John Willie, Come On!

Album: Golden Greats (1926)

Songfacts®:

  • "John Willie, Come On!" is a Lancashire dialect song about a man who visits London with his wife; it was written, recorded and sung by the comic performer George Formby.

    In his study Victorian Song From Dive To Drawing Room, Maurice Willson Disher blamed Formby and this song in particular for the "Simple Simon" attitude supposedly adopted towards people with Lancashire accents which it is said makes it difficult for them to be taken seriously.
  • "John Willie, Come On!" was published by Francis, Day & Hunter of London in 1909; according to the on-line discography of the George Formby Appreciation Society, it was recorded by Formby on June 11, 1926 for Edison Bell/Winner. But George Formby was born on May 26, 1904, which means he would have had to have been an extraordinary child prodigy to write this song.

    The solution to this conundrum is that there were two George Formbys! The first was born in 1875 as James Booth; he took the stage name Formby after a Lancashire town. After his death in 1921, his son decided to follow in his father's footsteps, performing initially as George Hoy, his mother's maiden name to avoid trading on his father's reputation - although he based his act on his father's songs.

    It was not though until he took up the ukulele that he became first a national, and then an international star. Because he rose to greater heights than his father, George Formby Junior is known simply as George Formby, while his father is now alluded to as George Formby Senior.
  • In spite of its obvious Lancashire connection, if you listen closely you will hear an echo of the French national anthem, "La Marseillaise", in the opening bars of the original 1908 recording of "John Willie, Come On!" >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 3

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