A piano/vocals duet with heavy classical influence, Layton & Johnstone were staid but solid interpreters of American popular song during the '20s and early '30s. They sold over 10 million records during their time together, much of which was spent in England (they were one of the most successful acts on Britain's vaudeville scene). Pianist Turner Layton, born in Washington, D.C. in 1894, was the son of a music teacher, a vaudeville performer as of 1920 (occasionally with Henry Creamer), and a recording artist (for the prestigious Black Swan label) just one year later. He also appeared in musicals (often all-black) including Strut, Three Showers, and Miss Liza, then met up with Clarence "Tandy" Johnstone in the early '20s.
The pair made their London debut in 1923, very early on, and performed in the West End, appeared on radio, and recorded dozens of records. A few titles became popular, including "Bye-Bye, Blackbird," "River Stay 'Way From My Door," and "It Ain't a Going to Rain No More." The partnership ended in 1935, when Johnstone was implicated in a divorce suit that caused a scandal. He returned to America (and obscurity), dying in 1953, while Layton continued as a popular soloist. He was also an accomplished songwriter, the tunesmith behind "Dear Old Southland," "If I Could Be With You One Hour Tonight," and "After You've Gone."