Whilst the 1960's are well-recognised as a 'Golden Era' for pop music, the 1920/30's could be viewed as the very first era, as it was a time when many tunes with equally appealing pop 'hooks' and attractive and memorable melodies were written.
Correspondingly, if Bing Crosby could be thought of as the first true American popstar, then Al Bowlly could be deemed his British equivalent, as he was the first popular singer in the UK to have an ongoing mass appeal, thanks to the advent of 78rpm recordings and the emergence of radio.
Bowlly was born in Mozambique, and grew up and then initiated his musical career in South Africa during the 1920's, followed by extensive touring around the world before settling in the UK. And it was in the UK where he established his reputation as a 'crooner', providing vocals for both Ray Noble's band, and also the Roy Fox (later Lew Stone) danceband.
Tragically, Bowlly's career was cut short in 1941, when - subsequent to returning from an out-of-town performance, and sitting in bed reading a cowboy book - he was killed by a parachute mine that had silently landed then detonated outside his London home during the Blitz. He was interred in a mass grave along with many other victims of the raid (which strikes me as a little ignominious for such a popular and much-loved entertainer - such is death in wartime I guess, the ultimate leveller).
Although severe problems developed with his singing voice during his later years, due to a wart in his throat, Bowlly had during the first half of the 1930's recorded over 500 songs, and from those my homemade compilation consists of nearly twenty compositions that I'd rate at 5 stars or better, and because of that impressive track record I'm always on the look-out for more gems within the more obscure corners of his discography (quite a few notable Bowlly recordings were included in the 1970's BBC televsion series Pennies From Heaven
by Reviewer: bluemoon