William McEwan: The Feisty Scot that Pioneered American Gospel Recording

I have been working close to eight years now on a project involving early Gospel recordings with some friends, and for the moment that is about all that I can say about it. However, it will be very comprehensive in regard to Gospel recording up through 1900.  Homer Rodeheaver’s recording career opened up a new chapter in Gospel recording and transformed it from a limited, occasional undertaking to part of the regular diet of the record companies. But Homer did not set foot into recording studio until 1913; what of the singers that were recording Gospel between Sankey’s last cylinder — circa 1900 — and Homer’s first test?

A couple of weeks ago Rebecca and I went to New York’s City College to deliver a talk on bandleader Hal Kemp, sponsored by the ARSC New York Chapter. On my way back, we stopped in Western Pennsylvania and picked up right around a hundred records, ranging from Uncle Josh to The Monkees. I was thinking of featuring many of them here, but Rebecca warned that sometimes the small projects that I undertake take time away from the big ones, and that she feels sometimes that I do them in order to avoid the big ones. It’s a wise observation, and I feel I should temper my enthusiasm about our finds with a sense of knowing what’s really important.

This one does, I think, pass muster:

William McEwan, "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" in its American release, recorded in London November 1911.
William McEwan, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” in its American release, recorded in London November 1911.

William McEwan — Will the Circle Be Unbroken (1911)

I had never heard of William McEwan, despite all of the years that I have put into studying early Gospel records. McEwan was a Scottish singer who took over for Homer Rodeheaver in the William E. Biederwulf campaigns in 1909 when Rody joined Billy Sunday that year. McEwan also beat Rody into the studio by nearly two years, recording several of the same hymns Rody himself would do starting in 1913. Finding him, at first, proved a difficult matter. Rebecca — who is of Scottish extraction, and would know — told me that the name “William McEwan” was rather common among the Scots, and my first candidate was a brewer, born in the 1820s, and certainly not my guy. The Scottish folksinger Mark Thompson, however, has posted a blog that contains most of McEwan’s story:

100 Years of William McEwan

I say “most of” as it breaks off just before McEwan enters into the studio for the second time in 1922; he is said to have made 82 recordings, which have been compiled onto cassettes or CDs already in some form. As the first 24 of them were waxed in 1911 then the remaining 58 must’ve been made from 1922-1942.

Gipsy Smith in his Salvation Army uniform. Dismissed in 1882, he went on as a traveling evangelist for another 65 (!) years.
Gypsy Smith in his Salvation Army uniform. Dismissed in 1882, he went on as a traveling evangelist for another 65 (!) years.

This is not designed to be a long blog post, and before I close I wanted to address some of the claims Thompson makes in regard to Gospel recording between Sankey and Rodeheaver. General William Booth’s few recordings, made in 1905, are notable, but not musical. Gipsy Smith (1860-1947) recorded 13 sides for Columbia in 1910 and, like McEwan, made no more until 1922; four additional titles for Columbia, followed by five more at the Richmond, Indiana Starr Piano Company studio in a 1923 session probably set up by Homer Rodeheaver. I know of no more recordings of Gipsy Smith, though if anyone knows of more I would be happy to hear about them.

There are two figures that Thompson leaves out that are worth mentioning. First is singer Henry Burr (1882-1941), the most prolific recording artist in world history, narrowly edging out Bollywood playback singer Lata Mangheshkar. Homer Rodeheaver credited Burr with being his inspiration and acknowledged him as his direct forerunner in recording Gospel songs. Although some may have trouble distinguishing the significance of Burr’s sacred output from the thousands of other recordings he made, I think Rody is right here. One thing we have learned from the project that I mentioned at the start of this post is that the early record industry maintained a rather cool attitude towards Gospel and didn’t go out of its way to embrace it, despite ample public sentiment in favor of it. Burr’s persistence in recording Gospel was significant, and it paid off, eventually; he began making records in 1902 and made sacred records from the very beginning. Homer’s own battered copy of “Throw Out the Lifeline” featuring Burr and Frank C. Stanley — on Standard, and from 1908 — still resides at the Winona History Center. Burr had basically retired from recording when Rodeheaver persuaded him to join in on a session in 1927; though Burr would go on to a long career singing on the WLS National Barn Dance in his last years, this duet with Rodeheaver and organist Mark Andrews was his ca. 14,000th and final commercial recording.

