[Dixielandjazz] Re: Limehouse Blues Lyrics

Bill Haesler bhaesler at bigpond.net.au
Wed Sep 7 22:38:14 PDT 2005

Dear Michael,
"Limehouse Blues" (1922. Philip Braham, music- Douglas Furber, lyrics) was
written for and became the hit of a 'Broadway' musical called 'Charlot's
Revue of 1924' featuring Beatrice Lillie, Gertrude Lawrence, Jack Buchanan,
Herbert Mundin, Robert Hobbs and Douglas Furber.
It ran for 173 performances at Times Square then toured. Other musical
contributors were Noel Coward, Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake.
However, the show came from London, England and was in fact a 'best of' the
celebrated Andre Charlot's other London shows.
In this revue "Limehouse Blues" was a feature for Gertrude Lawrence
(although she did not record it until 1931) and was originally intended to
be a duet with Jack Buchanan.
Unfortunately, I have been unable to find a contemporary description of the
scene in which Miss Lawrence preformed the song, but the words would have
had some connection to this.
The 'Limehouse' of the song was Chinatown in Stepney, England, part London's
dock area. Made infamous by novelists like Edgar Wallace.
Julie Andrews played Gertrude Lawrence in the 1968 film of her life, 'Star'.
"Limehouse Blues" was featured in the film and I have a very vague memory of
this involving a Chinese scene. Perhaps it was a Hollywood recreation of the
original stage version.
So far as your lyrics are concerned, I notice that they have been PCed along
the way!
The Scrappy Lambert/Red Nichols' version of 31 May 1928 has:
"Oh Limehouse Blues, Oh Oh Oh Limehouse Blues,
[Learnt From The Chinkies] Those Sad China Blues.
Rings For Your Fingers And [Tears] For Your Crown,
That Is The Story Of Old Chinatown."
Kind regards,


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