Inside Billboard Magazine: 1950

I’m not sure what I was looking for when I came across this Billboard magazine from 1950. I’d like to make some grand sweeping statement about the state of the culture about four years after World War II. I could say something about how the popularity of certain people reflect the times, or how the culture was shifting now that the soldiers and sailors were home, their pockets full of unspent cash built up since the Great Depression, and a wave of technological devices ready to be purchased.

Who am I, James Lileks?

Instead, I just want to point out some … well … oddities and talk about them.

Like this ad for a record.

billboard 1950

The North Korea invaded South Korea only three weeks ago, so this was someone’s rush to capitalize on the news. Unfortunately, we don’t know what the GI Joe said to the South Korean. Even YouTube doesn’t have it. But it does have the flipside, with this commentary.

“Now its time to listen to a recording with one of Americas weirder artists/personalities, Norridge Bryant Mayhams (1903-88). I did not know anything about him, haven’t even heard of him, when I found this hillbilly record, pressed in vinyl on the Co-Ed label. Mayhams was a songwriter and record company executive first and foremost, but made also some recordings using the name Norris the troubadour. As I mentioned earlier, this recording is a hillbilly song well sort of at least it is hillbilly according to the label, but Mayhams wrote all kinds of songs. He made both straight gospel tunes and raunchy blues numbers and often they were on either side of the same record. Ive read an article written by Phil Milstein in which he emphasizes this weird way of coupling record by mentioning a record that coupled Jesus will soon be coming and You’re my surfer girl forever. Weird but quite fun too.”

Let’s turn to the want ads: “Better put that bottle away before the interview, Joe. Want some Sen-Sen?”

billboard 1950

Must be a tough job if it drives phonemen to drink.

Billboard 1950 ad

No information about Ed McGreal. He pops up in a number of Billboards around this time. In 1952, he was looking for circus acts to take to South America, so he sounds like a booking agent.

At least Larry Lawrence didn’t care if you did your job drunk or not.

Finally, an ad announcing that the “Femme” Krupa is opening at the Starlight Roof at the Waldorf-Astoria.

Viola Smith ad

Viola Smith. Played everywhere and with nearly everyone. Appeared in “Here Come the Co-Eds” with Abbott and Costello. Played in “Cabaret” on Broadway. Endorsed Ludwig and Zildjian drums.

In 2012, she was interviewed for the NAMM when she was a century old. According to Wikipedia, she celebrated her 105th birthday last November.

Viola Smith then and nowPlaying drums keep you young if you’re not in a rock band or a member of Spinal Tap.