Henry Burr's last record, with Homer Rodeheaver, 1927
Henry Burr’s last record, with Homer Rodeheaver, 1927

Homer Rodeheaver & Henry Burr: Where the Gates Swing Outward Never (1927)

Note that both audio selections, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” and “Where the Gates Swing Outward Never” were composed by Charles H. Gabriel (1856-1932). Rodeheaver recorded “Where the Gates” several times with Gabriel himself as the second voice for Rainbow, but alas, never made an electrical recording of it with Gabriel as he did with Burr.

Finally there is the matter of Charles M. Alexander (1867-1920), whose scant output of recording I have long known about, thanks to my friend Norman Field’s website.

Charles Alexander

By rights we ought not to have Alexander’s voice at all, despite his importance in evangelism; he didn’t really accept recording with enthusiasm, and most of what he did was not published. However, as with General Booth, what little we have we ought to be grateful for, as I am grateful now to know of William McEwan and his place among early Gospel recordists.

— Uncle Dave Lewis Hamiton, OH 6-30-2015

Found at Last: The Orloff Trio

The Orlaff Trio played on this side and three other Rainbows, but were never credited on the label. Author's collection,
The Orloff Trio played on this side and three other Rainbows, but were never credited on the label. Author’s collection.

It has been more than ten years since I went through the Rainbow Records catalogs of the 1920s, looking for a way to reconcile the confusing number series that Homer Rodeheaver employed, a mystery to that time that no one seemed able to unravel. One important clue to the answer was the listed accompaniments; Rainbow catalogs were quite careful in connoting the specific kinds of accompaniments on records, if not the people playing them. In the 7 or 800 Rainbow records that I have handled since that project, I found only one instance where the catalog listings were in error in regard to accompaniment. I deduced that if the accompaniment had changed, then the record had been remade, and this has helped to open the door to understanding the Rainbow label’s output as a whole.

In some instances, the accompanists were identified by name. It was relatively easy to find the Smith-Spring-Holmes Orchestral Quartet, a busy instrumental act on the Chautauqua circuit of the 1920’s that featured cellist Lotus Flower Spring, a sort of a sex symbol to the religious-minded of that era and a figure that elicited much gossip in sacred magazines of that time. Clay Smith, her husband, was a noted composer and a legend in the field of saxophone pedagogy. So these folks were pretty easy to research, and it was fruitful, as they played on many Rainbow Records; their odd blend of instruments was easy to identify.

Not so the “Orlaff”, or Orloff, Trio. They were only listed in Rainbow catalogs, and not on record labels so far as I could tell. Their few recordings belonged to a tight group of Rainbows made during the Billy Sunday Crusade in Cincinnati in April, 1921. I was able to confirm their presence at this event from local newspaper coverage of the crusade, but I did not learn much else; not for years, though their standard instrumentation was evident from the first: violin, cello and piano.

Last night, I was going through my Rainbow catalog for the gazillionth time, examining the Cincinnati section towards a project intended for the Public Library of Cincinnati and making small corrections. I realized for the first time that in copying out the Rainbow catalogs that I had two spellings for the group: “Orlaff” and “Orloff.” It occurred to me that I had only ever looked up the “Orlaff” spelling, so I tried “Orloff” instead and discovered that the “laff” was on me. There, from an obscure 1920 issue of the John Herron Art Institute Bulletin of Indianapolis was mention of a Sunday concert series given by the Orloff Trio: Jean (or Jeanette) Orloff, violin; Genevieve Hughel, cello and Mrs. Clarence Coffin, pianist.

