Florrie Forde was born Florence Flanagan near Melbourne, Australia, and her career began in Sydney, where she became known as “The Australian Marie Lloyd.” She moved to England in 1897 at the urging of impresario Harry Rickards, and before long became one of the great Music Hall stars and early recording enthusiasts. Music Hall historian S. Theodore Felstead describes her as
a dashing...lady with a most attractive figure, excellent voice, and a positively uncanny faculty for taking hold of an audience. With a wonderful nose for a rollicking song with a good rousing chorus, she [made] her audience sing with her. Florrie could, and did, stop many a show with these choruses of hers.1
Forde especially enjoyed putting over “Irish”-flavoured songs, and among the great hits with which she is particularly associated are Down At The Old Bull And Bush, Flanagan, Has Anyone Here Seen Kelly?, Hold Your Hand Out, Naughty Boy, Oh, Oh Antonio, Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag, They’re All Single By The Seaside, and Waltz Me Around Again, Willie. Another Music Hall historian, W. Macqueen-Pope, says of her and her songs:
[S]he was the female epitome of music hall gusto; she controlled an audience, she made them sing, she had memorable songs and nobody ever sang those songs as she could. They do more than linger on, they are known to almost everyone in the land irrespective of age; nearly all are immortal and can now be regarded as folk songs....Troops marching into the hell of trench warfare in World War I went with her songs on their lips.2
Her career peaked during the First World War, but she continued to perform
well into the 1930s, including in Pantomime, where she was “an impressively proportioned principal
boy.”3 She came out of retirement at the beginning of World War Two
but died suddenly in 1940.
Florrie Forde was a particular friend of Fred Godfrey’s, according to his youngest daughter Peggie (1912–2001), to whom the great star once gave a doll with real human hair. Forde sang and recorded many Godfrey songs, among which were some of her greatest successes.
Florrie Forde’s Godfrey Songs, by Year
O’Morgan (The Irish-Italian Girl) (Zonophone X-43201; Amberol 12155 [cylinder])
Now I Have To Call Him Father (Zonophone 160; Regal T160)
One Day She Helped Herself To Father (Edison 13941 [cylinder])
Pull Yourselves Together, Girls! (Zonophone X-43197; Amberol 12122 [cylinder])
The Queen Of The Factory
Mother’s Had A Row With Father (Zonophone X-43222; Amberol 12236 [cylinder])
The Queen Of The Factory
’Tis A Faded Picture (Amberol 12255 [cylinder])
You Can Never Tell (Amberol 12368 [cylinder])
Why Cant The Girls Be Soldiers?
Dance Your Troubles Away (Zonophone Twin 1165); introduced by Florrie at the Palace, Blackpool, 14 May 1913.
We’re All Getting Used To It (Zonphone Twin 1253)
I’m Off To Kelly’s Isle [According to Brian Rust,4 Florrie recorded this song for Zonophone on 8 April 1914, but the take was rejected; she never re-did it, although she performed the song successfully on stage in Douglas, Isle of Man, that summer.]
It Takes An Irish Heart To Sing An Irish Song (Zonophone 1348)
The Same Old Tommy And The Same Old Jack! (Zonophone Twin 1433)
They All Play The Same Old Game (Zonophone Twin 1456)
We’re Irish And Proud Of It, Too (Zonophone 1416)
Ah! Ah! Ah! There You Are Again (Zonophone Twin 1505)
Are Ye A’ Richt The Noo? (Zonophone Twin 1534)
Back To Tipperary (Zonophone 1494)
The Band Was Playing An Old Scotch Tune (Zonophone Twin 1534)
Here, There And Everywhere (Zonophone Twin 1662)
Then He’d Waltz Her Around (Zonophone Twin 1915)
We’re In, Meredith, We’re In! (Zonophone 1494)
What The-How The-Why The-Who The-Where Have You Been Tonight? (Zonophone 1517)
I Love My Motherland (Zonophone 1725)
It’s Going To Be A Night, That Night (Zonophone Twin 1692)
Mister Sergeant Michael Donoghue (Zonophone 1630)
Pierrot Parade (Zonophone 1679)
Take Me Back To Dear Old Blighty (Zonophone 1725; re-recorded as part of medley, “Selection of Old-Time Hits,” Rex 8093, 1933)
We’ve Got To Put Up With It
Now (Zonophone Twin 1749)
Soldiers Like It (Zonophone 1906)
Hello There Flanagan (Zonophone Twin 1932)
Wheres The Girl You Had Last Year?
Come And Do The Kelly Two-Step
I’ll Always Save The Loving
For You (Zonophone 2175)
Its No Use Going To The Seaside (Unless Youre A Bit Of
Open Your Heart And Let The Sunshine
Marys A Beautiful Name
Rolling Home In The Morning (After
Sorry (You’ll Be Sorry, Florrie)
He Played The Wedding March
Mary (Though I Left You In Argyle)
This Time Next Year
It Takes More Than That To Steal An Irish
Mary, Look What Youve Done For Me
Oh, Maggie! What Have You Been Up To?
Our Claras Clicked Again
Maggie Jane (Youve Been At It Again) (Imperial 2455)
The Trippers Lullaby (Theres
No Place Like Home) (Imperial 2491)
Dont Tell Nell
The Sailors Love The Girls
1 S. Theodore Felstead, Stars Who Made the Halls: A Hundred
Years of English Humour, Harmony and Hilarity (London: T. Werner
Laurie, 1946), p. 103.
2 W. MacQueen-Pope, The Melodies Linger On: The Story of Music
Hall (London: W.H. Allen, 1950), p. 341.
3 Peter Gammond, The Oxford Companion to Popular Music (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), p. 202.
4 Brian Rust, Music Hall on Record (Harrow, UK: Gramophone, 1979), p. 73.