b. 5 December 1861, Liverpool, England, d. 27 July 1938. Growing up in the USA, where his family emigrated when he was eight-years-old, Thornton was raised in Boston. He worked there as a singing waiter before moving to New York to do much the same kind of thing. He married the singer Lizzie Cox, who inspired him to write many of his best songs. Unfortunately, Thornton’s songwriting was interrupted by bouts of serious drinking which were themselves interspersed with periods drying out in New York’s Bellevue Hospital. For a while Thornton worked in vaudeville in a double act with Charles Lawlor. Thornton’s wife popularized some of his songs in her vaudeville act, among them ‘My Sweetheart’s The Man In The Moon’ and ‘When You Were Sweet Sixteen’. This last song was a huge popular success, sheet music sales running into a fortune. Sadly, Thornton’s drinking habits frequently led him to sell his work outright for ready cash. This was the case with ‘Sweet Sixteen’ which, in fact, he sold to two different publishers at the same time, netting a grand total of $40 and a law suit. Thornton’s sentimental ballads fell out of favour and although he had minor successes with ‘The Bridge Of Sighs’, ‘On The Benches In The Park’ and ‘There’s A Mother Waiting For You At Home, Sweet Home’ his days as a songwriter waned after the turn of the century.
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