Skip to content
Call 01482 326525
The Story Of George Formby, the Superstar Of His Day With A Ukulele

The Story Of George Formby, the Superstar Of His Day With A Ukulele

There are some instruments that several great musicians are associated with; everyone with a deep interest in music can name who they think the greatest guitarists, finest pianists or best drummers have been.

However, if you are looking to buy a ukulele in the UK, it is likely there is only one man whose name will be on your lips: George Formby.

This is the man of whom loads of old footage exists, strumming away on a ukulele or banjo, singing a range of tunes that were often rather risqué for his time, with his performing career lasting from 1921 to 1961.

Among the famous tunes that he played while strumming his ukulele were classics like the smutty ‘When I’m Cleaning Windows’, or his euphemistic ‘With My Little Stick of Blackpool Rock’, which actually got him banned by the BBC.

Born George Hoy Booth in Wigan in 1904, Formby was one of seven children of the comedian George Formby Senior, who had not wanted any of them to follow him into showbiz. Thus George Junior was to start out as an apprentice jockey, but gave that up in 1921 as he was too heavy and his father had died. With nobody left to object, George set out to build a career on stage.

He had modest success as an actor in his early years, until he bought a ukulele from a fellow actor and played it for a bet during a show in Barnsley. The performance won rave reviews and a star was born.

Switching his stage name from Hoy to Formby, his career went from strength to strength, secured him an OBE in 1946 and carried on until he died after a second heart attack in 1961 at the age of 56.

More than 60 years have passed since he was last on stage, but even today George Formby is the go-to man for ukulele inspiration.

Previous article The Strange Story Of The Quad Guitar
Next article Three Exceptionally Unusual Custom Guitars