Publican composer made history in 1948 by topping the hit parade

Young and Jackson Hotel, Melbourne 1940. Inset: Publican, Allan Ryan.
The original sheet music of Goodnight Mr Moon.


A SECOND generation publican, Allan Ryan became famous during the 1940s and 50s for his music writing talents.

With orchestra leader William Flynn, Ryan, licensee of Melbourne’s Young & Jackson Hotel, composed the song, ‘Goodnight, Mr Moon’, which topped the Australian Hit Parade in 1948.

Young & Jackson was already famous for its art galleries and the life size oil painting of the nude, Chloe when Ryan became host. He was the son of Mick Ryan, a publican in Binalong and later Sydney.

Allan Ryan was born in Avenel, Victoria in 1903 before the family moved to Binalong, a village on the southern tablelands of NSW, where his father hosted the Commercial Hotel. Allan’s father later went on to host the Durban Club Hotel, in Elizabeth Street, Sydney for many years during the 1920s.

The Durban Club Hotel was a regular haunt of newspapermen and theatricals, during this time.

A drummer, a young Allan Ryan played for King George during his visit to Sydney in 1926.

“We did Mary Lou for them (the Royals) with the American comics Olsen and Johnson,” he recalled in a 1949 interview. He played a few Charleston numbers for the King and Queen — who were reportedly keen Charleston fans.

In 1932, Ryan, with many of his colleagues, sold his instruments to “stop the wolf from coming inside” and turned his hand to the hospitality trade. He shifted to Melbourne where he hosted a number of pubs before becoming manager of Young and Jackson Hotel.

At the age of 39, Ryan married the daughter of Binalong pastoralists, Winifred Maud Brown from Rosemont Station in December 1936. That same year he became licensee of Young & Jackson Hotel, where remained as host for over 20 years.

In 1948 Ryan’s composition, ‘Goodnight, Mr. Moon’ displaced one of the most sensational hit tunes of the post-war, ‘America’s Civilisation’ on the music charts.

Ryan and Flynn made history. No other Australian composition had topped the Hit Parade up until that time.

Ryan died at Fitzroy, Victoria, aged 63 in 1967.

Young & Jackson publican, Allan Ryan (centre with eye glasses) celebrated his win on the lottery with staff in the the bar of the hotel. The famous painting, ‘Chloe’ can be seen in the background. Picture: Melbourne Herald May 7 1946

For more on the history of Young & Jackson Hotel visit the Time Gents story: Just who were Young & Jackson and the story of their famous nude, Chloe

© Copyright Mick Roberts 2022

MELBOURNE, Saturday.— A song composed by the licensee of a well-known Melbourne hotel made musical history this week when it became the first Australian composition  to top the sheet music sales.

The song  is “Goodnight, Mr. Moon.” The composer, Mr. Allan Ryan, licensee of Young and Jackson’s Hotel, said today: “Band-leader William Lynch [Flynn], who arranged it, and myself, are negotiating to have Bing Crosby sing “Goodnight, Mr. Moon” in a film he is making this year.

“It will be the first Australian composition he has sung in a film.”

The song was praised by Cardinal Spellman when he visited Australia recently.

Neither Mr. Ryan nor Mr. Lynch can play any instrument.

– Sydney Truth, Sunday 29 August 1948, page 32.

These two are Australia’s ace song-writing team

Smith’s Weekly, Saturday 17 December 1949

Allan Ryan and William Flynn

THEY are light orchestra leader William Flynn (3DB director of light entertainment) and publican Allan Ryan, licensee of Melbourne’s Young & Jacksons, famous for its art galleries and the lifesize painting of the nude, Chloe.

Last year one of their compositions, Goodnight, Mr. Moon, within three weeks of publication topped the Australian Hit Parade. To do this the melody had to displace one of the most sensational hit tunes of the post-war, America’s Civilisation. No other Australian composition has topped Hit Parade, before or since.

Flynn and Ryan are Irish-Australians, of course. Apart from their music, their glasses, and their fast disappearing hair, that is about their only point of resemblance. He Lives Music Bill Flynn is quiet, supremely confident, almost academic — he talks, eats and lives music. His partner Allan, with his infectious smile, has the breezy, bubbling wit of the Irish. Together they have written more successful tunes in recent years than any other Australian. Their work has been described as “world class” by Hollywood’s famous music publisher C. P. Macgregor.

Their songs are currently earning sterling and dollar royalties in at least five countries. They are the authors of Save For Security, the Commonwealth loan theme, which at some time or other has been whistled by every radio listener. It is played hundreds of times a week over the nation’s radio, stations. It introduces all the national and international loan quizzes. It has been adopted as the national loan theme by the British, Canadian, New Zealand and South African Governments. The team is now working on another loan theme Spend Less Than You Get. Safety Whistle, a bright road-caution piece written six months ago for the Australian Road Safety Council, is also doing well. This number has been distributed to all radio stations and dance bands, and will soon be sent to all schools. They have just released two songs which, music critics, say, will almost certainly become public favorites.

