Stars of Vaudeville #216: Nick Lucas


First posted in 2010.

Nick Lucas (born Dominic Nicholas Anthony Lucanese on this day in 1897) was billed as “The Crooning Troubador” 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 GatsbyHe died in 1982.

Now here he is in action!

To find out more about  the history of vaudevilleconsult 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 Mediaalso available from etc etc etc


2 Responses to “Stars of Vaudeville #216: Nick Lucas”

  1. Great post. I’m a huge fan of Nick’s. He’s so good, even my wife likes him.

    I’ve always felt his appellation “The Grandfather of the Jazz Guitar” was, well…wrong. He plays jazz inflected pop, but his dextrous playing isn’t really jazz. Eddie Lang (another Italian-American) really seems to deserve the title, as what he played (9 decades later) still sounds like straight-up jazz. So while Eddie was a great jazz player and contemporary of Nick’s, he wasn’t the performer that Nick was, and didn’t connect with an audience they way Nick still appears to all these years later.

    • seems like they threw the word around loosely a lot back in the day. wasn’t Pops Whiteman called “the King of Jazz”? Except, where’s the “jazz”? “Rag” and “blues” were often misapplied as well

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