This would not be the end of my spelling bee; I found that Genevieve was also spelled “Geneve” with any number of variants for her last name, and that Mrs. Clarence was either Leonora or Lenora, though the spelling of “Coffin” was pretty persistent. I figured that I needed to call RS Forste onto the case, and that was the right thing to do, as she swiftly found dozens upon dozens of newspaper articles on the Orloff Trio for me, including this:

January 16, 1921. Courtesy of RS Forste.
January 16, 1921. Courtesy of RS Forste.

These ladies were not amateurs, playing for pleasure at the church social or at vacuous dinners held by prominent Indianapolis housewives. Jean Orloff had studied at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, and then went to England to learn with the great German violinist and teacher, August Wilhelmj. Although I do not know yet where Lenora Coffin studied, it was away, as a 1918 article mentions that she has just returned from abroad, and was setting up in Indianapolis as a piano teacher. Genevieve Hughel, or “Hueghel” is mentioned as “a real Indiana gal” of Dutch ancestry, which meant a lot in the context of the cello of that day; it still does today, in fact. Considering her company, I’d be willing to bet that Hughel also had European training. The Orloff Trio began in 1918 with another cellist, but Hughel made such a difference in their sound that when she joined in 1919, Jean Orloff announced her trio as a “new group.”

May 28, 1919. Courtesy of RS Forste.
May 28, 1919. Courtesy of RS Forste.

They were very busy, from the start, playing up to three times a day in different locales. Newspaper advertising places them nearly every day at the Rainbow Room of the Hotel Severin, in addition to the bi-weekly concerts at the Herron Institute through which I found them and appearances at the Teachers College of Indianapolis. RS Forste turned up so many newspaper items on the Orloff Trio that we couldn’t ingest them all; their concert programs were routinely published in the newspaper! Generally, they played pretty lightweight stuff; Greig’s short pieces were often on their programs, as was the “Méditation” from Thaïs — a common violin showpiece — and other bon mots that the audience in Indianapolis would’ve found easy to take. However, they did play a lot of current music of their time; Victor Herbert was a favorite, and they played a wide variety of his pieces, and on one “Scandanavian” concert they played works of Jean Sibelius and of Finnish composer and cellist Herman Sandby, a close friend of Percy Grainger whose work isn’t heard much today. They’d play a “Minuetto” of Haydn, but as far as I could tell, none of his great piano trios whole. Yet, occasionally on special concerts they would program long works, such as the “Dumky” trio of Dvorák.

The Orloff Trio toured, providing incidental music for a play produced by Stuart Walker called “The Book of Job” which is where I think Homer Rodeheaver must’ve encountered them. They are heard on at least four Rainbows; it is “at least” because not all of the 1921 Rainbows have turned up, and the Orloff Trio may also be on items not yet located. They provide two accompaniments to legendary Welsh tenor Dan Beddoe (1863-1937), probably the most famous singer the other side of Kathleen Battle to be resident in Cincinnati, then the head of the voice department at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. Beddoe was a big name, and Rodeheaver was lucky to have him on the label; Beddoe’s recording career began in 1911. The other two accompaniments back up Homer Rodeheaver in his duo with Virginia Asher (1869-1938), a key figure in evangelism (and feminism) who was a popular personality in the Billy Sunday campaigns.

Orloff Trio Gennett Records card, courtesy of Gennett Collection at the Institute for Jazz Studies at Rutgers – Newark.

In July and October 1922, the Orloff Trio made six further recordings at the Starr Piano Company studio in Richmond, Indiana. Unfortunately these recordings were made at a time when Gennett really wasn’t doing a good job of filling in their recording cards, though none of the Orloff cards indicate that any of the takes were mastered. Nevertheless, these still could survive as Personal recordings, which is what they probably were, sold hand to hand or given away, made in tiny quantities. Most discs of this kind ended their short lives on the shellac scrap heaps of World War II, but there is always reason to hope.

