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Billy Murray - JPop.com
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Billy Murray

Billy Murray

Billy Murray


Billy Murray (25 May 1877 - 17 August 1954) was one of the most popular singers in the United States in the early decades of the 20th century. While he received star billings on Vaudeville, he was best known for his prolific work in the recording studio, making records for almost every record label of the era. He was probably the best selling recording artist of the first quarter of the 20th century. He was born as William Thomas Murray in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of immigrants from Ireland. Read more on Last.fm
Billy Murray (25 May 1877 - 17 August 1954) was one of the most popular singers in the United States in the early decades of the 20th century. While he received star billings on Vaudeville, he was best known for his prolific work in the recording studio, making records for almost every record label of the era. He was probably the best selling recording artist of the first quarter of the 20th century. He was born as William Thomas Murray in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of immigrants from Ireland. He became fascinated with the theater and joined a traveling vaudeville troupe in 1893.

He also performed in minstrel shows early in his career. He made his first recordings for a local phonograph cylinder company in San Francisco, California in 1897. He started recording regularly in the New York City and New Jersey area in 1903, when the nation's major record companies as well as the Tin Pan Alley music industry were concentrated there. In 1906 he waxed the first of his popular duets with Ada Jones. He also performed with Aileen Stanley, the Haydn Quartet, the Premier Quartet, and the American Quartet (the latter two actually being the same group), in addition to his solo work. He had a strong tenor voice with excellent enunciation and a more conversational delivery than common with bel canto singers of the era.

On comic songs he often deliberately sang slightly flat, which he felt helped the comic effect. While he often performed romantic numbers and ballads which sold well at the time, his comedy and novelty song recordings continue to be popular with later generations of record collectors. Murray's popularity faded with changes in public taste and recording technology; the rise of the electric microphone in the mid 1920s coincided with the rise of the crooners. His "hammering" style, as he called it, essentially yelling the song into the recording horn, did not work in the electronic era, and it took him some time to learn how to soften his voice. While he continued to work, his singing style was considered "dated" and less in demand. In the late 1920s and early 1930s he also did voices for animated cartoons, especially the "follow the bouncing ball" type which incorporated songs from his salad days.

He also did radio work. Murray made his last recordings in 1943 and retired to Freeport, Long Island, New York in 1944. He died in nearby Jones Beach. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..

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