Featured Songs:

Rosy Cheeks

Underneath the Stars

I Might Have Known

Telling The Daisies

Heart O'Mine


Old Timer

Just A Little Closer

Wasting My Love On You

I'm Yours

Related Links:

Pathe Actuelle

Hit of the Week

Regal Zonophone

MacGregor Transcriptions

Tip-toe Thru' the Tulips
© 2000 ASV-CD AJA-5329

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The Crooning Troubadour
Rare recodings from the 1930s
© 2002 Crystal Stream IDCD81

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 Nick Lucas - Brunswick Records

Nick Lucas' first solo recording with Brunswick Records was in 1923 with his original compositions "Pickin' The Guitar" and "Teasin' The Frets". He had waxed the first versions of these tunes for Pathe Actuelle a year earlier. Nick re-recorded these tunes again for Brunswick in 1932 and ironically they were also to be among the last recordings he did for Brunswick.

Around 1917 Nick Lucas and Ted Fio Rito formed a group called "The Kentucky Five" which appeared successfully in Vaudeville and then he worked with Vincent Lopez in New York City for several months before joining the Vernon County Club Orchestra as a banjo and guitar player. The groups New York debut was sponsored by Paul Whiteman and it was with the Vernon Country Club Orchestra Nick Lucas began his recording career as a sideman in 1921. The next year, 1922, he and his brother Frank recorded for Pathe Actuelle as the Lucas Novelty Quartet and the Lucas Ukulele Trio and that year Nick recorded for Pathe the first guitar solo record ever made, his compositions "Pickin' The Guitar" and "Teasin' The Frets". His work as a guitar player would influence musicians for decades to come, including Gene Autry, Eddie Dean, Roy Clark, Glen Campbell, Merle Travis, Doc Watson, Joe Pass and Les Paul.

Nick also played guitar in a group called the Don Parker Trio, which recorded for Pathe Actuelle, and he then joined Sam Lanin's Orchestra which appeared at the Roseland Ballroom at 51st Street and Broadway in New York City. Among the co-workers with the Lanin group were Miff Mole, Red Nichols, Arthur Fields, Rube Bloom and Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. Besides working with Lanin's group at night he recorded with him during the day for Gennett Records, the group being called Bailey's Lucky Seven.

In 1923 Nick left Sam Lanin to join Ted Fio Rito and Danny Russo's Oriole Orchestra at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago. The Orchestra recorded for the Brunswick label. Lucas can be heard doing excellent guitar work on this label's earliest known Chicago recording; "Bit by Bit, You're Breaking My Heart" - (Brunswick 2489-B).
It was there Nick Lucas made his radio debut over station WEBH and his popularity became so great that late in 1923 he was signed as a solo artist by Brunswick Records and his first big hit for the company, "My Best Girl" sold very well, and for later releases, the company's executives dubbed him "The Crooning Troubadour". He soon had a long string of hits for Brunswick, including , "I Might Have Known" (penned by Lucas), "My Bundle Of Love", "I've Got The Girl", "Bye, Bye Blackbird", "Brown Eyes, Why Are You Blue", "Side By Side", "I'll Get By", "Looking At The World Through Rose Colored Glasses" and a host of others. His total record sells exceeded 84 million.

Not long after Nick Lucas was heading a show at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles when a Warner Brothers talent scout saw him and he was signed to star in the 1929 Technicolor movie musical, "Gold Diggers of Broadway", which resulted in the songs "Tip Toe Through The Tulips with Me" and "Painting The Clouds With Sunshine" giving Nick Lucas his biggest selling record of all, with sells from the Brunswick 78 going over the three million mark. The film was so successful that Warner Brothers quickly signed him to star in "The Show of Shows" in which he not only sang several songs but also headlined the "Chinese Fantasy" production number with Myrna Loy. Warner Brothers wanted to sign Nick Lucas to a seven year contract, but he turned it down, preferring to remain as a vaudeville star.

Although the year 1929 brought Nick his biggest selling record it also brought the Great Depression which eventually killed Vaudeville and nearly did the same for the record industry. Nick's records, however, continued to be good sellers through 1931. No doubt it was the rise in popularity of dance band recordings that brought about the formation of "Nick Lucas and His Crooning Troubadours". He made 20 recordings in 1930/31 with this group and they were of the highest quality, both technically and professionally. The advances in recording techniques captured his voice very well and the band's arrangements, particularly on now classic sides that did very well like "Walking My Baby Back Home" and "You're Driving Me Crazy" , were excellent. One of the interesting things about these sides is that they featured Lucas singing the verse of the song before the chorus, very rare on other dance band recordings of the era. Admittedly, the recordings were made to feature his voice, but they still stand up well today as fine examples of band arrangements of the early 1930s. Nick Lucas left Brunswick over a dispute but he returned to them in 1932 after making a couple of recordings for the Hit of the Week. After returning to the Brunswick label in late 1932 he cut another half a dozen sides.


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