms known to me, and the record labels they appeared on.

Cavan O'Connor's Pseudonyms on 78rpm record labels
PSEUDONYM LABEL COMMENTS
Bert & Bob Decca C O'C + Maurice Elwin, though some may be another duo
Harry Carlton Broadcast, Aco, Vocalion Vocalion possibility suggested by Barbara Short

Note: this pseudonym on HMV is Harry Fay
Shaun Cassidy Decca
Clayton & Cairns Scala some are C O'C + John Thorne, some are reported to be Stanley Kirkby + John Thorne
Peter Coleman Victory also pseud for Dick Henderson
John Cavanagh Imperial Imperial 1940 (mx: 4823) Cavan O'Connor sings Until ('No rose in all the world, until you came') as 'John Cavanagh'. Thanks to Dan O'Hara for this information 
Cliff Conelly Decca
Con Conway Phonycord
G. Dunnett Victory
Patrick Ernest Eclipse
Ray Filme Decca
Hardy & Hudson Eclipse C O'C + Tom Barratt
Billy Hayman Victory also pseud for Fred Douglas on Victory and Eclipse
Pat Hugh Victory, Imperial also pseud for Fred Douglas on Victory and Imperial
J. Jack Victory also pseud for Jack Plant
Mellow & Rich Broadcast C O'C + Maurice Elwin
Mick & Mack Sterno C O'C + Maurice Elwin
Patrick Moore Dominion
Pat O'BrianSterno
Pat O'BrienSterno
O'Dell & HudsonEclipse C O'C + ?Sam Browne
Pat O'DellImperial, Victory, Eclipse
Francesco OdoliSterno
Patrick O'MooreDominion
Terence O'NeilEdison Bell Winner
Terry O'NeilEdison Bell Winner also pseud for Tom Burke
Allen O'SullivanSterno, Columbia
Earl ParrySterno
Singing MountaineersRegal - Zonophone C O'C + ?
Jack SmithsonVictory also pseud for Fred Douglas
Solemn & GayZonophone C O'C + Maurice Elwin, though reports that suggest a different pair on some records
Strolling VagabondDecca
Sweet & LowSterno, Regal - Zonophone C O'C + Maurice Elwin
Vagabond LoverDecca, HMV
Jack VaughnWorld Echo pseud for John Thorne, possibly some are C O'C,

There is an active discussion group where you can talk about Cavan O'Connor and the great British dance bands:

Subscribe to British dance bands group

or check out the group site first at http://www.yahoogroups.com/group/british-dance-bands/

Acknowledgements

The information on this page has been collected over the years through reading the 'Memory Lane' magazine and the Rust/Forbes discographies, and correspondence with the late Bill White.

E-mail me if there are any inaccuracies on my Cavan O'Connor page, and if you want to know more about Cavan O'Connor's records with British Dance Bands.

Also, I am interested to know titles of films or newsreels in which Cavan O'Connor made an appearance.

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