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Macdonough, Harry (John S. MacDonald)

Macdonough, Harry (John S. MacDonald)

Macdonough, Harry (John S. MacDonald), leading tenor of the early recording era and top recording artist in the U.S. during the first decade of the 20th century; b. Ontario, March 30, 1871; d. Sept. 26, 1931. Macdonough began his career as a musical comedy performer on Broadway during the 1880s and 1890s, then began to record for the Edison and Berliner labels in the late 1890s. He was an original member of the Edison Male Quartet, which scored a hit with Stephen Foster’s “My Old Kentucky Home” (1898) before the group changed its name to the Haydn Quartet. With the Haydn Quartet, Macdonough sang lead on such hits as “Bedalia” (1904), “Blue Bell” (1904), and “Sunbonnet Sue” (1908). He was also a member of the Lyric Quartet and the Orpheus Quartet (billed as Harry Macdonough and the Orpheus Quartet on its biggest hit, “Turn Back the Universe and Give Me Yester Day” in 1916).

Like most Victor artists, Macdonough sang with the Victor Light Opera Co. He was heard on the hits “In the Good Old Summer Time” (1903) by Sousa’s Band, “Smiles” (1918) by John C. Smith’s Orch., and “Till We Meet Again” (1919) by Nicholas Orlando’s Orch. But his greatest success came as a solo performer. He made nearly a hundred hit records between 1899 and 1918; the most successful included “Tell Me, Pretty Maiden” (1901) (with Grace Spencer), “Shine On, Harvest Moon” (1909) (with “Miss Walton,” probably Elise Stevenson), “Where the River Shannon Flows” (1910), “Down by the Old Mill Stream” (1911), and “They Didn’t Believe Me” (1915) (with Alice Green, actually Olive Kline).

After World War I, Macdonough retired from singing and became a record company executive.

—William Ruhlmann

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