Ah, yes. Freddy Hylands, the pianist that Len Spencer and the boys at The Columbia Phonograph Company praised for his talent and his adorable and easygoing personality. He had no faults it seemed, as his playing always made a "hit" with the lead performer on each record he was on. He was not always this way however. Remember that Fred. Hylands became practically the "best friend" of Len Spencer, and in being this, he got caught up in the wild lifestyle that Spencer led. This is why Hylands only lived to see age 41. Why so? Drinking and "living large", that is what murdered the great Fred. Hylands. He was a very kind person, a gentle and comical chap who always had music on his mind, whether it be Ragtime or something completely opposing to that.
A heaving force in Rag-Time to be reckoned with, that was "Freddy" Hylands.
(the statement above is in my novel by the way!)
Aside from all of these lovable traits, Hylands was indeed a drinker. And a pretty hard one too. As this can be heard on MANY of the records that he is the pianist on. And I know that I described his drunk pianos playing, but I think this is a perfect time to do so:
Hylands could play his heart out on any take that was thrown at him, even if it was the thirtieth take of something. But he tended to drink between the takes, to ease his strained muscles and quit the trembling that his fingers had kicked up from the previous take. This made him feel better, but little would be know, that his piano playing deteriorated from this. His rhythm became unsteady, messy, and his notes were slurred in both hands. The engineers behind the end of the plain horn couldn't bother him, as they just didn't want to. He wasn't troubled as a drunk, as he never was, it was just a trifle harder to handle the regular recording business when he could barely play, and was practically numb where his fingers had to work.
His piano playing deteriorated as the takes came along, but he would barely realize that. he just kept playing his heart out, as that's what his impulse dictated and what he did best,
even as a drunk. When he was recording with J. W. Myers, his piano playing had to be precise, as Myers was very nitpicky when it came to Hylands' piano playing, as he must have been one of the only ones on Columbia's staff who told Hylands that his mind must be completely clear if he was going to accompany him for the day. Everyone else could pretty much just trust him with anything, as long as he was playing in the right key and had reasonably good time for the day(he could still have alright time as a drunk).
Even with all his faults, we still love him just as much the Columbia staff did, it is a due that all of the new "Ragtimers" owe to Fred. Hylands by paying our respects to his grave, and just playing his music in general.
I hope you enjoyed this!