Saturday, January 17, 2015

Len and "Harry" Spencer

I know that all of you know about Len Spencer. BUT how many of you know about his younger brother Harry? I would assume that a few of you have heard that name come up before if you're an early record geek like me. Harry(his real name was Henry) Spencer was seven years younger than Len, born in 1875, he came in a bit later to the recording business. He recorded mostly recitations, and occasionally recorded with his brother. Harry had more of a dramatic flair in his blood, rather than the minstrelsy that Len had. I have not yet seen a photograph of Harry, but I know that there is one out there.
Here's the two brothers:
and brother Harry(kind of)
(from my own artwork)

For YEARS, I couldn't tell the difference between Len and Harry's voices, because, at first hearing them, you wouldn't be able to tell them apart. But one of my kind friends told me how one can tell them apart, even if it's just one of them. So what my friend told me was that Harry had a deeper voice and a thicker dialect(which was a mix of a bunch of things, so I'm not sure what to call it...) like Len's, and also on the few records where he announces for the Columbia orchestra is a black dialect, his laugh and mimicry is very much different than Len's, one is listed below:
another example of Harry's voice(a better one in my opinion) is listed below, a slightly haunting record to my mind(recorded in 1898):
(Len is probably doing some of the other voices on this one)

Harry was not as popular as a recoding artist as Len, but he certainly had more of a broad spectrum of the film business and the machinery that goes with the phonograph. He was a wild soul just like Len, and he was more than likely to have had syphilis, as he was reported to have gone "mad" later in his life(though, he did live a whole lot longer than Len, hmm...). 
In the late 1890's, Harry was a purchasing agent of the various gadgets and latest inventions on the market, he was advertised several times in The Phonoscope in 1897 and 1898:
this proves the whole "broad spectrum" thing I mentioned earlier. Interesting to see that the Kinetoscope is mentioned here...
Harry had always kind of been trailing behind his big and beloved brother Len, and I have the feeling that this sort of thing must have been so when they were growing up together. As Len was the oldest child, he was the most loved and independent, so Harry as the youngest child, must have gotten a heap of attention, but was treated a little differently. 
They were both wild men, but Len always beats Harry by a mile in every aspect of their craziness. Len got all the women, drugs, and more of the money to be had. 
Harry got the more severe type A mess, the real eccentric mind-set, and the madness. 
Considering these points, I don't know who to go for.

Henry C. Spencer Jr. 
(February 14, 1875-August 29, 1943)

I hope you enjoyed this! 

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