September 3, 1921. Courtesy of RS Forste
September 3, 1921. Courtesy of RS Forste

In 1923, Genevieve Hughel left the Orloff Trio and was replaced by another cellist; newspaper mentions of the group continue through 1930. Jean Orloff is still listed a professional musician in Indianapolis in 1943, and she died there in 1967 at the age of 87. Although Mrs. Coffin’s husband appears to have died in 1944, by 1947 she was writing the program notes for Indianapolis Symphony concerts. She ultimately did marry a man named Smith and moved to San Diego where she died in 1958.

Cup my ear and strain, as I may, I cannot hear the public clamoring for Hoosier female classical musicians of the 1920s. Nevertheless, these women were central to the cultural life of Indianapolis in their time, and very popular; a benefit they played for the Public Library in Indianapolis to raise money for the book budget brought in 600 1919 dollars, $8,568.31 today. The urgency and drama found in their Rainbow accompaniments suggest that their Gennetts might be a good deal more exciting than typical salon records like those of the Taylor Trio or the various “Florentine” groups on Victor. I for one shout “hip! hip! Hooray!!” that the Orloff Trio have been found; from here there is nothing left but discovery, and I’m happy to ring the curtain down on the wonder and nagging mystery of it all. — Uncle Dave Lewis

May 24, 1919. Courtesy of RS Forste
May 24, 1919. Courtesy of RS Forste

I would like to thank RS Forste and Charlie Dahan for their help with this article, but also Chris Zwarg whose Trusound Transfer this is. He sent it to me via email a number of years ago, and while I have the disc I don’t do as good a job as Chris. 

Dan Beddoe and the Orloff Trio – Gethsemane

Wes Montgomery’s “A Day in the Life:” Some Thoughts, and Hopefully Fresh Perspectives on a Familiar Favorite

Wes day front

By Uncle Dave Lewis

Wes Montgomery’s A Day in the Life is an album that has figured prominently in my life at certain points; tracks from it at first, and the whole album later. It participated in the background of my childhood, and as an adult I’ve tried to stay in touch with it. The vast majority of my record collection disappeared some years ago thanks to the deceptive and unscrupulous machinations of the manager of a storage facility, and since then I have slowly been rebuilding what I can of essential things that I must have. Over the weekend I found my third, and hopefully last, LP copy of A Day in the Life at the Northside Record Fair. Listening to it again brings along thoughts that I’d like to share here.

Wes Montgomery (1923-1968) and his brothers Monk and Buddy are related to my main research area, as they were major movers in the Indianapolis jazz scene of the 1950s. Some of the records which emerged from that scene were pressed in Cincinnati, though the only recording that the Montgomerys made in their hometown, The Montgomery Brothers and Five Others, came out on World Pacific, a west coast imprint (PJ-1240). Montgomery developed a signature style on the electric guitar based out of his contact with Charlie Christian’s records of the early 1940s; though his octaves – difficult to execute, by the way; I’ve tried – constitute the most frequently cited technique associated with him, Montgomery’s sound incorporates a lot of different figures; flamenco-like flailing, bluesy gestures and scales running up and down, etc. I read mention of his use of block chording, but actually I don’t note as much of that in listening to him; perhaps I’m missing it or my ears are on wrong. The prevailing attitude among many jazz critics in regard to Wes Montgomery is that his 1959-63 Riverside recordings carry forward the best of his efforts, and that afterward he gradually became mired into a pop context that sapped his creativity and spoiled his potential as an artist.

