Singing the Blues

Illustration © The Estate of John David Roberts. Reproduced with the permission of the William Roberts Society. Catalogue information based on the catalogue raisonné by David Cleall. For this and full details of the exhibitions cited, see the links below. Any auction prices quoted may not include all fees and taxes, such as VAT and Artist's Resale Right charges.

Singing the Blues

Singing the Blues, 1956–7
Pencil, 13.0 cm x 10.0 cm, on the back of a fragment of paper printed with the letterhead of William Johnstone OBE, Central School of Arts and Crafts

Johnstone was principal of the Central School – where Roberts taught a life class – from 1947 to 1960, and was made an OBE in 1954. In 1956–7 Melvin Endsley's song 'Singing the Blues' provided UK hit records for Guy Mitchell and for Tommy Steele and the Steelmen. Roberts may have been unable to avoid hearing these records, and in this sketch may be expressing a preference for an earlier song, actually titled 'Singin' the Blues', by J. Russel Robinson, Con Conrad, Sam M. Lewis and Joe Young, which had been a jazz standard since the 1920s
PROVENANCE: Roberts family > family friend > Osborne Samuel Gallery
EXHIBITION HISTORY: Reading 1983, Cambridge 1985 (where said that 'It may date from as early as 1921/22 … ')

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