Apologies for having spent the last month missing in action, but I'm back with a real belter for you, Elton Britt's missive to the blood transfusion service, Korean Mud. A real rarity, this 78 (originally backed with a track called The Unknown Soldier) is one of the scant few songs released about America's involvement in the Korean war - and one of a surprisingly small number to deal with the subject of donating blood.
But Elton Britt, who he? James Elton Baker, to give the man his full name, was born in 1913 in Arkansas. A sickly child, Elton was plagued
by illness all his life, so much so that his parents didn't bother to name him until he was a full year old, giving him the middle name of Elton after the doctor who had spent so much time keeping him alive.
The Bakers were a musical family: young Elton started playing guitar at age ten and later, greatly impressed by the records of Jimmie Rodgers, he also taught himself how to yodel. His first chance at stardom came in 1930 when he joined the Beverly Hillbillies, a popular group (rather than the 60s TV show), acquiring his new surname on the way. An unlucky soul, his
first wife, Margaret (who he married in 1934) died
in an automobile accident less than a year into their marriage. The following year he wed
Jeannie Russell, who died
two days after the birth of their second child in 1937. Luckily his third and fourth wives seemed to have been made of stronger stuff and did not meet such unpleasant ends.
In 1937 Britt signed with RCA Victor, where
he remained until 1956. During this time he cut something like 600 tracks and released more than 60 albums;
e appeared in a couple of
The Last Dogie (1933) and
In 1960 he
retired from music to stand for the Democratic Party although Britt
returned to the entertainment world shortly after. He died in 1972 after
heart attack while driving
Still, here's Elton at his very best - or worst - singing Korean Mud. Enjoy