The ERA Obituary For Arthur Lloyd
Arthur Lloyd was born in Annandale Street, Edinburgh in 1839. He performed there many times. He died, and was buried in Edinburgh in 1904. Below is a copy of the complete unedited text of The ERA Obituary for Arthur Lloyd, July 23rd 1904. The ERA also printed a Reminiscence of Arthur Lloyd in the same issue which you can see here.
Death Of Arthur Lloyd
The news of the death of Mr Herbert Campbell had scarcely been published in the dailies before we heard of the passing away of Arthur Lloyd at Edinburgh, the city in which he was born. Last week we had to record the death of his daughter in-law, Mrs Harry King Lloyd, and it was while the relatives were assisting at the sad rites of the burial of this lady that they learnt the sad tidings.
Right - Click to see the Obituary as printed in the ERA 23rd July 1904.
We regret to know that the deserved
gentleman, who was highly esteemed and beloved by all whom he came in
contact, was a stranger to prosperity in his latterdays.
In November, 1900, he had a
complimentary matinee at the Royal,
but it was not the success it ought to have been, and a movement was
on foot to tender him a testimonial benefit that would have been a worthier
recognition of his services to the public. Mr H. E. Moss and other gentlemen
prominent in the variety world had placed
themselves on the committee and Mr Edward Ledger readily assented to
hold the office of hon. Treasurer. Arthur Lloyd served the public for
half a century, and he always endeavoured to be artistic. He may be
said to have died in harness, and it is a pitiful thing that the last
days of such an entertainer should have been chilled by poverty.
Right - An Obituary for Arthur Lloyd printed in the Evening Dispatch Thursday July 21st 1904 - Courtesy Peter Charlton.
His father was a comedian of the Edinburgh and Glasgow theatres on the old “circuit” days. Arthur wished to follow in his footsteps, and was put out, as it were, when he was only sixteen years of age, with a celebrated manager of his time, Mr J. R. Newcombe, and was sent to his theatre at Plymouth.
Right - The Theatre Royal, Plymouth - Click for details.
He remained two seasons with him, playing, of course, only very small parts, being, in fact, “general utility.” After two seasons at Plymouth the young comedian went back to Glasgow. Here it was that Mr Lloyd’s genius found it’s true bent. In those days of stock companies and circuits the closing season of the theatres used to be called “the recess.” Now some theatres do not close at all. When they do they call it “the vacation.”
The Late Mr. Arthur Lloyd
Which is the most classic name is hard to determine. However, “the recess” did it. It found Arthur Lloyd out. His father was in the habit of filling in “the recess” by travelling about giving entertainments, and Arthur went with him to assist him. That showed him what he was made for – a comic singer impersonating various characters, mostly eccentric or pronounced enough to provide a keen observer of human nature with opportunities of artistic caricatures.
It was in 1861
that the deceased comedian commenced his music
hall career. It came about in this way. Two pounds a week was the
salary fixed by tradition and practise as the reward of a low comedian;
and young Lloyd, although certain of occupation with his father’s concert
party during the off season, was not by any means so sure of an engagement
as a second low comedian when the theatres were at work again. He got
many odd engagements to sing at concerts and such like for half a guinea
and even a guinea a time, and at length led to the offer of an engagement
at four pound a week at the Whitebait
Music Hall, Glasgow, which he determined to
accept. He started at the old Whitebait Music Hall in Glasgow. It was
a room that would hold about two hundred people seated at tables. There
was a chairman and a pianist. The proprietor was Mr. James Shearer.
There was only one other “hall” in Glasgow,
namely David Brown’s, and there didn’t seem to be enough business to
keep them both going.
Right - St Enoch Station which was built on the site of the Whitebait Music Hall - A shopping center stands on the site today.
