John McCormack Biography

14 June 1884, Athlone, Eire, d. 16 September 1945, Booterstown, Dublin, Eire. The son of a Scottish father who moved from Galashiels to work in Athlone’s woollen mills, McCormack was one of the most renowned tenors of the first part of the twentieth century, as well as an early recording star. After winning a singing competition in Dublin in 1903, he made his first records in London the following year. He studied opera singing in Milan, Italy and regularly appeared at Covent Garden in London from the age of 23. From 1907 he had a dual recording career, releasing both operatic arias and popular songs. Among those most associated with McCormack were ‘The Minstrel Boy’, ‘The Irish Immigrant’ and ‘The Sunshine Of Your Smile’. He made hundreds of records, covering virtually the whole repertoire of Victorian parlour ballads, Irish folk songs and ballads, and even German Lieder. During World War I, he enjoyed tremendous success with his version of ‘It’s A Long, Long Way To Tipperary’ and Ivor Novello’s ‘Keep The Home Fires Burning’. He also gave numerous fundraising concerts in the USA. In 1928, McCormack became a Papal Count and the following year made his film debut in Song O’My Heart. During the 30s he gave numerous radio broadcasts and continued to record and give recitals. During his lifetime, over 200 million copies of McCormack’s recordings were sold and his continuing popularity was proven by a number of reissued albums of his work released during the 80s. He died of pneumonia at his home in September 1945.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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