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Alf Pearson

Past King Rat

Rats Register No. 474.

Initiated into the Order on: 12 October 1947

Proposer : Dave Jackley. Seconder: Seth Jee

Offices held:
Trap Guard (1950)
Collecting Rat (1951)
Bait Rat (1952 & 1980)
Asst. Scribe (1981)
Test Rat (1982)
Scribe Rat (1984-85)
Prince Rat (1996)
King Rat (1997)
Past King Rat Alf Pearson finally succumbed on 7 July 2012 at the grand old age of 102. He and his brother Bob worked together for an amazing 57 years. They sang all sorts of songs, always introduced by their short signature tune: 'We bring you melodies from out of the sky / My brother and I.'

They inherited their musicianship from their mother, a contralto, who sang under her delightful maiden name, Emily Smiles. Their father was a builder and they began their working lives as plasterers.

In their spare time, they appeared with amateur concert parties in and around their home town, Sunderland, but, when their father won a big contract to work on houses being built on the Kingston bypass, the family moved to Surrey.

They continued to fulfil engagements and made their first broadcast for the BBC from Savoy Hill in 1929. Then, Emily entered them for a talent contest. The first prize was a recording contract with Columbia Records. They sang 'Ol' Man River' and 'Singing in the Rain' and won.

At the time, a rather more famous double act, Layton and Johnstone, were two of Columbia's star recording artists and so they were handed over to a subsidiary label, Regal Zonophone. But they failed to agree with the way Regal Zonophone wanted them to sing and walked out.

Not long after, the music publisher, Bert Feldman, heard them and was sufficiently impressed to concoct an effective publicity stunt. They were asked to see Feldman?s manager, Frank Ruebens, and were told he would have 'something for them'.

When they arrived, they found a room packed with journalists alongside the bandleader, Jack Hylton. The press were told that Ruebens had heard two plasterers singing while they were working and was so struck by their talent that he introduced them to Hylton, who was going to sign them up with his band.

Nearly every paper carried the story and Bob and Alf were on their way to fame. They took a show round all the major theatres, they played summer seasons in Blackpool, they had their own television series and they were featured in Ted Ray's radio series, Ray's a Laugh.

In 1985, Bob and Alf sang their last medley together on Harry Secombe's television show, Highway. Bob died ten weeks later.

Richard Anthony Baker
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