You know, I haven’t any idea what they’re talking about, and genuinely wonder if these folks are listening to the same album that I am.  For me, every note of A Day in the Life is jazz, though my former colleague Scott Yanow at allmusic.com writes that, in this case, “the jazz content is almost nil.” That comment, for an album which uses a consistent backline of Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Grady Tate? This was the first of three LPs that Wes Montgomery made for A&M, a label that genuinely cared about jazz and sought to market it to a broader audience base than labels which regarded jazz as a cottage industry. Two of my favorite jazz albums of the 1970s – Charlie Haden’s The Golden Number and Don Cherry’s Brown Rice — first appeared, at least to me, on A&M.  I like the pop albums that A&M made in the 1960s and very much appreciate the stab they made at incorporating punk and new wave into their stable around 1980. However, for me A Day in the Life is not a pop album, but jazz which incorporates extended language and notions of genre; if you want to find examples of that elsewhere in jazz, look no further than the 1920s, when jazz bands freely incorporated material from classical, opera and folk music into their mix. What I consider to be the first “free jazz” solo is a whimsical chorus played all rhythm, with no coherent ‘notes,’ by Louis Armstrong on “Go Long Mule,” a country song popularized by Jones and Hare and heard during the Scopes ‘Monkey Trial’ – hardly a jazz standard. It starts at 1:47

I guess that some of these jazz writers are thinking “string section equals no jazz interest,” even though Charlie Parker with Strings is one of the most revered jazz albums, and Chet Baker, Miles Davis, Artie Shaw and Glenn Miller all got a lot of mileage out of bringing string sections into jazz with success. Also, Montgomery’s transition to A&M in particular is seen as his moving from the pop frying pan into hell fire in comparison to his previous period with Verve. Discographies really put the lie to this; they show that Montgomery’s contract was simply taken over as is, and that he worked for A&M with exactly the same resources he had at Verve – same arranger (Don Sebesky), same producer (Creed Taylor), same studio and engineer (Rudy Van Gelder). One 1960s album I simply cannot listen to is Sebesky’s first solo outing, for Verve, Don Sebesky and the Jazz-Rock Syndrome – I think that was the first time the term “Jazz-Rock” was ever used for anything. But I do think Sebesky’s arrangements for Wes Montgomery are on point; I love the section in “A Day in the Life” (the track) that follows Montgomery playing the equivalent to The Beatles’ “… and somebody spoke and I went into a dream …” It reminds me of Christmas at shopping malls when I was a kid, where that very piece was heard over loudspeakers as my family made our way through the assembled multitudes. The weird, psychedelic section at the end of [Montgomery’s] “A Day in the Life” always transformed my Christmas surroundings into a surreal wonderland, which I loved, though it was always a little scary.

One of the authors of Montgomery’s Wiki writes of the A&M albums that “these records were the most commercially successful of his career, but featured the least jazz improvisation.” I note that a Wiki editor has added a “[citation needed]” tag next to that statement, and indeed, it needs one. A Day in the Life – the album – is loaded with improvised sections. Gunther Schuller, through a secondary source, says that “[Wes Montgomery’s] playing at its peak becomes unbearably exciting, to the point where one feels unable to muster sufficient physical endurance to outlast it.” Indeed, you hear some of that on “California Nights” on this album – the high-flying, breathtaking Wes Montgomery solo where he goes and goes and you think it will never stop. It’s just not as long a jam as the one on “Bumpin’,” but it’s there. What put Wes Montgomery into the malls was not his alleged compromise to the Mammon of commerce but A&M’s savvy marketing strategies. They were getting their music around everywhere. After my parents broke up, my mom briefly dated a man named Mike, whom I thought was an ass. But he had a splendid 8-track system in his car, and as he was too cheap to buy an 8-track to listen to, always played the one that came with the machine, an A&M sampler. It had several Wes Montgomery tracks on it, and I was always glad to hear them; “I Say a Little Prayer” sounded great in that car.

