The Happiness Boys

Comedy singers Billy Jones (b. William Reese Jones, 15 March 1889, New York City, New York, USA, d. 23 November 1940, New York City, New York, USA) and Ernest Hare (b. Thomas Ernest Hare, 16 March 1883,…
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Artist Biography

Comedy singers Billy Jones (b. William Reese Jones, 15 March 1889, New York City, New York, USA, d. 23 November 1940, New York City, New York, USA) and Ernest Hare (b. Thomas Ernest Hare, 16 March 1883, Norfolk, Virginia, USA, d. 9 March 1939, Jamaica, New York, USA) were heard on US radio in the 20s and they also made many recordings. Jones, a tenor, sang in vaudeville, recording under many aliases and singing in vocal groups. Hare, a bass-baritone, appeared on Broadway in Havana (1909), Up And Down Broadway (1910), The Revue Of Revues (1911), The Whirl Of Society (1912), The Passing Show Of 1912 and The Peasant Girl (1915), and The Passing Show Of 1915 and The Show Of Wonders (1917). He also understudied Al Jolson in Sinbad (1918). Hare, too, recorded under numerous names as both soloist and group member.

Jones and Hare met around 1920 and began singing together as a duo on radio. At the end of 1923 they took the name the Happiness Boys in deference to their sponsor, Happiness Candy Stores, and during the next five years they became not only very popular but also extremely well paid. Later, they sang as the Interwoven Pair, named for a new sponsor, a manufacturer of socks. By the end of the 20s their popularity was waning and their last recording as a duo came in 1930 with their last, at the time, syndicated broadcast airing in 1932. They continued to sing on local radio stations, working as the Taystee Loafers, sponsored by a bread-making company, and then in 1936 were back on network radio as the Gillette Gentlemen, sponsored by a razor manufacturer.

Among the many comic songs recorded by Jones and Hare, mostly as the Happiness Boys, are ‘All She’d Say Was “Umh Hum”’, ‘In The Little Red School House’, ‘Mr Gallagher And Mr Sheen’, ‘Barney Google’, ‘I Like It’, ‘Nestle In Your Daddy’s Arms’, ‘Hard Boiled Rose’, ‘Oh! Eva’, ‘Hinky Dinky Parlay Voo’, ‘Down Where The South Begins’, ‘How Do You Do?’, ‘I Miss My Swiss - My Swiss Miss Misses Me’ and ‘Does The Spearmint Lose Its Flavor On The Bedpost At Night?’. Often accompanied by pianist Dave Kaplan, the duo were significant members of the coterie of entertainers who helped the boom in radio in 20s America. Jones made a few silent films as Smiling Billy Jones and the duo starred in a short musical film, Down On The Barn (1938). (NB: Ernest Hare is not to be confused with the English stage, screen and television actor.)