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About Leo Dryden
Leo Dryden was was an English music hall 'vocal comic' best known as the Kipling of the Halls for his patriotic and colonial songs including The Miner's Dream of Home (1891); he also performed parodies, including Shopmates and one on Feniculi Fenicula. He dressed to fit the songs, as a Canadian Indian for The Great Mother, as an Indian soldier for India's Reply, and How India Kept Her Word (1898). Even America did not escape, with America Looking On, about the Boer War. These examples of colonial fealty were well received by British audiences, and parodied in Rudyard Kipling's Barrack-Room Ballads. He was also known for tear jerking ballads such as Don't Go Down the Mine, Dad (1910), possibly inspired by the great 1907 mining disaster at St Genard in South Wales, and Good-bye, Mary! (1911). At the start of World War I, he returned to patriotic songs with Call Us and We’ll Soon Be There (1914).
Dryden also appeared in The Lady of the Lake (1925), an early sound film inspired by the Walter Scott poem.
By the 1930s, with the halls in decline, and his son joining his own half-brothers in America, Leo Dryden was reduced to busking in the streets. He died in London 21 April 1939.
He was born George Dryden Wheeler on June 6, 1863. In 1892, he met Hannah Chaplin, mother of Charlie, and also a music hall performer. They had an affair, and a son, George Wheeler Dryden (31 August 1892), leading to the breakdown of her marriage to Charles Chaplin, Sr. The couple split up and the child was kept by Dryden, leading to bouts of mental illness, and admission to the Cane Hill Asylum at Coulsdon, this was the end of Hannah's career and the start of a long decline. She was not reunited with her son until the 1920s.
He was the paternal grandfather of rock musician Spencer Dryden, the drummer for Jefferson Airplane.