Wendell Hall

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Wendell Woods Hall (August 23, 1896, St. George, Kansas – April 2, 1969, Fairhope, Alabama) was an American country singer, vaudeville artist, songwriter, pioneer radio performer, Victor recording artist and ukulele player.

Biography[edit]

Hall was known as the red-haired music maker and the pineapple picador in his recording heyday of the 1920s and 1930s. In 1923, he released the song "It Ain't Gonna Rain No Mo'", which sold over two million copies in the United States.[1] He wrote "Underneath the Mellow Moon" and "Carolina Rose". Hall also wrote songs with Carson Robison and Art Gillham.

Hall began his career in 1922 Chicago as a song plugger for Forster Music. He traveled around the country and stopped in towns to play in music stores, theaters, and radio. In vaudeville he began singing and playing the xylophone. He found the ukelele to be more portable and quickly became an expert with that instrument. In January, 1924 he signed with the National Carbon Company to host the Eveready Hour a pioneer commercially sponsored variety program on WEAF in New York. On November 4, 1924 the program was on a pre-network 18 station "hook-up" to broadcast election returns with entertainers Will Rogers, Carson Robison, Art Gillham, and the Waldorf Astoria Orchestra. Eveready even painted their batteries with a red top to cash in on Hall's popularity. In 1929 Wendell Hall hosted the Majestic Music Hour and a few years later Gillette's Community Sing. He made a few musical short films. After his radio days were over Wendell Hall wrote commercials for radio.

He did some collaborations with Carson Robison, recording versions of Stephen Foster tunes such as "Camptown Races" and "Oh! Susanna". He made recordings on Victor Records.

Hall performed on a variety of stringed instruments, including the standard ukelele, the taropatch ukelele, banjo, and the hybrid banjolele, as well as the tiple. Like so many of the other performers during the era, Hall was a big fan of the instruments created by the C.F. Martin & Company, particularly their Taropatch. Like other performers, he was unsuccessful in obtaining an endorsement deal with Martin, but in response to his letter offering to endorse their product, Martin offered a their 20% discount for professional performers and to inlay his name in the head of the instrument.[2]

He published an instruction book, Ukelele Methods, with Forster Music in 1925, that was edited by May Singhi Breen. He also marketed a series of custom ukeleles, The Red Head Ukulele and banjolele with red tuning pegs[3] that became collectors' items for several generations afterward.[1]

When the ukulele dropped in popularity, many performers distanced themselves from it, Hall was no exception. It wasn't until Arthur Godfrey brought the instrument back to life in the 1950's that it re-emerged. Due to this resurgence, Hall was able to land a radio show on WBKB five days a week.[3]

Personal Life[edit]

In 1924, Hall married Marion Martin. The wedding was performed live on the radio.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Whitcomb, Ian (2012). Ukulele Heroes: The Golden Age. Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard Books. p. 47. ISBN 978-1-4584-1654-4. 
  2. ^ Walsh, Tom (2013). The Martin Ukulele: The Little Instrument That Helped Create a Guitar Giant. Hal Leonard. p. 52. ISBN 978-1-4768-6879-0. 
  3. ^ a b Tranquada, Jim (2012). The Ukulele: A History. Honolulu, Hawaii: University of Hawai'i Press. p. 6. ISBN 9780824836344. 
  4. ^ Elmer Douglass, "Marriage of Friends Stirs Elmer's Soul," Chicago Daily Tribune, June 5, 1924, 10

External links[edit]