George Formby: When I'm Cleaning Windows (1936)

 |   |  <1 min read

George Formby: When I'm Cleaning Windows (1936)

In his later years George Harrison developed an affection for the ukulele, and one of its greatest practitioners, English music hall comedian, singer and actor George Formby.

Right at the end of the Free As A Bird single Harrison threw in a nod to Formby, and specifically to this mildly naughty song which had them rolling in the aisles in the Thirties and Forties.

Formby -- from Lancashire -- may seem an odd influence on the Beatles (Lennon also a fan, McCartney more recently picking up ukulele), but consider the period: they grew up when Formby was still a hugely popular figure and his music was widely played on radio, and was sung in pubs and homes around the country.

Formby's humour was shot through with double entendres (some of his songs were banned by the BBC) and folksy homilies, and he moved into films, appeared at Royal Variety Performances, entertained the troops, skewered Hitler in song, and when he died in 1961 more than 100,000 mourners turned out.

Herman's Hermits had a minor hit with Leaning on a Lamp Post (see below). 

Even today he is name-checked in popular culture -- although his music is rarely played anywhere.

So here is George Formby at his risque best. 

For more oddities, one-offs or songs with a backstory see From the Vaults

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Max Bygraves: You’re a Pink Toothbrush (1959)

Max Bygraves: You’re a Pink Toothbrush (1959)

When George Harrison was interviewed for the Beatles’ Anthology he spoke about the songs he heard in his childhood which somehow influenced him, and the other Beatles. These days you... > Read more

No Way Sis: I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (1996)

No Way Sis: I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (1996)

For the Oasis tribute band No Way Sis their work was done for them: Oasis were notorious for borrowing/plagiarising/thieving melodies which songwriter Noel Gallagher cheeerfully admitted -- and... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

WOMAD ARTIST 2015: Richard Thompson

WOMAD ARTIST 2015: Richard Thompson

Richard Thompson starts on the back foot. The legendary British songwriter whose career dates back to the seminal folk-rock group Fairport Convention in the late Sixties and whose admirers... > Read more

Bali: Turn off your mind . . .

Bali: Turn off your mind . . .

Being a travel writer – as I have sometimes grandly described myself – means never being able to say you're on holiday. Every destination – even the most mundane or local... > Read more