Ukulele Ike in Australia, 1952

The Australian Women’s Weekly’s interview with Cliff Edwards was published on the 16th of January 1952. Mr Edwards confessed that his first uke was a mandolin stripped of four strings. He also let slip that he found performing hard on the nerves, but thought them necessary for show business success. And he has performed for important people in his day. Winston Churchill’s favourite tune by Cliff was “Singing in the Rain”, and ol’ FDR liked “Home on the Range”.

Ukulele Ike with his favourite hat (and uke)

Apparently, Ukulele Ike started his working life as a painter in a ship-yard, which he left for the more difficult work of vaudeville.

As for hobbies (why do they always ask?), the ukulele hotshot said he likes eating, sleeping, and reading Plato, Socrates and Pericles, and biographies — was he pulling her leg, or writing a song? But we’re told he spoke seriously. He’d lost interest in “murder and sex” novels and liked something solid instead.

He reckoned the old songs of the 20s and 30s were superior to the modern tunes, because the old ones had melody and they have legs — citing a few hit songs in 1952 that were written in 1917.

In 1952, Cliff was unmarried and “very, very, very happy”. He hoped to be in show business for many years yet.

For his Sydney trip, he performed at the Celebrity Club.

Published in: on November 26, 2010 at 5:49 pm  Comments (13)  
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13 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. “Cliff was unmarried and “very, very, very happy”
    Oh I understand, I am born 1 year later 1953

  2. Hard to read Pericles and Socrates, as they didn’t leave us any writings. Plato is right on, though.

    • He might have been having a joke, or he might have meant ‘read about them’ instead of ‘reading about murder etc’

  3. Amazing. I had no idea Edwards had been to Australia. Actually, I think the Celebrity Club was one of those 50s era Sydney gangster haunts. Poor old Ike — spent most of his later life down on his uppers, and strung out. Thanks for posting this.

    • Thanks, Peter. Yes, it was a surprise to me as well. Although I like his early work, the stuff he recorded in the mid-1940s is very fine.

  4. Hello,

    Love this blog. Great work!

    In February next year I am presenting a talk about ‘Ukulele Ike’ at the Melbourne Ukulele Festival. I am particularly interested in the visit to Australia Ike undertook in 1952 (the year of my birth, incidentally!)

    You say there was an interview in the The Australian Women’s Weekly’s with Cliff Edwards, published on the 16th of January 1952.

    Is it possible to get hold of this interview for use in my talk? If so, it would be greatly appreciated.

    Any other Ukulele Ike resources would be much welcome too!

    Best regards,
    Terry Chapman

    • Hi Terry,
      Sent you an email which I hope will help.

      You might hit the Cliff Edwards/Ukulele Ike tabs and see what comes up — I have a few posts on him.

      All the best.

      • Hi Michael,

        More research shows that Cliff Edwards travelled to Australia in November-December 1951, arriving in Sydney on 30 December. He was brought to Australia by Joe Taylor, owner of the Celebrity Night Club in Sydney where Cliff worked for the month of January, 1952.

        Cliff appeared as a guest on the Bobby Limb radio show on 2UW and twice on the Jack Davey Radio Show on 2GB. There were no television appearance as TV was not introduced until 1956 in Australia.

        Cliff’s appearances at the Celebrity Night Club were broadcast live on a Sydney Radio station, possibly 2KY. The programs were broadcast each night Cliff worked at the club.

        Cliff was also interviewed by Reg McMaster on his radio program ‘Welcome Visitor’ on 2UW, Sydney.

      • You’ve been busy! Thanks for the update.

    • I too would like details of the Woman’s Weekly interview please..

      I have about half a dozen recordings purportedly done when he was here in Australia. They are “raw”


  5. Every week or so Robert Wheeler the Founder of Ukulele Consciousness and I get together with three or four ukuleles from his collection and a six pack of beer. Whoever had crafted the ukulele was certainly very familiar with Martins.

  6. That list of reading matter certainly does suggest a song lyric. I’d love to hear such a song from Cliff. Thanks for the information that he made an Australian appearance.

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