Welcome to the new home of

Henry Burr
The First King of Pop Music

(January 15, 1882 - April 6, 1941)

Burr News:

March, 2005: A Henry Burr Anthology has just been released by Archeophone Records. It contains 27 carefully remastered tracks which span Burr's career between 1903 and 1923. The CD includes a 24 page booklet with track description and a biographical sketch of Burr written by Art Makosinski. Its a must for any Burrologist and anyone who enjoys the great music of the first three decades of the 20th century.

More news to come.....




Henry Burr used several pseudonyms in his career and recorded as:

Alfred Alexander on Pathe records

Alfred Knapp on Diva, Harmony, Velvetone

Harry Barr on Harmony

Harry Haley on Apex, Cameo

Harry McClaskey (Real name) on many....

Henry Burr on all except Edison

Henry Gillette on Aurora

Irving Gillette on Edison & Others

Lou Forbes on Crown

Robert Bruce on Empire, Operaphone, Pathe, Perfect,Emerson

Shamus McClaskey on Pathe, Emerson

Henry Burr managed and (or) at one time or another recorded with the following ensembles:

Columbia Male Quartet on Columbia

Columbia Quartet on Columbia

Croxton Quartet on Phonola-Heineman-Okeh

Croxton Trio on Phonola-Heineman-Okeh

Eight Famous Victor Artists on Victor, English Zonophone

Harmony Quartet on Harmony

Invincible Four on Pathe

Peerless Quartet on Most labels

Prince's Male Quartet on some records issued in England

Sterling Trio on most labels

Universal Male Quartet on Zonophone

Victor Minstrel Company on Victor

Victor Vaudeville Company on Victor

 

and others

Henry Burr was the pseudonym of Harry McClaskey, a world famous pop singer and recording artist of the 1902-1929 period. Credited with making over 5000 phonograph recordings for almost every record company and performing in many concerts throughout North America, this Canadian-American remains one of the most famous, and yet, one of the most forgotten recording artists of all time.

Born in Saint Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada, Harry's family moved to Saint John, New Brunswick, where Harry began his singing career as a boy tenor performing in local churches, and exhibitions. In 1901 he ventured into New York City, and found work as a church soloist. He also met Miss Kate Stella Burr, an organist and a vocal teacher, whose name he borrowed. By the fall of 1902 he became one of the recording artists for Columbia Graphophone, Edison Records, and later Victor Records. In 1905 he had a hit song with In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree. Burr was accepted into the Columbia Quartet which later became the Peerless Quartet. He became its manager in 1912. For the next 10-15 years, the Quartet and its later offshoot, the Sterling Trio, became one of the most popular recording groups in America, recording thousands of popular songs. Some estimates of the number of records issued with Burr and his ensembles (Peerless Quartet and Sterling Trio) on the label, as over 10,000.
Between 1916 and 1928, in addition to recording, Burr managed and toured the US and Canada with the Peerless Quartet, Billy Murray, and three other Victor Artists. The group was called the Eight Famous (Popular) Victor Artists and were a great success wherever they appeared.

The onset of radio, moving pictures, and jazz, outdated the sentimental style of music that Burr was familiar with and he disbanded the Quartet in October of 1928. After making several solo recordings on smaller labels, freelancing, and working for a short while at CBS, in 1934, Burr became a popular regular performer on Chicago's WLS radio programs. He died of complication associated with throat cancer and heart failure at the age of 59. Burr lies buried in an unmarked grave in an upstate New York cemetery in Kenisco.

In his early years, Burr often returned to give concerts in New Brunswick, Canada, where even today, he is still remembered and appreciated and where the home he was born in on Armstrong Street, still stands.


Henry Burr Research Project

Started in 1984 this labor of love, is an ongoing effort to document as much as possible about Burr's life and his recordings.

Two paperbacks, The Life and Times of Henry Burr, and the Preliminary Henry Burr Discography are currently being compiled. The publication date has been delayed several times as additional information trickles in, but 2005 should be it. Each book contains over 350 pages, tens of rare photographs, and is a result of much research through various archives, libraries, microfilms, personal interviews, record collections. The Life, reconstructs Burr's early life and career in New Brunswick and New York, follows him through his recording period, tours with the Eight Victor Artists, and his final work at WLS. The Discography will contain a detailed discography of over 4000 records issued with Burr, Peerless Quartet, and the Sterling Trio on over 100 labels.

The Project welcomes any information on Burr or the recordings. We are always looking for lost relatives of Harry McClaskey (Henry Burr), or relatives of any of the artists that Harry recorded with, such as Albert Campbell, Frank Croxton, Monroe Silver, Frank Banta, Sammy Hermany, and anyone who may still be alive from the WLS National Barn Dance radio broadcasts, where Burr performed from 1935 to 1941. Also of great interest are titles, matrix numbers and issue numbers of records other than Victor and Columbia.

When Henry Burr died in Chicago, his wife Cecilia McClaskey was the only remaining relatives. Cecilia died in 1954 with no siblings left behind. There, the trail seemed to end, or so it seems.

If you may have any clues, please do send us mail to art@me.uvic.ca. You will be put on the list for the bio/disco and will be notified when it becomes available.

You can look at the list of 830+ Burr records held in the project's possession. This not the discography. The PDF file can be opened with Acrobat Reader. A separate list of abbreviations is also available.


Appreciation Club

The Henry Burr Appreciation Club is dedicated to restoring the memory of this great artist, and appreciating his accomplishments. Thank you so much to the many people who have already written with words of support, encouragement, and information. One of our long term projects is to offer more recordings of Burr's 78's on CD's and to complete a documentary film about his life and music.

We also accept donation of Henry Burr records and will pick them up in the Victoria, BC, Canada, area.

Thank you.

Art Makosinski


Other sites of interest to Burrologists:

National Libray of Canada has a brief biography, several pictures, as well as downloadable audio files of many of Burr's HMV recordings nicely cleaned up.

Tim Gracyk's Home Page
is one of the most informative pages for 78's collectors and has a great article about Henry Burr. Check out the ten books that Tim has published in the field.

Canadian Antique Phonograph Society.

Wolverine Antique Music Society

Stanford Archive of Recorded Sound & links.

Association for Recorded Sound Collections.

Allan Sutton's The Mainspring Journal for vintage record collectors.

Allen Koenigsberg books for phonograph collectors.

Nipperhead Antique Phonograph Site , news, auction.

NAUCK'S VINTAGE RECORDS , a good place to buy and sell 78's, some of which could be Henry Burr's. And of course there is Ebay. Just make sure you click on "Search Descriptions" when you do a search for Burr or Peerless Quartet.

The American Gramophone and Wireless Co. has over 800 cassettes of recordings from from cylinder, disc, radio and private recordings of all types from 1886 to 1955.

And don't miss TINFOIL, which has just about everything including CD re-releases of many 78's artists.

And finally, homage should be paid to the late and great human being, artist and musicologist, Tiny Tim, who fervently sang the songs of Henry Burr and others from the twilight era, and who mentioned Burr's name at everyone of his concerts.
God Bless you Tiny Tim, wherever you are.


Record restoration systems and 78's turntables:

Turntables, noise reduction form KAB

Turntables, noise reduction from Esoteric Sound

Cedar Audio Restoration Systems (the best at restoring, but don't ask for the price)

Last modified on March 21, 2005