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Elton Hayes

Elton Hayes

He sang to a small guitar

He sang songs like "The Owl and The Pussycat" (always played on Children's Favourites on the Radio) and "The Jumblies" often with illustrated drawings.

Elton Hayes mastered the sixpenny ukelele when young and had wanted to be a straight actor. However, his career turned to an interest in old English folk songs and ballads. When the war started in 1939, Elton joined the Army and became a gunner in the Royal Artillery and was posted to India. Here he contracted rheumatic fever which was tragedy for him as his fingers began to stiffen. In 1946, after taking up the guitar again, he returned to Britain and appeared on the radio show "in Town Tonight". Just how successful he was can be judged from the number of programmes in which he appeared on both radio and television. He had his own television show called 'Elton Hayes - He Sings to a Small Guitar' - the name being taken from one of his best-loved songs, 'The Owl and the Pussy Cat' ("The owl looked up to the stars above and sang to a small guitar"). He was also a regular guest on shows such as Eric Barker's "Just Fancy". and of course made many gramophone records.

Elton also appeared on the West End stage in 'The Beaux Stratagem' at the Lyric Theatre and was the special guest singer in 'The Sooty Show' at the Adelphi Theatre in 1956. After playing the part of Alan-a-Dale in the 1952 Walt Disney film of 'Robin Hood', he toured the United States and made innumerable radio and TV appearances. He even sang 'Whistle My Love' in a cowboy setting! The Small Guitar (which incidentally he bought from a junk shop and restored) accompanied him on all his travels.

In the mid '60s Elton retired from show business and began a new career as a farmer, breeding pedigree livestock. He was able to devote more time to his horses and took up carriage driving. Unfortunately, in 1995 he suffered a severe stroke and was in hospital for several months. Showing the same courage and determination that had helped him recover from rheumatic fever many years ago, Elton's health improved. Having no children, he decided to sell his show business memorabilia and move to live with friends.  Elton spent his leisure time listening to classical music, doing crosswords and enjoying the company of his friends.

Elton died in September 2001

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