History of the Ukelele  – 8th September 2014 — Mike Harrison.

Mike, who teaches music to Junior schools, brought 3 ukuleles to enter­tain us with — a small plastic sop­rano, a con­cert and a tenor. All very simple 4 stringed guitar like instru­ments. He also brought a ukulele banjo which had a cir­cu­lar frame with a raised velum sound box. There are other forms of the instru­ment such as the Baritone, & Banjelele.

The Ukulele evolved in Hawaii even though its roots are Spanish, with the influ­ence coming from  Portuguese immig­rant fur­niture makers. In 1874, the King of Hawaii pro­moted the Ukulele (which means ‘The Dancing Flea) as the National instru­ment and it became syn­onym­ous with grass skirts , Hula hula girls etc.

The sim­pli­city and easily learnt instru­ment began to catch on in the early 1900s world­wide and was taken up by such as Cliff Edwards (Ukulele Ike) who had hits with ‘Singing in the Rain’ and ‘It had to be you’,  George Formby whose big hit was ‘Leaning on a lamp post ‘ from Me and My Girl, and 2 Ton Tessy O’Shea who sang “I’ve got a luverly bunch of Coconuts” and ‘Teach the World to Sing’. The Japanese banned it at the time of WW2  for polit­ical reas­ons.

Between 1940 and 1960 there were 9 mil­lion plastic ukuleles made.

More recently, 3 of the Beatles played the ukulele.

Mike sang all the above men­tioned tunes fin­ish­ing off with Joe Browns ‘I’ll see you in my Dreams’ – a fit­ting end to an inter­est­ing morn­ing.