John Peel Wiki

If I Were A Blackbird - Ronnie Ronalde -Song from the 1950's

If I Were A Blackbird

Career Outline

"Ronnie has spent his life traveling the world singing, yodeling and whistling, and performed over a thousand times at the Radio City music hall in New York. He also met screen legend Marilyn Monroe, who told him his whistling made her shiver. And he performed with Duke Ellington, Sophie Tucker, Edith Piaf, Josef Locke, Olson & Johnson, Julie Andrews, Laurel And Hardy, Ginger Rogers, Tony Pastor, Cavan O’Connor, Arthur Tracy and Gracie Fields. Not to mention Max Bygraves, Bennie Hill, Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe, Sandy Powell, Caterina Valente and Neil Finn, as well as performing before the queen and receiving a USA Hall of Fame whistling award in Louisburg, North Carolina." (John Peel, 23 May 2002)

Ronnie Ronalde died in January 2015 at the age of 91. Read the Guardian obituary here.

Links to Peel

"It was about 18 months ago, was it, perhaps 15 months ago, I was wandering around in the nostalgia section of HMV records on Oxford Street and I saw an LP by Ronnie Ronalde. When I was a kid, in the late 40s/early 50s, Ronnie Ronalde was as big a star as there was and was on the radio an awful lot, and his records were just extraordinary things – and obviously they are still extraordinary. And I came back and played one that night and it sounded terrific to me, and obviously to one or two listeners as well. And over the next few weeks or months I played almost every track from the LP. And as I was getting towards the end of the LP, I was astonished and delighted to get an email from Ronnie himself, who lives now in New Zealand, just outside Auckland. So when I got the opportunity to get him to come in and do some stuff for the programme, obviously it would have been madness not to have done so I think…"

"When we met Ronnie in New Zealand – he met us actually, outside our hotel – he came round the corner making bird noises, which was an impressive way to introduce himself. But we heard later on while we were round at his house – I can’t remember if it was Ronnie or his wife who told us – but there was a TV crew came out there to do some filming of Ronnie doing bird noises. And when he was doing so, they had to kind of close all the windows and doors and things, because as soon as he started doing it, all of the birds in the garden joined in, which I can well believe."

(John Peel, 23 May 2002)

Festive Fifty Entries

  • None.


  • One session. No known commercial release.

1. Recorded: 2002-05-19. First broadcast: 23 May 2002. Repeated: ?

  • Greensleeves / Tritsch Tratsch Polka / O Sole Mio / Mockingbird Hill

(There are some discrepancies between the tracks played on the 23 May 2002 first broadcast of the session and those listed in Ken Garner’s The Peel Sessions, as well as at the BBC site. Both sources also include ‘Soldiers”, ‘Mockingbird Kill Yodel’ and ‘Amazing Grace’. The BBC listing further gives ‘Mockingbird Kill’, which appears to be a misspelling of ‘Mockingbird Hill.’)

Other Shows Played



(The list below has been compiled from the database of this site, along with listings from Lorcan's Tracklistings Archive via Phil's Mighty Database. Unless otherwise indicated, all tracks from the CD compilation EMI Presents The Magic Of Ronnie Ronalde. Please add any missing information if known.)

  • 01 December 1991: In A Monastery Garden (LP - Hello Children Everywhere, Volume 4) EMI
(RR emails Peel during the show from New Zealand, where he is listening via the internet)
  • 19 July 2001: The Tritsch Tratsch Polka (LP - His Hey Day) Encore
(JP: "Fantastic! Why they left that off that greatest hits LP that we've been playing a lot lately I simply don't know... I'm tempted to play it again immediately.")
(Peel is just back from holiday in New Zealand, where he met up with RR)
Post Peel

See Also

External Links