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"Two Little Boys" is a song written by American composer Theodore Morse and lyricist Edward Madden. It was written in 1902 and became a popular music hall song of the time, made popular by Harry Lauder. It describes the story of two boys who grow up to fight in the American Civil War. In 1969 it became a surprise No. 1 top selling single for entertainer Rolf Harris in the United Kingdom.

Rolf Harris[]

In 1969, it was revived by Australian entertainer Rolf Harris, who briefly visited folk musician Ted Egan during a tour of Arnhem Land in Australia. Egan sang him the song, which Harris recorded on tape. Back in the UK, Harris persuaded his television producer to incorporate the song into his BBC variety show. Harris discovered he had lost the tape and rang Egan, 10,000 miles away in Canberra, and asked him to sing the song over the phone. Alan Braden arranged the song for the TV show, and a favourable audience reaction prompted Harris to record and release it as a single. The song reached #1 on the singles chart in December 1969, where it stayed for six weeks, the song became the final number-one single of the 1960s. On BBC Radio Blackburn in 1979, Margaret Thatcher picked it as a favourite song. [1]

In October 2008, Harris announced he would re-record the song, backed by North Wales' Froncysyllte Male Voice Choir, to mark the 90th anniversary of the end of World War I.[2] Proceeds from the new release went to The Poppy Appeal.[3] Harris was inspired to make the recording after participating in My Family at War, a short series of programmes in the BBC's Remembrance season, which was broadcast in November 2008.[4] He discovered that the experiences of his father and uncle during World War I mirrored the lyrics of the Civil War song.[5]

Other versions[]

Kenny Rogers sang a version of the song while he was lead singer of the country-rock band The First Edition, which was released on their 1971 album Transition. The song was later revived in 1980 by Splodgenessabounds and reached #27 on the UK singles chart. Another version by a group of Hartlepool United fans was released as a double A-side with "Never Say Die" on the single "Poolie Pride", reaching #24 on the UK Singles Chart in 2006. Scottish duo Hue and Cry have recorded a jazz inspired version for their 2009 Xmasday album.

The song is also commonly played by Irish band The Frames during live performance of their song "Star Star**", as well as by the Canadian-Irish band The Irish Rovers on the album Children Of The Unicorn.

When being apart from the Mitchell Trio for only half a year, John Denver performed this song at the Nowhere Coffeehouse in University of Cincinnati Student Union on May 9, 1969.

In popular culture[]

A version by Roger Whittaker appears briefly in "A Pair of Charlies", an episode of Budgie, the early seventies British drama series starring Adam Faith.

A version with the names changed is sung by the character Spud in the film Trainspotting after Tommy's funeral.

The song was also featured in Yahtzee's Zero Punctuation review of Army of Two.


External links[]

Template:Start box |- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
"Sugar, Sugar" by The Archies |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|UK number one single (Rolf Harris version)
December 20, 1969-January 24, 1970 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
"Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)" by Edison Lighthouse |- |}

Template:UK Christmas No. 1s in the 1960s Template:Rolf Harris