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Layton & Johnstone
(active 1922 - 1935) U.S.A.

Layton & Johnstone



The Man I Love (in "Getting Sentimental Over You" 1928)

When the mellow moon begins to beam,
Ev'ry night I dream a little dream;
And of course Prince Charming is the theme:
The he
For me.
Although I realize as well as you
It is seldom that a dream comes true,
To me it's clear
That he'll appear.

Some day he'll come along,
The man I love;
And he'll be big and strong,
The man I love;
And when he comes my way,
I'll do my best to make him stay.

He'll look at me and smile--
I'll understand;
And in a little while
He'll take my hand;
And though it seems absurd,
I know we both won't say a word.

Maybe I shall meet him Sunday,
Maybe Monday -- maybe not;
Still I'm sure to meet him one day--
Maybe Tuesday
Will be my good news day.

He'll build a little home
Just meant for two;
From which I'll never roam--
Who would? Would you?
And so all else above,
I'm waiting for
The man I love!

It was in 1922 that J. Turner Layton formed a double act with Clarence ("Tandy") Johnstone even though both were already well established as solo entertainers. The first encounter between them happened in New York. Layton was playing the piano and singing in a private function room of a hotel. During a break, he went into the corridor to smoke a cigarette, and there he encountered Clarence Johnstone, who, having been engaged as a singer for another room, was doing the same thing. After that first casual encounter, Layton agreed to meet Johnstone in the office of the composer and agent W.C. Handy, who encouraged them to join forces. Within days they were offered a string of engagements.

Soon Layton and Johnstone were invited to go to London to appear in a revue, Elsie Janis At Home. Their appearance and their musical skills were a winning combination. Within a few days they were booked for late night cabaret at the famous Café de Paris.

During Layton and Johnstone’s first season at the Café de Paris, they received a visit from Raymond Langley, artiste and repertoire manager of Columbia records. Hearing that they were due to audition for HMV the next day, he made an immediate offer and, with nothing to write on, drafted a contract out on the back of a menu. This included #100 down and a royalty payment which, over the next 24 years, earned Turner Layton over #250,000. During that time he made over 350 records as a solo entertainer and hundreds more with Clarence Johnstone. During the eleven years of their partnership they were reported to have recorded 1,008 numbers.

The two eventually signed a contract with the BBC and this exposure enhanced their box office appeal to such an extent that they could command #1000 a week in Variety in the late 1920s. Equally important, their record sales boomed throughout the United Kingdom and they also made sizeable inroads into the American market.

Layton and Johnstone invariably appeared on stage in superbly tailored evening clothes. They had always very enthusiastic audiences. As the curtain opened, Turner would be playing an introduction. Then the applause died down, and they went into their act, which was simplicity itself. They were seen in front of plain black curtains and performed with a minimum of movement, Layton seated at the keyboard and Johnstone standing erect in the crook of the grand piano. The only hint of flamboyance came from a silk handkerchief which Johnstone always clutched in one hand. But what the audience regarded indulgently as a mild affectation was, in reality, a device to disguise a hand crushed in a boyhood accident.

Turner was a gentle personality, playing a beautiful accompaniment. Johnstone, was showy, playing the fool and capturing the audience with his snowy white hair and the way he rolled his eyes all over the theatre. Layton and Johnson's enormous popularity brought rich rewards and soon they were able to afford all the trappings of success - luxury cars such as a cream Rolls Royce, big houses, lavish parties, and the most elegant clothes that Saville Row could provide.

Edwina Mountbatten, Lady Louis, was very keen on the theatre, and when she went to see them and she thought that they were a sensation. She gave a private party, and they were the guests of honour. As Layton and Johnstone became the darlings of London society, they were invited to appear before Edward, Prince of Wales. On more than one occasion they performed at private parties at St. James's Palace and after one such occasion, Turner Layton received the gift of a pair of gold cufflinks from His Royal Highness, in grateful thanks for teaching him how to Charleston.

The two men worked tirelessly in the recording studio. They would set aside several days each month, and put down a dozen or more numbers a day. Easy and adaptable to work with, they would take a new song from sheet music neither had seen before and try it over and over again until it was exactly right. All Alone and You Forgot To Remember sold 750,000 copies each. Their biggest seller, the Layton and Johnson version of Sonny Boy, sold a million.


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