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Len Spencer

Leonard Garfield Spencer (February 12, 1867 – December 15, 1914) was an early American recording artist. He began recording for the Columbia Phonograph Company, in 1889 or 1890. Between 1892 and 1897 he recorded extensively for the New Jersey Phonograph Company and its successor the United States Phonograph Company. He specialized in vaudeville sketches and comic songs, but also sang sentimental ballads popular at the time. He returned to Columbia in 1898 for an exclusive contract then began recording for Berliner Gramophone (disc) records in 1899 and continued with Victor and Columbia as discs became the dominant format in the early 1900s.

He began performing with banjoist Vess L. Ossman in 1901 and with Ada Jones in 1905. He is best remembered today for his vaudeville-style comic sketches, such as the "Arkansaw Traveler", combining clever turns of phrase, ironic elocutionary delivery, sound effects and music to create colorful dialogues featuring itinerant Southerners, auctioneers, circus barkers, and Irish, Jewish or Black Americans.

As the popularity of Len's style of humor waned in the latter part of the decade, he opened a booking agency called "Len Spencer's Lyceum" in New York. He died of a heart attack while working at the Lyceum on December 15, 1914.

Birth and Death Data: Born 1867 (Washington, D.C.), Died 1914 (New York City)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1896 - 1925

Roles Represented in DAHR: speaker, author, baritone vocal, performer, composer, adapter

Recordings (Results 226-250 of 812 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor B-1198 10-in. 4/7/1904 Reuben Haskins' trip 'round the world Parke Hunter ; Len Spencer Descriptive scene, with banjo speaker, author  
Victor C-1198 12-in. 4/7/1904 Reuben Haskins' trip around the world in his air-ship Parke Hunter ; Len Spencer Descriptive scene, with banjo speaker, author  
Victor B-1246 10-in. 4/21/1904 Uncle Jim's race track story Len Spencer Monologue, with band speaker  
Victor B-1428 10-in. 6/7/1904 Auction sale of household goods Gilbert Girard ; Len Spencer Descriptive scene, with piano speaker, author  
Victor B-1429 10-in. 6/7/1904 Pawnbroker's sale Len Spencer Descriptive scene, with piano speaker  
Victor A-1558 7-in. 7/6/1904 C-H-I-C-K-E-N: Dat's how to spell 'chicken' Len Spencer Male vocal solo vocalist, baritone vocal  
Victor B-1558 10-in. 7/6/1904 C-H-I-C-K-E-N: Dat's how to spell 'chicken' Len Spencer Male vocal solo vocalist, baritone vocal  
Victor A-1562 7-in. 7/7/1904 Reuben Haskin from Skowhegan Len Spencer Monologue, with piano speaker, author  
Victor B-1562 10-in. 7/7/1904 Reuben Haskin from Skowhegan Len Spencer Monologue, with piano speaker, author  
Victor A-1596 7-in. 7/13/1904 The little old log cabin in the lane Vess L. Ossman ; Len Spencer Male vocal solo, with banjo vocalist, baritone vocal  
Victor B-1596 10-in. 7/13/1904 The little old log cabin in the lane Vess L. Ossman ; Len Spencer Male vocal solo, with banjo vocalist, baritone vocal  
Victor A-1597 7-in. 7/13/1904 My girl from Dixie Vess L. Ossman ; Len Spencer Male vocal solo, with banjo vocalist, baritone vocal  
Victor B-1597 10-in. 7/13/1904 My girl from Dixie Vess L. Ossman ; Len Spencer Male vocal solo, with banjo vocalist, baritone vocal  
Victor A-1598 7-in. 7/13/1904 Coon, coon, coon Vess L. Ossman ; Len Spencer Male vocal solo, with banjo vocalist, baritone vocal  
Victor B-1598 10-in. 7/13/1904 Coon, coon, coon Vess L. Ossman ; Len Spencer Male vocal solo, with banjo vocalist, baritone vocal  
Victor A-1599 7-in. 7/13/1904 Hot times on the levee Vess L. Ossman ; Len Spencer Male vocal solo, with banjo vocalist, baritone vocal, composer  
Victor B-1599 10-in. 7/13/1904 Hot times on the levee Vess L. Ossman ; Len Spencer Male vocal solo, with banjo vocalist, baritone vocal, composer  
Victor A-1600 7-in. 7/13/1904 The nigger and the bee Vess L. Ossman ; Len Spencer Male vocal solo, with banjo vocalist, baritone vocal  
Victor B-1600 10-in. 7/13/1904 The nigger and the bee Vess L. Ossman ; Len Spencer Male vocal solo, with banjo vocalist, baritone vocal  
Victor A-1627 7-in. 7/20/1904 Stella Harry Tally Male vocal solo, with piano composer  
Victor B-1627 10-in. 7/20/1904 Stella Harry Tally Male vocal solo, with piano composer  
Victor B-1680 10-in. 9/12/1904 'Round the camp fire Haydn Quartet Male vocal quartet author  
Victor C-1680 12-in. 9/12/1904 Round the camp-fire Haydn Quartet Male vocal quartet author  
Victor B-1696 10-in. 9/21/1904 Down the pike Arthur Pryor's Band Band author  
Victor B-1697 10-in. 9/22/1904 Our national airs Arthur Pryor's Orchestra ; Len Spencer Recitation, with orchestra and cheers speaker  
(Results 226-250 of 812 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Spencer, Len," accessed October 24, 2021, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/106197.

Spencer, Len. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved October 24, 2021, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/106197.

"Spencer, Len." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 24 October 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/106197

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