About This Website
Some of the new material appearing here is thanks to many hours of unpublished taped interviews carried out life-long George Formby enthusiast and Decca record producer Kevin Daly (1942-1989), and his great friend and fellow Formby expert Rex Blaker during the 1960s. Kevin had known Formby (and many of Formby’s friends and colleagues) personally, corresponding with him (via Beryl) for several years in the late 1950s, and swapping recorded material with them. For many years he and Rex worked together on the definitive biography, but both their premature deaths came before they could complete it. What remained was a ton of source material, boxes full of original papers, cuttings, taped interviews, photographs and scribbled notes, which have been painstakingly organised and filed. These form the basis for the material on this website.
The most important of these taped interviews are those with Formby’s mother – and widow of the great George Formby Senior – Eliza Formby. She was a fascinating woman, and had the most phenomenal memory, being able to recall the smallest details and dates, even back into the nineteenth century. (When asked if she knew roughly when George had his first engagement at The Argyle, Birkenhead, she came back immediately with, “April the 17th”!) She has provided a wealth of detailed information, particularly about her husband and his life, including his last, moving reunion with his mother, and his final days. What she says has the ring of truth about it, and when it can be cross-checked by other sources it invariably proves correct. There is no reason to doubt the veracity of her testimony, which is related in her captivating, musical, Wigan accent, with its nineteenth century turn of phrase. Eliza died in 1981 at the grand age of 102, having outlived her beloved husband by sixty years.
Kevin Daly discovered George Formby at the age of seven, at Saturday morning pictures, and from then on George was a constant source of happiness for him. Soon after Formby’s death in 1961 he was one of the four founder members of the George Formby Society. He went on to become one of Decca’s top record producers, working with many stars, including Bing Crosby, Stanley Holloway and Jessie Matthews. He became the General Manager of Argo Records, where he made important spoken word recordings with people such as PG Wodehouse; he wrote and produced The Wonder of the Age, a history of recorded sound, which received widespread acclaim. Gramophone magazine said of it, “At long last the gramophone has worthily recorded its own history.” He was a founder of ASV Records, and created its superb Living Era reissue label.
BENSON, George: Taped Interview, October 1962 (unpublished)
DALY, Kevin: The Wonder of the Age 2-LP set (Argo, 1971) – original script and source material
DALY, Kevin: Let’s All Go To The Music Hall 2-LP set (Argo, 1975) – original script and source material
DALY, Kevin: The Nineteenth Century Boys (unpublished)
DALY: Kevin: Speech Becomes Immortal (unpublished)
FORMBY, Beryl: Letters to Kevin Daly, 1957-1959 (unpublished)
FORMBY, Eliza: Taped Interview 1 – 15th November 1962 (unpublished)
FORMBY, Eliza: Taped Interview 2 – February 1967 (unpublished)
FORMBY, Eliza: Taped Interview 3 – March 1967 (unpublished)
FORMBY, Eliza: Taped Interview 4 – March 1967 (unpublished)
FORMBY, Eliza: Taped Interview 5 – March 1967 (unpublished)
HALLIDAY, Bert: Taped Interview, March 1967 (unpublished)
HILL, Joe: Written Interview, 1965 (unpublished)
LATTA, Eddie: Taped Interview, 17th September 1966 (unpublished)
LOMAN, Bert: Written Interview, 1965 (unpublished)
SHINER, Ronald: Taped Interview, 18th February 1963 (unpublished)
Original newspaper cuttings and reviews 1917-1963; trade show magazines and reviews 1926-1946; online archive newspaper articles and reviews from the ‘Manchester Guardian’ 1917-1922; acetate recordings of George and Beryl’s interviews in Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand; recordings of troop concerts and interviews from the war years; acetate recording of ‘Postscript to the BBC Nine o’clock News’, 23/1/44; audio tape recordings of 1950s television appearances; tape recordings of stage appearances; original photographs 1899-1961.
BRET, David: George Formby – A Troubled Genius (Robson Books, 1999)
FISHER, John: George Formby (The Woburn Press, 1975)
MANDER, Raymond and MITCHENSON, Joe: British Music Hall (Studio Vista, 1965)
MELLOR, G J: The Northern Music Hall (Frank Graham, 1970)
NEWTON, H Chance: Idols of the Halls (Heath Cranton Ltd, 1928)
PEARSALL, Ronald: Edwardian Music Hall (David & Charles, 1975)
RANDALL, Alan and SEATON, Ray: George Formby (WH Allen, 1974)
Liverpool Echo: ‘The Fabulous Formby’ by Harry Scott; Marjorie Baker’s 1967 documentary film, and the subsequent recording of a lecture on the film which she gave; Formby’s December 1960 ‘The Friday Show’ television programme; Ann Paul’s 1981 ‘Forty Minutes’ television documentary; Kevin Daly’s 1986 The Ukulele Man radio documentary; The George Formby Society’s The Vellum magazines.