Henry Burr

Henry Burr, Harry Haley McClaskey real name ( born January 15, 1882 in Saint Stephen, New Brunswick, † April 6, 1941 in Chicago ) was a Canadian singer and performer of contemporary popular music of the early 20th century as well as a radio host and producer. His voice was tenor. He has performed under numerous other pseudonyms such as Irving Gillette, Henry Gillette, Alfred Alexander, Robert Rice, Carl Ely, Harry Barr, Frank Knapp, Al King, and Shamus McClaskey. He was one of the first musicians recorded the popular contemporary music, and is considered one of the most prolific artists of all time with probably well over 12,000 sound recordings. He arrived with 24 singles No. 1 on the U.S. Top 100 As a tenor, he appeared as a soloist and in various formations, the most famous was the Peerless Quartet.

Childhood and youth

Harry McClaskey, was born in the border town of Saint Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada, the youngest of four children of AA McClaskey, owner of a sweets and tobacco shop and his wife Ida, nee Connors. Was recognized early his singing talent and five years, he first appeared in public in St. Stephen on. With 10 years was with his interpretation of the song Her Eyes Do not Shine Like Diamonds the mascot of Saint John Bicycle and Athletic Club in nearby Saint John, at age 13, he joined as a young tenor with the Artillery Band on in Saint John, where his family had moved in the meantime. Perhaps for doubt that he can make a career with his music, he enrolled at Mount Allison University in Sackville and worked in a shop of his father. On April 14, 1901, he graduated at the Opera House in Saint John his first major concert with the Scottish soprano Jessie MacLachlan. On October 30, 1901, he was discovered by Giuseppe Campanari, baritone at the Metropolitan Opera, as those completed an appearance in the St. John Opera House. Campanari urged that McClaskey should go to New York City, there to receive a musical education.

Career as a musician

Encouraged by Campanaris recognition, McClaskey 1902 moved to New York where he took singing lessons and sang in the choir of Grace Methodist Episcopal Church. Finally, he was tenor soloist of the choir. His teachers included John Dennis Meehan and Kate Stella Burr, in whose honor he later his stage name Henry Burr accepted.

By 1902 he began recording music for Columbia Records and first used the pseudonym Henry Burr. The circumstances were favorable for him because of the Columbia - star tenor George J. Gaskin was nearing the end of his career. In November 1904 he began recording under the pseudonym Irving Gillette for Edison Records. Differences with the management meant that he no further recordings for Edison -actuated more after October 1914. On January 4, 1905, he took up the first time for the Victor Talking Machine Company, the recordings were released in March of the same year. On April 7, 1905, he took on Egbert Van Alstynes ​​In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree, which became his first number - one hit and helped him gain great popularity. In the same year it was recorded by Billy Murray. Burr was a very successful artist who recorded thousands of songs for different labels under different pseudonyms. He worked for Leeds Talk -O -Phone, Imperial Records, Busy Bee Records and the American Record Company.


1906 Burr was a member of the Columbia Male Quartet, worked as second tenor under the management of Frank C. Stanley for Columbia Records. After the group was changed to Victor, she changed her name to Peerless Quartet. After the death of Stanley in 1910, Burr took over the management of the group. Under various names and in various occupations, the group was active until its dissolution in 1928. Burr was also a member of other musical groups like the Metropolitan Trio and the Manhattan Mixed Trio, where he played with Frank C. Stanley and Elise Stevenson.

Commercial Activity

From 1915 he was financially taken care of and looked for ways to invest his money. Together with Fred Van Eps, he founded the Paroquette Record Manufacturing Company in New York City. Paroquette customized vertical font plates with his own recordings as well as recordings of several other artists. In a highly competitive market, the system of Paroquette and the company failed in 1917 closed. Burr also tried his hand as a music publisher and was next to Van Eps short time part owner of a factory that manufactured banjos.


During the broadcast technology was still in its infancy, Burr was already live on the radio. His first radio appearance was in 1920 in Denver, Colorado, where he used a makeshift microphone consisting of a wooden ball and a telephone receiver. The mission was to receive up to San Francisco. Burr is attributed to have contested the first transcontinental " broadcast", in which he sang in New York City into a phone while guests a dinner in a Rotary Club in California listening through headphones. Also in 1920, he signed an exclusive contract with Victor for seven years, which made him for a time to a wealthy man.

In the late 1920s, his career was over after electrical recording process and the crooning arose, which was performed by singers such as Gene Austin and Al Bowlly. Since he was interested the commercial potential of radio, he founded in 1928 Henry Burr Inc., with whom he produced radio programs. So created numerous programs for commercial radio in the 1930s. Burr founded the Cities Service Concerts, which he produced for two years.

In October 1929, he probably lost a large portion of its assets in the Black Thursday. A month later he was appointed head of the art department at CBS, which had just been taken over by the new owner, William S. Paley. By 1935, he was heard again on the radio in the National Barn Dance show by Chicago radio station WLS that Saturday evening was broadcast on the NBC. Soon he became a solo artist of the show and remained there for five years until shortly before his death. He died on April 6, 1941 in Chicago of throat cancer and is buried next to his stepdaughter Marguarite in Mount Vernon, where he last lived. He is survived by his wife Cecilia.