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August 10, 2007


Louis Harrison

Lounge act Art and Dotty Todd had a hit with "Broken wings" in England, but in the United States they are best known for "Chanson d'amour" which made the charts in 1958. They were one hit wonders in both countries.

Deuteronomy McClurkin

You'd be surprised how long the blackface minstrel show stuck around in the UK.

I spent a year in Canterbury not too long ago and would frequent charity shops. Digging through the vinyl always unveiled an embarassing number of minstrel records. Needless to say, a lot of them were from the 60's.

michael farris

A friend once lent me a videotape about non-PC entertainment in the (mostly 70's) UK.

Among the flotsam, I was stunned and horrified to find that a blackface minstrel show was on tv through (most) of the 70's. IIRC it was called the 'black and white minstrel show'? yikes

Elliott Peters

"The Black and White Minstrel Show" was one of the BBC's biggest TV shows from the 50s to the 70s. I think it was axed in the very early 80s. Either way it ran for a long time in a prime time slot.

Headed by George Mitchell, TBAWMS were huge in Britain and would tour regularly and play in seasons at the seaside. They also sold several million albums released on EMI with one or two of them staying on the UK album charts for years at a time. Indeed these can be easily found in charity shops.

Of course, the BBC now try and pretend such a show never existed and a lot of them are lost but many remain and feature a mindboggling variety of guests. Its one show that will likely never be screened again.

Things began to go sour for them when they were on a Royal Variety show in the 70s alongside Diana Ross. Ross refused to go onstage whilst they were around and when she finally did (having kicked up a huge fuss in the meantime) she gave the black power salute in protest.

I know of at least one Al Jolson impersonator and he gets the occasional gig although he performs without the blackface makeup for rather obvious reasons.


OTOH, we now have a thriving, multibillion dollar minstrel entertainment complex here in the States. What with 50 cent, the Game, and all the rest helping to keep the tradition alive, we're likely to see minstrelry extend far into the 21st century. "yo yo yo my niggas, minstrelry pays the big benjamins and brings on the bling and bitches!" So line up and buy, suckers.

michael farris

The show I saw mentioned the Diana Ross incident. One of the minstrels claimed that that was the first indication he had that some people might be offended at what they were doing. He also claimed that he'd personally never made the association between minstrel makeup and real black people before that and that he felt bad at the time for causing distress to Ms. Ross.

This being the UK the stuff about South Asians was just as bad and the stuff about gays and women was possibly worse.


This must have been a record that could be purchased at the end of a variety turn at the likes of 'Butlins'/'Pontins'/'Golden Garter' type affair, rather than ever commercially released surely.

BTW, you have to remember that TBAWMS was popular until the late 70's in the UK with SOME people - and that's key. These people were then divided into those who watched it to enjoy the songs and those who watched it to enjoy the Andy 'n Amos type 'humour' (which is where it moved into the decidedly more suspect territory of racial stereotyping). It was killed by the 'humour' content rather than the white guy blacks up and sings a song content. Whilst I wouldn't want to go as far as K, I think we can all recognise that racial stereotype humour is still very much a part of the entertainment business, just that nowadays it doesn't, or doesn't need to, 'black-up'.

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