Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Devoted Formby Fan's Collection Up for Auction

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Devoted Formby Fan's Collection Up for Auction

Article excerpt

Byline: TONY HENDERSON Reporter

GEORGE Formby's ukulele, cheery smile and witty songs won him a huge following - and few were as dedicated as one Tyneside fan.

George Johnson, who died last summer aged 91, amassed a huge array of Formby memorabilia over 60 years, including two ukuleles used by the singer.

One of the ukuleles was played by George Formby in the film that launched his career in 1934, titled Boots! Boots! in which Formby performed three songs with it, including Why Don't Women Like Me? The film, shot on a budget of PS3,000, took PS80,000 at the box office and catapulted Formby to fame, making him the country's best-paid entertainer by 1939.

It led to 11 more films, two of which - Off the Dole and No Limit - featured the Keech ukulele later owned by George Johnson.

Mr Johnson also owned a Dallas model D ukulele-banjo used on stage by Formby which he bought direct from the star's wife, Beryl Formby, in 1952 - with handwritten correspondence from her to prove it.

Both instruments will be sold by Derbyshire's Hansons Auctioneers on March 19. The one used on stage has an estimate of PS10,000-PS12,000 while the ukulele used in the films has a guide price of PS5,000-PS7,000.

In 2017, a George Formby banjolele sold for PS28,500 at Hansons Auctioneers.

Mr Johnson lived in Bensham and Harlow Green in Gateshead, and worked at Raey Gearworks in Oakwellgate in the town.

He owned a total of seven vintage ukuleles and Formby memorabilia including 78 records, videos, cassettes, magazines, and sheet music, which will also be sold.

Claire Howell, music memorabilia expert at Hansons, said: "This collection is extraordinary. Mr Johnson must have been one of George Formby's biggest fans - if not the biggest. To own two of his ukuleles and correspond with his wife shows he went the extra mile to celebrate his admiration for one of Britain's biggest stars. …

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