Monday, February 15, 2010

Harry Lauder, More Thoughs about a Great Scot

His real name was Henry MacLennan Lauder, but he was called Harry.  His wife's real name was Annie Valance but he called her Nancy. In the dangerous coal mines of Scotland, Harry would sing to drown his fear.  The other miners began asking him to sing and soon he was entered into a local talent contest.  He won second prize but his musical career was started.

It was love at first sight with Annie Valance.  She was "destined to be the only woman he would ever love, it was love at first sight and he could think of nothing or no one else."  He wrote the following song for her:

"I Love a Lassie"
"She is my Rosie"
"Queen Among the Heather"
"She's the Lass for Me"
"Bonnie Wee Annie"

When their son was killed in WW I, Harry was performing in London.  They closed the theater and he rushed home to Annie.  But, she encouraged him to return to London because their were others grieving who needed his songs and laughter.  Closing the show also put people out of work and so he returned.  The last words spoken by his son on the battlefield of Flanders were "Carry On."  and so he did.  "The Show Must Go On" was given birth.  When the curtain went down on that first show,  Harry Lauder fainted.

During the war, Harry Lauder at his own expense, hired 100 pipers to march the length and breath of Scotland to recruit soldiers.  "Which is why the bulk of the British forces in WWI were Scots."  The Germans called them "The Ladies From Hell" because they wore kilts, shouted Gaelic war cries and were absolutely fearless in battle.  Scottish losses were horrific.  I have mentioned before that after the war it was reported there were towns and villages in Scotland without a single young man eligible for marriage. I wonder if populations figures bear this out?

Harry Lauder became a millionaire but never demanded a certain fee for performing.  He always took whatever was offered.  "The knight of the Music Hall, the poor coal miner who became a millionaire and an international celebrity, died in Strathave, Scotland on February 26, 1950."

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