But first a little background music: Bill Flynn early specialised on the clarinet and saxophone. He formed his own band in 1928. Between 1933 — 1936 he blew round the East playing in high-class night clubs, cabarets, honky-tonks. Shanghai, he recalls, was then the Paris of the East. It had about 10 big night clubs, and 80 cabarets descending to the taxi-girl dives. It was possible to dance from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. He played at the Shanghai Cani-drome in the French Concession — a night club to accommodate 500 built into the stand of a dog track. Fine Arranger He played along the China coast and as far as 600 miles inland at Cheefoo. During this formative period he met, talked music and played with scores of American, musicians who are now top players in the States.

He also had a working spell in the U.S.A. himself, and returned in time to become chief arranger for the Army concert parties and producer of Army on Parade. He now conducts a 30-piece light orchestra, is looked upon, as one of Australia’s finest arrangers, and produces the William Flynn Show. Allan Ryan— he gleefully calls himself Melbourne’s Mr. Belvedere — is a son of the late Mick Ryan, licensee of Sydney’s Durban Club Hotel, well remembered by the older generation of newspapermen and theatricals. Allan was a “hot” drummer. He remembers playing for the present King and Queen at Sydney’s Govern-ment House during their 1926 tour. “We did Mary Lou for them with the American comics Olsen and Johnson,” he said. He recalled playing a lot of Charleston numbers for the King and Queen — they were then keen Charleston fans. In 1932, Ryan, with many of his colleagues, sold his instruments to stop the wolf from coming inside. He migrated to Melbourne where

he became a barman at Young and Jacksons. He has been there ever since, from 1936 as licensee. But about those two new hit tunes. They are Australian Christmas and, on the reverse side, I Get So Sentimental. “Hit” Formula The critics are especially enthusiastic about Australian Christmas.

Ryan and Flynn are also working on another best-seller (they hope) for the Australian Road Safety Council. They are a real team— both write the music and both write the lyrics. They are not your temperamental Hollywood-type song team who work over a beer-stained, untuned piano in a smoke-filled garret. They are perfectly normal and admit song writing is a peculiar business. Their best songs have been written in a few minutes. Yet they have worked for weeks without producing a note they liked. Hit tunes, they say, can’t be forced. It all depends on inspiration. It is easy to write beautiful music the public can’t remember. To be a commercial proposition a melody must be beautiful, catchy, simple, and easy to remember. Their greatest thrill was when they first heard a lass humming Good night, Mr. Moon in Flinders Street.

William Flynn is also the local music writers’ best friend. Each week he features an Australian composition in his radio show that is heard throughout Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. To date this year he has received 600 manuscripts from bakers and butchers, writers and artists, lawyers and laborers— all bidding Irving Berlins. He has featured 35 of their works. Flynn’s three-year-old son, Randyl, has a highly-developed musical taste already. He is particularly allergic to hillbillies and turns them off before the sound waves are over disturbed. Allan Ryan, in between song writing, supervising his hotel and his two daughters’ music lessons, takes color movies of the passing parade. He says all the best people pass his hotel — and Chloe entices a lot of them in, too!

Subscribe to the latest Time Gents stories


If you would like to support my work, you can leave a small tip here of $2, or several small tips, just increase the amount as you like. Your generous patronage of my work and research, however small it appears to you, will greatly help me with my continuing costs.



Instead, you can make a credit card donation towards the publication of The Time Gents website. If you would like to support my work, you can leave a $2.00 donation here, or you can increase the amount after clicking or tapping into the icon below. Your generous patronage of my work and research, however small it appears to you, will greatly help me with my continuing costs and research.

Categories: Melbourne Hotels

Tags: , , , ,

3 replies

  1. Has anyone heard a recording of Good night Mr. Moon?

    • Allan Ryan was my grandfather. He died in 1967, about a month after I was born. Guido is right, the song never made it to the screen, but there was a bit of corro between B Crosby and my grandfather. In the end I think Bing sent him a master recording of a song that he messed up and started swearing as a consolation prize. That is still around somewhere.

      I havent heard the song, but I think by father has in on sheet music and an old 78.
      He was the Publican of Young and Jacksons opposite Flinders Street Station in Melbourne at the time. He was there for 20-30years. Im not exactly sure. He ran a few pubs around Vic and NSW before that,

  2. Thank you for your post… I just checked the web and found the actual songs which were included in the 1948 Bing Crosby movie called The Emeror Waltz. The soundtrack did not include Good Night Mr Moon, unfortunately. Here are the actual songs in the movie:

    The Kiss in Your Eyes
    Music by Richard Heuberger (uncredited)
    English Lyrics by Johnny Burke

    Friendly Mountains
    based on Austrian yodel songs (uncredited)
    Lyrics by Johnny Burke

    The Emperor Waltz
    Music by Johann Strauß
    Lyrics by Johnny Burke

    I Kiss Your Hand, Madame
    Music by Ralph Erwin
    English Lyrics by Sam Lewis and Joe Young

    Get Yourself a Phonograph
    Music by Jimmy Van Heusen
    Lyrics by Johnny Burke


What's Your Thoughts?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: