The very first record I can recall listening to was way back in the 1950s .. and it was an old English 78 RPM disc called "The Teddy Bear's Picnic" by Jay Wilbur. Somehow this record found its way into our home and I can remember listening to that disc over and over again. The Teddy Bear song was on the B-side and it sort of sounded like something from the 1930s ... and I believe it was in fact recorded in the 1930s ... and add to that the record had a very dark theme to me at that young age !!! After doing a little digging, I discovered that Jay Wilbur was a British dance band leader who achieved fame in England in the 1930s and that his band often performed for the Allied troops during World War II. The actual vocalist was a young man named Val Rosing. It is possible that my father first heard Jay Wilbur And His Band when he was overseas with the British Army during the war.
The London 45 was advertised in the USA magazine Billboard on November 13th., 1948 as a 78 RPM 10 inch disc with the London catalogue number No. 353. It was later issued in 1951 as a 45 with the number 30016.￼
Ann Stephens was a child actor in England and was born on May 21st., 1931 in London. At age 11 she appeared as a girl named Lavinia in the Noel Coward film "In Which We Serve". Ann was just nine years old when she recorded the song Teddy Bear's Picnic and this of course was during World War II. It was issued in England on 78 RPM as HMV B.D.1090. It seems odd now that people were buying this 78 RPM disc at the height of the "doodle bug" V1 rocket bombings in London. Perhaps for the many children who were evacuated to the country from London …￼ ￼
This is the text from the back cover of the "Children's Choice" HMV Ep:
"… Such a child was Ann Stephens, heard on this record as quite a young girl when this was originally put on disc some years ago. Ann was an H.M.V. record discovery, for when they needed an Alice for their Alice in Wonderland Series in 1941 Ann was the successful applicant out of some 700 who were auditioned by the company. Her debut on record was successful and instantaneous, and her natural, untrained voice endeared her to a nation and led to her being offered several film parts. That the company made a wise choice in their audition is proved, and the records she made so many years ago will always demonstrate the freshness, simplicity and appeal that can come from a voice so fresh and young. ... Mervyn Douglas "
Paul White would have been involved in the release of the Capitol version in 1962. He had much success with the mining of EMI's vaults in England with the Freddy Gardner album based on requests from Canadian music fans ... perhaps this one had also been requested for a few times ? The disc was issued as Capitol 72057 and the B-side was "Christopher Robin (At Buckingham Palace)". This was clearly a record for children and a special picture sleeve was created for it, using a picture of Ann Stephens that was most probably taken when she was nine years old in 1941 ... "they're changing guard at Buckingham Palace .. Christopher Robin went down with Alice …"
Special thanks to Jamie Anstey of Vancouver for providing the image of the picture sleeve and the disc. In July 1964, Capitol of Canada would release an Lp called Alice In Wonderland (Capitol JAO-6077 mono only) which also featured Ann Stephens.