Monday, January 12, 2015

A Big Birthday!

I think a few of you may know who's birthday it is to-day!

That's right! It's Leonard G. Spencer's 148th birthday! Born in 1867!
He would be flattered to know that there are still people who remember and appreciate his recordings and accomplishments a hundred years after his death. He did a whole lot more than most people credit him for, he was really one of the first musical business entrepreneurs. Aside from a recording artist, he was all of these things:
an inventor, minstrel man, minstrel troupe manager, dramatic performer, elocutionist, amateur film-maker, record salesman, author, pianist, arranger, recording engineer, FreeMason(also a member of several other groups similar to this)
This is all I can remember at the moment, but there were a few more things I would put here, but i cannot pull them out of my brain. He certainly was the most broad of all the earliest earliest recording artists, in the fact that he had very progressive ideas, and in many different fields, from business, to art, to politics. He was quite a ladies' man, always having the best of luck with the women, even if his first wife died only a few years after they married in 1885(yes, 1885, he was only 18!), he was single for a year after her death, so that must have been an interesting year...
He came from the most interesting background of all the early recording artists, as I have explained on this blog previously, his parents must have forced the best possible education on the three Spencer children. And yes, Len DID have a younger sister! And most old record collectors know of Len's younger brother "Harry" Spencer who was also a somewhat prominent recording artist, who just followed along behind Len in the recording business, and found that the amount of "pies" Len had his fingers in was enough, after Len died in 1914, Harry ran the business he kept at the time, and couldn't understand how he could handle the amount of work he had, it was just too much a single person could take.
After his first wife died in 1891(Margaret Agnes Kaiser), he remarried a nineteen-year-old Elizabeth Norris in 1892, and apparently, they were separated until about 1895, where shortly after they legally remarried, they had their first child together. Here's a list of Spencer's children, who were all girls by the way!:
Sara Allen Spencer(1887-1891)
Myrtle Lincoln Spencer Allen(1895-1921)
Constance Spencer (c.1896-98)
Ethel Leonora Spencer Yarbray(1898-1981)
Clara Barton Spencer(1902-1965)

Lucky man! he lived in a household with all women!
He was such a busy man in the recording studio, so he reportedly didn't see his family too often, but he did move them all a few times from Washington to Coney Island. Ethel Spencer reported most of the information that is known to-day about Spencer to Jim Walsh in the 1940's, but she didn't dare to say the negative things that she would have seen in Len when she was a child, as it was a societal custom not to release negative information about a prominent member of any community, but i'm sure that she told Walsh pretty much everything, even some negative points. The negative points that she told Walsh were not written down due to his old styled ways of not releasing negative information.
To how aged and "beat up" his face looks in the few photographs of him, it looks very much like he was a smoker, and it has been documented that he was some drinker. he must have also at least tried out the drugs that were "in" at this time period as well, not to just be purely negative here...

But he is an interesting character to fathom, rather "freakishly large"(as my father calls him and Fred. Hylands) at about 6 foot two or three, and at around 250 pounds in 1899(Thank you Phonoscope!), with a practically colourless complexion always white as snow, long hands and fingers, wild hair black as jet with strands of pure gray and white, a perfect dandy figure, thick and dark black eyebrows, and of course, had the most deep and mesmerizing blue-green eyes, which a single look from him was said to have been like a hit to the face.
His female-oriented energy must have been a somewhat awkward "vibe" that many of his friends in the recording business must have found VERY unusual, those like George J. Gaskin or J. W. Myers must have treated him as a friend, but also a a major eccentric, as he could be identified as that in his day. They all knew it. But they couldn't boss him around, he was the type that had to get his way, or he would be PISSED!
Hey if, I were one of his fellows, I would be somewhat afraid of him, but also very kind and friendly to him.

He was a true wild gentleman who will never be forgotten, as long as music is in existence. 
His baritone voice shall live on forever.
(even with all his negativities) 
I hope you all enjoyed this!

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