Some have pointed to Wes Montgomery as a pioneer of “smooth jazz.” I like me some smooth, and I greatly respect some of those players, but if I hadn’t read this inference the thought would never have occurred to me. I think we are confusing smooth with what was once called ‘Easy Listening,’ a term banished from the vocabulary in some quarters but nonetheless one that has some relevance in regard to Wes Montgomery. His later albums did figure in those playlists, on those radio stations and it’s another reason why his music made it into the malls. Wes’ approach was a softer touch on those 60s hits than the originals, and there was a market for that: my mother once complained that she had a co-worker at the University of Cincinnati who told her that when The Beatles did their own songs it was evil music, but when 101 Strings and the groups he liked did the same songs it was “okay.” Some folks had such convictions on religious grounds as well; rock music was “garbage can music” but the songs by themselves were not so bad.

The copy of A Day in the Life I found in Northside is a later pressing with the gray and olive label used from 1973 to 1988; its inner sleeve has releases from 1973 on it. The vinyl during this period was a little better than what had been used by A&M in 1967. My first copy, found in a thrift store in San Jose in 1979, I had to leave behind when I left suddenly on my 18th birthday. It was fairly battered, and I found a better one in a record store I used to frequent in Santa Monica in the 90s, but lost that with the storage locker, so I am glad to have this one. It is far from being a rare album, and is easy to find; Montgomery’s two other A&Ms are a bit more scarce, but not terribly so. Best to have any of them on vinyl, as practically all A&M CDs are shoddily prepared and have wretched sound; Alpert and Moss sold the company to the future UMG just as digital came in, and had little control or say as to the quality of CDs before being edged out of the company in 1993.

Wes Day back

Filmmaker Jud Yalkut introduced me, about 1980, to the Sakurazawa Nyoiti book You Are All Sanpaku which describes the condition of whites of the eye visible below the pupil as a sign of illness and fatalism. As I read, my mind turned to the picture of Wes Montgomery on the back of “A Day in the Life” with its grim, unsmiling portrait of the guitarist, clearly sanpaku, if you believe in that sort of thing; perhaps Wes could’ve used a little of Don Cherry’s “Brown Rice.” Flip the album over and you are greeted with a huge, close up shot of spent cigarettes which is hardly the most attractive cover image one could imagine; how many of us spend our time staring into ashtrays? And of course, Wes Montgomery only outlived the October 1967 release of A Day in the Life by about eight months, dying suddenly of a heart attack in Indianapolis on June 15, 1968. At the time it made me wonder if, indeed, Wes was dogged by the fatalistic demon that Nyoiti described, but now, I think not. I suspect the album design was in keeping with the project, that Wes Montgomery had something serious to say about then-current popular music, wondrous and different from old standards like “Willow Weep for Me” which he’d always played. It seemed to me then, and seems more so now, that his intentions were completely sincere.

Just as we no longer think of The Monkees as “the Pre-fab four,” I think we ought to discard notions like this – I think it’s old, pre-edited Yanow – shown on All About Jazz, “By the time Montgomery released his first album for A&M Records, he had seemingly totally abandoned the straightforward jazz of his earlier career for the more lucrative pop market.” I think Pat Metheny, writing on his own site, is more on the money: “Wes was a carrier of the flame residing in each major player that has illuminated the essential jazz tradition. He was an embodiment of the forward-thinking improvising musician, who looked with wisdom and curiosity into the heart of his own moment in time, and played a music that commented upon the nature of that cultural moment through the prism that the sophistication of the form at its highest level mandates.” Amen, brother.

David “Uncle Dave” Lewis Hamilton, Ohio 11-24-2014

Discovering André Caplet


One intensely involved special interest of mine is discovering, evaluating and — often — enjoying the music of classical composers who haven’t a gotten a fair shake in terms of posterior reputation. For those anti-posterior composers — present company included — it is hard enough to make any headway in a world which no longer seems to care much about classical music. It was always a cultivated taste, and it remains popular in some quarters, primarily in Europe and in Japan. But let’s face it; classicists are not going to beat the time of guitar-slung fellas that sing about girls, trucks and girls and trucks. So if you are a composer of the dead variety, and are unknown, so much the worse for you.

Actually, André Caplet (1878-1925) ought not to be unknown at all, and in a sense IS known outside of his native France, but for some practical transformations he made of the works of a composer friend far better known than he. In the broadcast segment included below — more about which we’ll hear in a minute — I erred in saying that Caplet’s worklist is small; I was relying on the one in Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians, the only one available to me at the time. Since then, some online worklists have surfaced that demonstrate Caplet was quite busy as a composer in addition to conducting and fixing up the music of others. Born in Le Havre in 1878 (or ’79, depending on the source), Caplet began to compose at the age of 12 and went to Paris to commence formal study in 1895. In 1901, he won the prestigious Prix de Rome of the Paris Conservatory with his cantata Myrrha, beating out his slightly older contemporary Maurice Ravel. Shortly afterward, Caplet began a long friendship with Claude Debussy and orchestrated several of Debussy’s later works, including parts of Le martyre de Saint Sébastien; not my favorite Debussy project, but one much admired by Olivier Messaien. Also, Caplet gained traction as a reputable conductor and was appointed to the staff of the Boston Opera in 1910; he was named music director in 1912. But with the outbreak of World War I he left his post and signed up for the French Army. Gassed in the trenches, Caplet barely survived and his last years were marked by declining health, though these also witness a steady stream of compositions including the cantata Le miroir de Jésus, mystères du Rosaire (1923), said to be his masterpiece; I’ve never heard it, but I used to stock recordings of it when I was in classical retail.

The radio show linked below was an “Anti-Halloween” show I did in Ann Arbor, October 23, 2008, the week before Halloween; “Mr. Hunchback,” i.e. Keith Larsen, covered the Halloween show proper the following week. I comment, from the perspective of 2008, how 9/11 led to a decrease of interest in the holiday, and I am happy to report that since it has bounced back. I suspect that its value as a marketing tool ultimately won the day rather than any other factor in its favor, and this year Halloween products were on the shelves as early as late August. Caplet’s Conte fantastique is about as ideal a Halloween piece as anyone could expect from classical music, but it is very seldom heard outside of the advocacy that harp players have made for it. Caplet made two versions of it; the second, for harp and orchestra, was created in 1919 (or 1923, depending on the source you read) and it was the first music of Caplet I ever heard back in the 1980s, included as filler on an LP otherwise devoted to the furtive fragments of Debussy’s attempt to convert Edgar Allan Poe’s story “The Fall of the House of Usher” into an opera. Even as superb as the Debussy is, the Caplet really caught my attention, with its rapping on the harp and soaring glissandi in an indefinable combination of keys. I have since come to prefer the earlier chamber version, written in 1908.

The hideous cover image used on the original 1985 US Capitol/Angel release of Debussy's "The Fall of the House of Usher." I've never this cover on the web; EMI CDs use the image from the French release.
The hideous cover image used on the original 1985 US Capitol/Angel release of Debussy’s “The Fall of the House of Usher.” I’ve never seen this cover on the web; EMI CDs use the image from the French release.

When listening to Conte fantastique, it is helpful to know what else was going around it. 1908 was something of a watershed year in the development of modernism, particularly as Arnold Schoenberg composed his Three Piano Pieces Op. 11 that year, the works in which it is generally said that Schoenberg ushered in the practice of “free atonality” or music written outside of a key signature. That year also witnessed Schoenberg’s student Anton Webern’s Op. 1, the Passacaglia for orchestra, Charles Ives wrote The Unanswered Question, Bela Bartók wrote his Ten Easy Pieces, including “Bear Dance,” Stravinsky his Four Etudes Op. 8 and Scriabin completed his Poem of Ecstasy. Finally, Debussy wrote his light and eternally popular Children’s Corner that year, which Caplet later orchestrated, and Ravel his Gaspard de la nuit. Prokofiev would not begin to publish until the following year.

