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Turner Layton (7/02/1894 - 2/06/1978)

John Turner Layton
Composer, Vocalist, Pianist, Music Publisher

Turner Layton is best remembered for the songs that he wrote with lyricist Henry Creamer: “After You’ve Gone” (1918), “Dear Old Southland” (1921), “Way Down Yonder in New Orleans” (1922), which was one of the dance numbers in the Astaire/Rogers filmThe Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939), and ”Whoa, Tillie” (1923) which was popularized by Bessie Smith.

Layton was a composer, vocalist, music publisher, and an accomplished pianist. The pair’s vaudeville act, for which they wrote all of the material, toured the U.S. and Europe. They also wrote a couple of short-lived Broadway shows before their success with Strut Miss Lizzie in 1922.

In 1924 the elegant and urbane, as he is generally described, Layton moved to England where he was well received. He formed a singing duo with Clarence Johnstone for which he played piano, and they performed throughout England. When Johnstone left England in 1935, Layton continued a successful solo career into the ‘60s. He died in London.

-- Sandra Burlingame

Courtesy of


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