Nick Lucas (born Dominic Nicholas Anthony Lucanese on this day in 1897) was billed as “The Crooning Troubadour” and is considered by some to be the “grandfather of the jazz guitar”. His signature song and biggest hit “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” (including aspects of Lucas’s high-pitched tenor voice) were later appropriated by Tiny Tim in the 1960s. He started out playing banjo, mandolin and guitar in an act with his accordionist brother in around 1919. From here he graduated to dance bands. Radio spots, solo recordings and vaudeville dates resulted. When vaudeville died, he did a few talkies, toured Australia (where vaudeville lived a bit longer), the USO, nightclubs and tv. His career lasted all the way into the 1970s, when he sang on the soundtrack to The Great Gatsby. He died in 1982.
Now here he is in action!
To find out more about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.
And check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc