Foreword

 

by FRANKIE LAINE

 

 

A LONG TIME AGO, a fellow by the name of Asa Yoelson took New York's Broadway by storm with his courageous style of singing on the great stages, namely the Winter Garden. The son of a cantor in Washington, D.C., Asa, now known to everyone as Al Jolson, performed the great songs of his time, notably songs like "Mammy," "Swanee," and "Sonny Boy," "California Here I Come," "April Showers," and belted them out from a runway stage, built deep into the orchestra seats, with verve and much heart, always telling his adoring audience that " I wanna see your faces," and, "you ain't heard nothin' yet!."

That was my distinct hero, the one person who set the stage for my fledgling career. A dominating, powerful voiced performer who sang out loudly mainly because there was no microphone to help him project his songs. He often remained after his show's final act and continued to wow his audience until after midnight. No one else did that.

Then along came followers Crosby, Como, Sinatra, Bennett, and Frankie Laine, that's me, and all of us emulated the great Jolson. He was our hero, our heroic predecessor.

I once met up with Al Jolson on the set of The Jolson Story and told him of my reverence for his music and recently sent Richard Grudens the one photograph taken with Jolson, that I cherish, to place in this book.

Now, I say to you, read about this great man, often called the greatest entertainer of the 20th century. Richard Grudens unveils the sights and sounds of the era and includes Jolson's counterparts, supporters, detractors, musicians, producers, song writers, and includes interesting vignettes of the legendary Shubert Brothers and all of Broadway's other characters.

A colorful and rich biography of the music, the sights and sounds of the early part of the 20th century, of the great Al Jolson.

 

 

 

 

BACK COVER TEXT:

WHEN JOLSON WAS KING

Memories of the World's Greatest Entertainer

Here is the quintessential Al Jolson tribute from the pen of author/music historian Richard Grudens, documenting the story of Al Jolson's colorful rise to fame in the first half of the 20th Century while earning the title of The World's Greatest Entertainer. This wondrous career is told in stories and photos with tributes from the immortals of show business that include Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Frankie Laine, Kathryn crosby, Patty Andrews, Connie Haines, Jack Benny, Fred Allen, Lee and Jake Shubert, Eddie Cantor, George Jessel, Joe Franklin, Sybil Jason, Beverly Roberts, Richard Rodgers, Milton Berle, Will Rogers, George Burns, George Gershwin, Walter Winchell, Davey Lee, Rudy Wissler, Irving Berlin, Clive Baldwin, Tony Babino and others who interpolated Jolson's tremendous career through the years and beyond.

Frankie Laine: "Richard Grudens unveils the sights and sounds of the era that includes Jolson's family, counterparts, supporters, detractors, musicians, and song writers. A colorful and rich biography and valuable guide to a great performer and his works."

All this is celebrated by dedicated Al Jolson followers led by Dolores Kontowicz who formed the International Al Jolson Society after Jolson's death in 1950, whose works continue today with over 1000 members worldwide keeping the Jolson torch alive.

Kathryn Crosby: Richard Grudens is the musical historian of our time. Without him much would be lost. We owe a debt to him that can never be repaid."

Phone: 631-862-8555

P.O. Box 344 - Stony Brook - NY - 11790

 Fax: 631-862-0139