When his father heard the news of his determination to go on the halls he was horror stricken. He had all the old-fashioned hatred of a music hall. “My lad,” said he, “You’ll die a drunkard.” The fact was that in those days music hall singers were greatly tempted to drink. There was no charge for admission to the hall, but every kind of refreshment was sold at the then high rate of sixpence, while adjacent to the stage door was a room called the green-room, but actually a semi-private bar, through which the professionals had to pass, and wherein they usually spent the interim between their “turns,” which were two or more in a night. A popular singer often had to oblige with a dozen songs in the evening. Arthur Lloyd remembered his father’s unpleasant prophecy, and was never a patron of the green room.
One of Mr Lloyd’s songs was a Scotch edition by permission of Sam Cowell’s “Railway Porter.” Arthur Lloyd was fortunate in securing an invitation to London very soon after his provincial debut. He never forgot the journey. One of his travelling companions was W. G. Ross, the historic singer in the Coal Hole of “Sam Hall,” Ross had a bottle of whisky with him, to which he devoted himself with so much assiduity that he must needs remove the wig he wore, to the especial horror of an old lady in the carriage. Ross used to be a popular singer of the long descriptive songs of that day – songs that took well nigh half-an-hour to execute, and detailed the entire plot of a novel or a drama. Ross was so devoted to these lugubrious compositions that he persistently sang them long after the public taste had rejected them, and he declined in public esteem to the point of becoming a chorus singer.
Left - Sam Cowell's Railway Porter.
Mr Lloyd came
to London in 1862 to fulfil
engagements at the Sun, Knightsbridge, Marylebone
Music Hall, and the Philharmonic, Islington,
where Sam Adams subsequently lost a fortune, and which is now replaced
by the Grand Theatre, Islington. Lloyd
was met at the station when he arrived by his friend Harry Clifton,
who advised him to take lodgings at Islington, where his last turn was.
So at Islington he sought lodgings, and found them, by the strangest
of coincidences, with the old lady whom Ross’s bald head had scandalised
in the train.
Right - The Gaiety Theatre, London - Click for details.
Mr Lloyd recalled in connection
with his engagement at the Philharmonic
a story that George Leybourne often told him in later years. Leybourne
was among the audience one night, and was so delighted with Lloyd’s
singing that he drew out an old silver watch from his pocket and bumped
it on the table in the ardour of his applause. He returned to his home
in the north, and astonished his old father with the announcement, “Father,
I am going to be a comic singer.” “Thou a comic singer,” said the old
man, “and pray where dost thou get thy comicality? It does not come
from thy mother, and I’m dammed if it cooms from me!”
His reminiscences of the London Pavilion were especially interesting. “It was,” he once informed us, “Originally a public house with a large stable yard. Messrs Loibl and Sonnhaminer, two foreigners, acquired the property, roofed the yard over, erected a gallery at the back, but at one side only - for the other was occupied by Dr. Kahn’s delectable museum of anatomy - and opened the place as a music hall.
Here I was an enormous favourite; and I am sure Mr Loibl would be the first to acknowledge that my popularity contributed very largely to the prosperity of the place, though I got nothing like the salary that a star of equal magnitude can command today. Then the best seats in the place could be had for sixpence. I constantly tried to persuade Loibl to increase the price, and he did so tentatively, till at length the whole floor, with the exception of a promenade, consisted of half-crown seats. The climax was reached when at great outlay Mr Loibl bought Kahn’s museum and was able to utilise it’s site for structural improvement of the pavilion.” From the time the board of works acquired the hall there is no need to trace it’s history.
Mr Arthur Lloyd had found it convenient to write his own songs.
Almost his earliest efforts was a medley called “The
Song Of Songs,” that started from the base of “I dreamt that I dwelt
in marble halls with the dark girl dressed in blue.” It had a most extraordinary
career of popularity, but did not bring it’s author and composer the
large fortune that one sometimes hears of as the guerdon of a comic
song, for he sold the rights of publication for a mere trifle.
Among the more popular successors of “The Song of Songs” were “Not for Joseph,” “Constantinople,” “Cruel Mary Holder,” “The Roman Fall,” “Take it Bob,” “Going to the Derby”—now inseparable from “Over Rowley”—“One more polka,” and “I couldn’t.” Probably of this selection the most successful of all was "Not For Joseph".
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