Famous stars of the 20s & 30s, Layton & Johnstone were the most popular of all duettists. Here is the cream of their repertoire.
There was a great vogue for duettists at the piano in the pre-war decades, but top of the list was the redoubtable black American duo of Turner Layton (1894-1978) and Clarence “Tandy” Johnstone (1885-1953). They teamed up and came to London in 1923, becoming so well-liked that they rapidly developed into immensely popular radio stars, and made a vast number of recordings. Between 1924 and 1935 it is estimated that they sold over ten million records. After a scandal (Johnstone was cited in the divorce action of a white couple) Johnstone then went back to America, becoming impoverished, while Layton stayed on, enjoying great solo success. In 1993 their story was made into an award-winning radio play After You’ve Gone (with Lenny Henry as Johnstone).
Bye-Bye, Blackbird (a special hit for them) is the title of Retrospective’s programme of 28 of Layton & Johnstone’s finest recordings. With Layton playing the slightly stride-influenced piano accompaniment, the pair pleasantly harmonise their way through a good-natured selection of the very best popular songs of the 20s and 30s. They give distinctively polished performances of such evergreens as Always, Blue Moon, Charmaine, Little White Lies and I’m Getting Sentimental Over You.