Sunday, January 18, 2015

George J. Gaskin (1863-1920)

"The Tobacco Chewing Tenor", Mr. George J. Gaskin.
heh, before I found this picture of him, I didn't realize that after 1900 he was slightly on the heavier side, never coulda' guessed!

As Gaskin's birthday was a few days ago I though I should do a post on him. Now, Gaskin has never really been one of my top ten, but he's one of the "big three" of the 1890's, who are often listed as George J. Gaskin, Dan W. Quinn and Len Spencer(and in that very order as well). He made the most records of any of the singers of the 1890's, his record count goes well over a thousand, and he was just as busy as the other two of the three, but his devotion to this business didn't kill him(like Len Spencer). Even though he could have lived longer,(he died in 1920) I'm sure if he didn't have the "Jones" for tobacco, I'm sure he would have lived at least as long as Dan Quinn. 

Gaskin was a typical Irishman of his day, but he was from a little more of a middle class Irish family, as the Irish were often treated as horribly as the blacks in the 1880's and 90's. Gaskin was not just a recording artist, as to a few obscure accounts, he was a skilled carpenter aside from his duties as a recording artist. And he said himself that if the phonograph had not been invented, that's what he'd be doing, back in Ireland, as he was born there.
Gaskin was the type of man who indulged himself in the sporting life of the 1890's, similar to Len Spencer and Russell Hunting(but Hunting was wise about it) As you can see in comparing the picture of Gaskin above to the one below:
he looks like almost a different person in this one compared to the other one from a little after 1900. The one directly above sees him as more of a small and slightly meek-looking tenor. The one directly above is from 1896.
And the first picture sees him as a big and powerful man, much like Hylands or Spencer. And it's only about five years of a difference of these two pictures, and he seemed to have changed quite a good amount in that relatively short time.
Gaskin was mostly known for singing Irish songs, but he was also a minstrel performer(not the best mimic if ya ask me...) as he recorded several of George Evans' tunes(often known as George "Honey Boy" Evans) in the late 1890's, but after 1900, Gaskin's recording was less frequent, he was still recording, but not nearly as much as he was in 1897. Even when he disappeared from the recording business by 1906, he must have still been in Vaudeville, possibly picking up work from the several friends of his who were booking agents. By this time, Gaskin had mounds of money, so he hadn't much to worry about. he did attempt to record a few things in 1915 and 1916 however, but these records are very obscure and didn't really get very far. So as I've said, he died not much longer after these records were sold, so he certainly could have lived longer than he did. That's what becomes of the sporting life, in our current times and in the latter part of the 19th century as well, Gaskin was one of the many victims of this sporting life and dirty business that he got himself into.

I hope you enjoyed this!

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