Harold Glenn

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In the Roaring Twenties, Harold Glenn was known as the "California Whistler" and was one of a number of talented novelty virtuosos whose accomplishments were on sale, promoted heavily by a consortium…
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In the Roaring Twenties, Harold Glenn was known as the "California Whistler" and was one of a number of talented novelty virtuosos whose accomplishments were on sale, promoted heavily by a consortium which included railway companies as well as the more expected radio stations. As a performer, expectations were always very high for the likes of Glenn, representing a stark contrast to what the pop music scene would evolve some seven decades later. Glenn and his contemporaries would have been disgusted at the notion of music largely created by producers in studios, and stars who are apparently unable to actually perform it live. There was no lip-syncing for the California Whistler when he landed a coveted slot on WAAM or WMCA in New York City. He had to show up perfectly ready to pucker and render a completely in-tune version of some show stopper, perhaps the "William Tell Overture."

A typical revue circa the mid-'20s featured Glenn in tandem with acts such as Helen Bourne, the Maryland Nightingale and Joe Davis, later to become a famous record producer and publisher but at this point nothing more than the "Melody Man." Times may have changed, but the popularity of whistling hasn't. Even Glenn's old stage name of "California Whistler" has been appropriated by a performer named George Oldfield. He is one of the standard bearers in an art form which has many positive attributes above and beyond the wonderful fact that nobody has to carry any equipment around. In terms of old-school whistlers, Glenn gets a few demerits for having a boring name: other titans of tweet include Muzzy Marcellino and Mohan Kulkarni.