Songwriters Friends

One of the greatest popular entertainers in American history, Al Jolson was born Asa Yoelson in St. Petersburg, Russia on March 26, 1886.

Immigrating to the US, Jolson was brought up in Washington DC. After performing with a minstrel show troupe and in vaudeville, he arrived on Broadway in 1911.

His dramatic vocal style, stage presence and personal rapport with audiences made him the star of the stage and for most of the next 20 years was considered the king of the American musical. In 1927, Jolson ushered in the age of sound in motion pictures with the first ‘talkie,’ The Jazz Singer.

Jolson was one of the most successful recording artists from 1912 through 1948 with nearly 100 songs reaching the top twenty on the Billboard charts. In fact, his first recording, ‘That Haunting Melody’ hit #1!

Other #1 hits include ‘Ragging the Baby to Sleep’ (1912), ‘The Spaniard That Blighted My Life’ (1913), ‘You Made Me Love You, I Didn’t Want to Do It’ (1913), ‘I Sent My Wife to the Thousand Isles’ (1916), ‘I’m All Bound Round With the Mason Dixon Line’ (1918), ‘Hello Central, Give Me No Man’s Land’ (1918), ‘Rock A Bye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody’ (1918), ‘I’ll Say She Does’ (1919), ‘I’ve Got My Captain Working For Me Now’ (1919), ‘Swanee’ (1920), ‘O-H-I-O (O-My! O!)’ (1921), ‘April Showers’ (1922), ‘Angel Child’ (1922), ‘Toot Toot Tootsie (Goo’bye)’ (1922), ‘California, Here I Come!’ (1924), ‘I Wonder What’s Become of Sally?’ (1924), ‘All Alone’ (1925), ‘I’m Sitting On Top of the World’ (1926), ‘When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob-Bob-Bobbin’ Along’ (1926), ‘Sonny Boy’ (1928), ‘There’s a Rainbow Round My Shoulder’ (1928) and ‘Little Pal’ (1929).

Al Jolson, a controversial figure in American pop culture due to his ‘black face’ character, was unsurpassed in popularity during his era. The biopic The Jolson Story was released in 1946 with newly recorded vocals by Jolson, and was a comeback for the entertainer.

Al Jolson died on October 23, 1950.


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