Ukulele Song, The (Arthur Godfrey)

Arthur Morton Godfrey (August 31, 1903 – March 16, 1983) was an American radio and television broadcaster and entertainer who was sometimes introduced by his nickname The Old Redhead.


The Ukulele Song (WORD)
The Ukulele Song (PDF)

YOU CAN PLAY ALONG WITH ARTHUR GODFREY, and embellish as you wish! Some suggestions have been made on the songsheet, but make it as simple or as complex as you wish. Note that Godfrey typically played a baritone uke.

At the peak of his success, in the early-to-mid 1950s, Godfrey was heard on radio and seen on television up to six days a week. He is associated with the origin of the baritone uke along.

The two names most closely associated with the origin of the baritone uke are Arthur Godfrey and Herk Favilla. Godfrey was an avid musician, radio personality, and early television star of several programs including Arthur Godfrey and His Friends and Arthur Godfrey and His Ukulele. Hercules “Herk” Favilla was a third-generation luthier and the son of John Favilla, who co-founded the Favilla Brothers stringed instrument company in New York City with his brother Joseph in 1890. Herk took over the family business in 1959 and continued to build ukuleles, mandolins, banjos, and guitars until he retired in 1980.

The Godfrey origin story goes that Godfrey asked Eddie Connors, a CBS musician, to design a larger-bodied, lower-pitched ukulele. That first instrument is likely the cutaway baritone Godfrey regularly played on his TV shows, as well as in the 1966 movie The Glass Bottom Boat. Connor’s basic bari design (sans cutaway) was subsequently put into production by the Vega Company of Boston, Massachusetts, sometime around 1950. Since no known patents exist for the baritone ukulele and Arthur, Herk, and Eddie have all long passed, we’ll probably never know for sure which birth of the baritone story is true. Perhaps, as with so many inventions, both Godfrey/Connors and Favilla independently developed similar instruments. (Ukulele Mag March 2017)

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