Red Sails in the Sunset (song)

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"Red Sails in the Sunset" is a popular song. Published in 1935, its music was written by Hugh Williams (pseudonym for Wilhelm Grosz) with lyrics by prolific songwriter Jimmy Kennedy.[1] The song was inspired by the "red sails" of Kitty of Coleraine, a yacht Kennedy often saw off the northern coast of Ireland and by his adopted town Portstewart, a seaside resort in County Londonderry.[2]

The title of the song provides the inspiration for the Red Sails Festival held annually in Portstewart, Northern Ireland. Kennedy wrote the song while staying in Portstewart.

The song was used in the Broadway production of Provincetown Follies which ran from November 3 until December 19, 1935 at the Provincetown Playhouse.[3]

Popular versions in 1935 were by Bing Crosby, Guy Lombardo, Mantovani and Jack Jackson.[4] Another early version was recorded by Al Bowlly with Ray Noble and his Orchestra on September 18, 1935. Louis Armstrong also had a hit with the song in 1936.[5]

The song was revived by Nat King Cole in 1951. This version was released by Capitol Records as catalog number 1468. It first reached the Billboard magazine Best Seller chart on July 13, 1951 and lasted 2 weeks on the chart, peaking at #24.[6] Another version was released in 1954 on MGM 11977 by Sam "The Man" Taylor and His Orchestra, with Sam on tenor saxophone.

An instrumental version of the song became the signature tune of the Philippine radio drama series Dear Kuya Cesar, broadcast on DZMM radio (ABS-CBN) in the sixties and hosted by Cesar Lacbu Nucum, a.k.a. Kuya Cesar. The song was also the signature tune of Suzette Tarri, a British actress and comedian popular on stage and radio in the 1930s and 1940s.

Recorded versions[edit]


  1. ^ J. J. Kennedy The Man Who Wrote The Teddy Bears' Picnic: How Irish-born lyricist ...- 2011 146788569X "However, before he wrote anything with Carr, Jimmy Kennedy had more successful songs with Will Grosz, including possibly his most famous ballad, Red Sails in the Sunset. Red Sails in the Sunset sold more copies than any other UK song in 1935, with notable recordings by Lew Stone, Ambrose, Joe Loss and virtually all the other orchestras. Top vocalists included Vera Lynn, Gracie Fields, Al Bowlly and Greta Keller. In America it was voted the No. 2 song of the year by NBC's new and influential radio network show, Your Hit Parade, .
  2. ^ Songfacts. "Red Sails In The Sunset by Bing Crosby - Songfacts". Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  3. ^ "Internet Broadway Database". Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 571. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 33. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  6. ^ It was also recorded by Tab Hunter in 1957. A rock-and-roll reworking of the song was often sung by the Beatles during their early years of night club engagements. Vaughn Monroe also recorded this song in the late 1940s Whitburn, Joel (1973). Top Pop Records 1940-1955. Record Research.
  7. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  8. ^ "Vera Lynn 'Red Sails in the Sunset'" on YouTube
  9. ^ "'夕陽紅帆' by Rou Yun 柔雲" on YouTube
  10. ^ Joe Turner - RED SAILS IN THE SUNSET on YouTube

External links[edit]