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Born in London, England, Whyton grew up listening to jazz, blues and folk music, and learned to play first the piano, then trombone, and finally guitar. In 1956, while working in advertising, he formed the Vipers Skiffle Group, which became the resident band at the 2i's Coffee Bar in Soho. After a number of hit records produced by George Martin, including Whyton's song "Don't You Rock Me Daddy-O", the group split up in 1960, and Whyton moved into television work.
Photogenic and with a soft-spoken voice, Whyton normally wore a cardigan as he presented the children's programmes, Small Time, Lucky Dip, Tuesday Rendezvous (on which The Beatles made their second television appearance, performing "Love Me Do"), Five O'Clock Club, Ollie and Fred's Five O'Clock Club and Five O'Clock Funfair for Associated-Rediffusion and Rediffusion London. Whyton normally performed a song while playing his guitar on the children's shows. He was also a presenter on the BBC's Play School (1966) and Play Away (1973).
Subsequently, he was the host of Granada TV's Time for a Laugh. From the 1960s to the 1990s he was a presenter on BBC Radio 2, mainly fronting folk and country music programmes. One of these was "Hello Folk" and another "Country Club". In the 1970s "Hello Folk" was rebroadcast on BFBS. In 1976, he toured Germany, visiting the Forces Folk clubs presenting The McCalmans and Mike Harding.
Despite his busy schedule as a broadcaster, Whyton continued to find time to record. As well as recording an album of Woody Guthrie songs, Children's Songs of Woody Guthrie, he wrote and recorded the conservation anthem, Leave Them a Flower. and an album titled "Growing Up with Wally Whyton" including medleys of songs for children.
The cover of Whyton's It's Me, Mum! appeared on Steve Carter's Worst Album Covers Ever Created.
It's Me Mum
It's Me, Mum! (sic) (Fontana, STL5476) was released in 1968 and featured Whyton playing 12-string guitar and singing contemporary and traditional folk songs from the United States, an old music-hall song, and a couple of his own songs: "Selma, Alabama (April 1965)", and "When Winter Comes". Also appearing were John Mark (guitar), Phil Bates (bass) and Terry Cox (drums).
- Track listing:
- Side 1
- "Gentle on My Mind" (John Hartford)
- "Ballad of the Boll Weavil" (trad. arr Whyton)
- "Little Red Hen" (Malvina Reynolds)
- "Don't Send My Mother to Prison" (tune by Whyton, words by Geoffries/Jones)
- "Tomorrow Is a Long Time" (Bob Dylan)
- "The Urge for Going" (Joni Mitchell)
- "1913 Massacre" (Woody Guthrie)
- Side 2
- "San Francisco Bay Blues" (Jesse Fuller)
- "Greenback Dollar" (Hoyt Axton)
- "When Winter Comes" (Whyton)
- "900 Miles from Home" (trad. arr Whyton)
- "Underground Train" (Egbert Moore)
- "Leaving on a Jet Plane" (John Denver)
- "Selma, Alabama (April 1965)" (Whyton)
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- Here's A House: The Story of Play School, Volume 1, Paul R Jackson, 2010
- "From Small Time to big time - ITV - Transdiffusion Broadcasting System". Transdiffusion.org.
- "Wally Whyton's Country Club". 15 January 1976. p. 48 – via BBC Genome.
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- Colin Larkin, ed. (2002). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Fifties Music (Third ed.). Virgin Books. pp. 491/2. ISBN 1-85227-937-0.
- "Wally Whyton - It's Me, Mum!". Discogs.com.
- "It's Me, Mum! - Wally Whyton | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 October 2019.