Peter Dawson: If In The Great Bazaars (date unknown)

 |   |  1 min read

Peter Dawson: If In The Great Bazaars (date unknown)

So who sold a lot of records then? Oh yeah Rihanna, right? And the Beatles and Elvis? And, of course, Peter Dawson.

Peter Dawson? Yep, according to the liner notes on the (possibly) mid-Seventies album this track is lifted from, Dawson -- born in Adelaide in 1882, died Sydney in 1961 -- sold at least 14,000,000 records in his long career. His career reached from cylinder discs with the Edison-Bell company (where he recorded under the name Leonard Dawson) into the vinyl album era, and he sang everything from opera to Australian folk songs.

He was hugely popular -- he appeared at the Royal Opera House and Covent Garden during his many years in Britain -- and also sang under a number of aliases: for lighter songs he was Frank Danby, for music hall material he was Will Strong and for Scottish songs he was Hector Grant. He was also JP McCall for some of his songwriting credits.

His company toured Australia and New Zealand in the years before World War I and he had been recording 78s since 1904.

He might not have seemed particular in his repertoire -- he sang Mendelssohn and German lieder but was equally at home on The Road to Mandalay and Waltzing Matilda -- but the clarity and power of his delivery is what endeared him to millions.

He also served in World War I and during the next big one -- for which he was too old -- he worked in his brother's metal factory.

Quite a life, and quite some sales figures too.

So here then is 1.30 seconds of a man the Guinness Book of Records places alongside Caruso and Presley as one of the top 10 record sellers of all time.

Rihanna? Ha! 

For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory use the RSS feed for daily updates, and check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Lou Reed: Families (1979)

Lou Reed: Families (1979)

Lou Reed probably never struck you as having a sentimental streak, but this song (from his album The Bells) is as nakedly autobiographical and pained as John Lennon's Mother. It is the... > Read more

Polyrock: Your Dragging Feet (1980)

Polyrock: Your Dragging Feet (1980)

While it's always been fashionable and hip for rock musicians -- especially those in what we might call avant-rock -- to namedrop jazz or contemporary classical composers in interviews, but when... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Seckou Keita Quartet: Afro-Mandinka Soul (Arc/Elite)

Seckou Keita Quartet: Afro-Mandinka Soul (Arc/Elite)

The trickling, tingling and melodic sound of the kora -- a West African lute-like instrument -- is at the forefront of this warm, charming album which is soothing and seductive over its 10 glowing... > Read more

Chris Macro: Macro-Dubplates Vol III; Brooklyn vs Kingston (chrismacro.com)

Chris Macro: Macro-Dubplates Vol III; Brooklyn vs Kingston (chrismacro.com)

Those who like a good mash-up won't want to go past this collection by New Zealand producer Chris Macro, formerly of the excellent but short-lived Dubious Brothers (just one album, the excellent... > Read more