Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Alan Smethurst: the singing postman from Norfolk



Literary Norfolk tells the sad story of Alan Smethurst, the singing postman:
Allan Smethurst (aka The Singing Postman) was born in Bury in Lancashire on November 18th, 1927 - but at the age of two his family moved to Sheringham in North Norfolk. They lived at 48, Cliff Road and the town would later feature in one of his lyrics: 'I am a Shannock, I wor a Shannock'. 
Smethurst's mother was originally from Stiffkey and so he was exposed to the Norfolk accent from birth. He also spent many childhood holidays in the village and could vividly recall the burying there of Rev Harold Davidson (the prostitute's padre) in 1937. 
It wasn't until he was 21 that he taught himself to play the guitar - inspired by the likes of Jimmie Rodgers, George Formby and Frank Crummit; his stage name was actually inspired by Rodgers' the 'Singing Brakeman'. 
Smethurst sent a demo tape to Ralph Tuck who compered a regional radio programme called 'Wednesday Morning' and soon after Tuck set up his own recording company and produced Smethurst's first record - which appeared in 1964. 
Hev Yew Gotta Loight, Boy? rose to number 7 in the national charts and for a brief period the Singing Postman was outselling both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.
But it didn't last. Smethurst was crippled with stage fright, turned to drink and spent his last years in a Salvation Army hostel in Grimsby. He died in 2000.

This video features some of his songs and some nice shots of East Anglia 50 years ago. But as it has him doing a postal round in Suffolk, it is obviously heavily staged.

No comments: