Today is the birthday of Cliff Friend (1893-1974). A second generation musician, Friend studied at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music before being sidelined for several years with TB. He went into vaudeville (also appearing in English music hall), eventually becoming the accompanist for Harry Richman. This led to relationships and collaborations with the likes of Al Jolson, Buddy De Sylva, Billy Rose, Lew Brown and Irving Caesar. In partnership with others he co-wrote a number of important Tin Pan Alley songs, the most lasting of which proved to be “Lovesick Blues”, thanks to the hit country record Hank Williams had with it over 25 years after it was written. Others included “The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down” (one of the themes for Warner Brothers Looney Tunes cartoons), “Then I’ll Be Happy”, and his very first one in 1923, “You Tell Her I Stutter”.
To find out more about vaudeville past and present and performers like Cliff Friend, 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 don’t miss 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