Ernest Hare

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The partnership of this baritone singer and a tenor named Billy Jones was exceedingly popular on radio in the '20s and '30s. The duo of Ernest Hare and Billy Jones can also be said to be one of the first…
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Artist Biography by

The partnership of this baritone singer and a tenor named Billy Jones was exceedingly popular on radio in the '20s and '30s. The duo of Ernest Hare and Billy Jones can also be said to be one of the first performing acts to have "hit records," the quotation marks used to suggest the novelty of the notion in the earliest days of the recording industry, not to demean the business the pair did at the sales counter. That was brisk enough to nab them a perpetual spot on lists of the 200 or so biggest hit records of all time. Thus, the duo's name of the Happiness Boys could have applied to themselves, their employers, and their fanatic audience. Actually, the name came from a radio sponsor in 1923, the Happiness Candy Store. Thanks to a previous sponsor, a sock company, the duo had also been known as the Interwoven Pair. Hare and Jones also performed together under a long list of other stage names.

Thomas Alva Edison certainly doesn't need credits as a record company A&R rep to have made history, but it was his decision to put out sides by the pair on his fledgling Edison recording enterprise. Soon the hits rolled, including "In the Little Red School House," "Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Shean," and "Barney Google." Rising to the ranks of the most highly compensated people in radio to open their mouths and let a song ring forth, Hare was pulling in a big $1,250 a week. It was a lot more than he had pulled in back in 1919 and 1920 when he was Al Jolson's understudy in Sinbad. Hare's career continued taking twists and turns through various vocal groups such as the Crescent Trio and the Premier Quartet, in which he replaced Billy Murray. On his own, Hare recorded under a mind-boggling list of pseudonyms. Records by Bob Thomas, Wallace Daniels, Arthur Grant, Henry Jones, Robert Judson, Walter Lang, Walter Leslie, Roy Roberts, Bob Thompson, "Hobo" Jack Turner, and Frank Mann are actually just a little bit of the Hare off the dog that bit the recording stylus.