George Formby – Why Don’t Women Like Me?

George Formby – Why Don\’t Women Like Me? (Chords)

There must be something about the 26th May. Today is the birthday of Mike Dickison, Gary from Ukulelia and Mark Occhionero. Happy Birthday, guys!

It also happens to be the birthday of George Formby. For those of an American persuasion, George Formby is the UK’s version of Tiny Tim: gormless, surprisingly popular and synonymous with the ukulele. Like with Tiny Tim in the US, UK ukulelists get sick of George Formby references whenever the subject of the uke comes up. But looking on the bright side, unlike Tiny Tim, George Formby had some serious uke skills. Most of his songs have a serious solo and it’s well worth any uke player picking up some of his techniques. I quick often skip ahead to the solo when one of his tracks is on; they’re full of interesting syncopations. Matthew Richards has a very well explained tutorial on how to play George Formby’s split stroke here.

George Formby is almost exclusively associated with the banjo ukulele, but he was no stranger to the wooden ukulele. As proved by the clip of Why Don’t Women Like Me?.

Why Don’t Women Like Me? is one of my favourite Formby songs; mostly because it namechecks Lady William Hamilton. You don’t get that with Natasha Beddingfield.

It’s the version in the video, shorter than the recorded version, that I’ve written up in the chords. The first thing to notice is that he’s in D-tuning (which he used pretty much exclusively). If you prefer, you can stay in C-tuning and use the chord shapes that you’re familiar with. Other than that, the chords are pretty straight forward.

The most important thing to remember when playing Formby: don’t come in too early with your grin.

View Comments


  1. iain May 27th, 2008 2:44 pm

    Probably because you’re singing during tea-break George.

  2. Woodshed May 27th, 2008 5:54 pm

    Really? I thought all the girls were hot for tea break singers.

  3. Zym May 27th, 2008 6:20 pm

    Only diet coke breaks unfortunately:(

  4. Woodshed May 27th, 2008 8:23 pm

    Andy: I’ve just finished watching the last episode in the first series of The Wire. Excellent stuff. Thanks again.

    Now down to work on Down in a Hole.

  5. LonnaB May 28th, 2008 12:18 pm

    Oh, Down in a Hole would be marvelous!

  6. zymeck May 28th, 2008 12:39 pm


    brilliant stuff :)
    I was going to suggest Down in a Hole a while ag, but i thought the significance would be lost on you at the time.
    (I dont know if you know, but a different cover version of the song is used for each of the 4 series)

  7. Woodshed May 28th, 2008 11:11 pm

    The significance might have been lost on me but I would have done it. I love the Blind Boys of Alabama. I guessed that they’d have new versions for each when I heard the Tom Waits version at the start.

  8. George May 1st, 2011 3:37 pm

    Thanks for posting these chords as I’m a huge George Formby fan. Can please post the chords for They Laughed When I Started to Play? Thanks!

  9. zac987 May 15th, 2011 7:44 pm

    What sort of uke is he playing in this video? It looks like it has a large body with a soprano scale neck

  10. William D McGrath October 9th, 2011 3:07 am

    What is the strumming pattern for this song? i cant figure it out

  11. mark November 20th, 2011 9:16 pm

    what are strings tuned to for D tuning?

  12. Woodshed November 20th, 2011 9:58 pm

    mark: A D F# B

  13. dave December 13th, 2011 12:39 pm

    would a capo on 2nd fret do the same thing?

  14. Daniel April 20th, 2012 3:02 pm

    your chords are really bad, the G you have is an F. A7 is actually G7, D7 i believe is A7, E7 is D and C is B!!! whats that about?!

  15. Woodshed April 22nd, 2012 11:22 pm

    Daniel: It’s in D tuning.

  16. Lizzie April 23rd, 2012 8:59 pm

    i cant work out the strum pattern, is it just down or something more funky??

  17. Elliot Nesterman January 26th, 2013 3:53 pm

    FWIW, to call George Formby the English Tiny Tim does Formby an injustice. Tiny Tim was popular because America found him camp, whereas Formby was simply comic. Really he was more like Jerry Lewis, but without the infantile character that was Lewis’s mainstay, and with more singing.
    Between 1934 and 1946 Formby made 20 films. In the first two, “Boots! Boots!” and “Off The Dole,” he played the “cheeky northerner” but after those he was always written as the well-meaning naif, usually shy with women but getting the girl in the end.
    His father, George Formby, Sr., who was a famous music hall performer, never wanted his son to go on the stage. Rather he had him trained as a jockey. As a result George, Jr. was not given music lessons and never learned to read music. He also could only play the ukulele in one key. So he had a bunch of ukuleles, each tuned in a different key. He’d play the uke which matched the key of the song.
    He’s famous for the complexity of his strumming, combining plain strums, split strokes, triples and fan strokes. This made for an exciting syncopation in his solos.
    Frank Skinner, an English TV host and Formby enthusiast, did a very nice documentary on Formby in 2011, which is available on YouTube.

  18. Dave August 29th, 2014 9:47 pm

    Elliot, if I were to choose an American counterpart to George Formby I’m torn between Eddie Cantor (who also had racy songs) or the early 30s movie comedian Joe E. Brown, who didn’t sing but cultivated his odd looks and hillbilly naivete into a formula for moneymaking films.

  19. Woodshed September 1st, 2014 3:11 pm

    Dave: I think of Garfunkel and Oates as the American George Formby. Uke-playing comedy actors singing innuendo laden songs.

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