Josef Locke whose real name was Joseph McLaughlin, was born on 23rd March,
1917 in Derry, Northern Ireland. He began singing in local churches at the age
of 7 and in his mid teens he enlisted in the Irish Guards by adding a couple of
years to his age. He later served in the Palestine police force and in the late
1930s, joined the Royal Ulster Constabulary.
In the 1940s he began touring throughout the UK, performing in the many variety
theatres and did his first summer season at Blackpool. This was to became an
annual event as he did 19 summer seasons in the town. Josef was advised to find
a theatrical agent and managed to get onto the books of impresario Jack Hilton.
Josef became a household name when his career was managed by Lew and Leslie
Grade, two years later.
His first record, made in 1947 was 'Santa Lucia' which was quickly followed by
'Come back to Sorrento'. In the same year he released his most famous record;
'Hear my song, Violetta'. He also recorded Irish ballads such as 'I'll take you
home again Kathleen' and 'Galway Bay' and excerpts from operettas such as 'The
He made many radio and TV appearances. His first radio broadcast in 1949 was on
the 'Happydrome' series, which starred Ramsbottom, Enoch and Me. His TV
appearances were on such programmes as 'Rooftop Rendezvous', 'Top of the Town'
and 'The Frankie Howard Show'. Josef also appeared in a number of films
including 'Holidays with Pay' and performed in 5 Royal Variety Shows.
In 1958 the Inland Revenue took an interest in Josef and demanded substantial
payments for tax. He eventually sorted this out, but in the meantime he retired
to County Kildare.
In 1992 the film 'Hear My Song' was released. This was based on Josef and he
attended the première in London. In the same year 'Hear My Song' got into the
top ten album charts. He was also featured on TVs 'This is Your Life'. He died
on 15th October, 1999.