In terms of modernity and advancement of musical language, Conte fantastique would rank very high on this list; short sections of it veer close to atonality and, while French impressionism remains the basic recipe, Caplet is finding new ways to bake the cake. While it is customary to award the French impressionists, and Debussy in particular, for ushering in the era of modernism in music, there is likewise an idea that after 1905 that impressionism is already rather derrière-garde; that the front lines of modernism cedes to other, less fanciful figures writing less piquant and elegant — and therefore, tougher music. Indeed, I well remember a French CD which included Debussy’s La fille aux cheveux de lin as played from a piano roll in a program of upper middle class Café concert music. Was impressionism really considered so de riguer already in 1908? And didn’t it continue to move forward in its own way, in the music of Tournemire, Cyril Scott, Messaien, and Dutilleux? Henri Dutilleux, by the way, was a great admirer of Caplet’s Epiphanie for cello and orchestra (1922) and asked that it be included as filler on a recording of his own Tout un monde lointain … (1970).

The discography at andre-caplet.fr makes it clear that his work has been adequately recorded, albeit mostly on French labels exported into the United States on an erratic basis. I have seen many of these releases but have not heard a great many. The 1935 Quatour Calvet French HMV recording of Caplet’s 1909 Septuor à cordes vocales et instrumentales for three sopranos and string quartet is one of the weirdest historical classical recordings I’ve ever heard, and his practice of writing for wordless vocal groups anticipates by nearly a decade pieces like Milhaud’s L’homme et son désir, which was still viewed as cutting edge when first heard in 1923. All of this makes an enterprising mind like mine wonder where Caplet fits in the development of modernism and in twentieth century music in general. Does Caplet form an essential link between the impressionists born before 1900 and later French composers working in a more advanced style, or was he simply a minor figure who orchestrated Debussy because the great — but by 1909, terminally ill — man was unable to do so himself? I suspect it isn’t easy to know the answer, but it is something that makes me curious.

In regard to the broadcast, it runs 55 minutes, and the Caplet starts at about 31 minutes in. If you don’t care for the mostly Baroque music that precedes it, then by all means, skip ahead. — Uncle Dave Lewis, Hamilton, OH 9-14-2014

The Uncle Dave Show: Anti-Halloween Part 1 10-23-2008 WCBN-FM Ann Arbor, Michigan


Nice Caplet Summary with Album Reviews in Badly Translated English


French page with concise worklist, great pictures


Comprehensive, multi-level website for Caplet; great, contains whatever you’d want to know about him, but you need to know at least some French


Preliminary Ohio Entertainment Superlist

This evening (8-13-2014) I am to present an overview on Cincinnati recording and entertainment history. This list began as a Cincinnati list only and I experimentally added the information and formatting in regard to historic regions elsewhere in Ohio, mainly as a demonstration for someone looking for a more expanded, statewide review. To my profound embarrassment, this is the state the list is in for now, but I need it in a web accessible form for my talk. Please feel free to add entries or comment, as long as your comment is not along the lines of accusing me of being a Cincinnati-centric snob. This is a work in progress, one that will remain in progress for years. — Uncle Dave Lewis

Superlist of Ohio Entertainment

Region I Cincinnati: Hamilton, Butler, Warren, Clermont, Brown, Adams, Clinton, Highland. Major
cities: Cincinnati, Hamilton, Lebanon, Oxford, Middletown, Wilmington

11000 Switches (1980-1988) key artpunk band, morphed into electronics mid-80s, Hospital
2 of Clubs (fl. 1966-1969) girl garage band duo, Fraternity
Peter Aaron, singer, guitarist, leader of The Chrome Cranks, founded in Cincinnati, 1989
Danny Adler (b. 1949) blues singer, guitarist The Roogalator, Stiff Records
Afghan Whigs (1986-2001; reformed) national act, Subpop, Elektra and later Sony contract
Eddie Albert (1906-2005) actor, WLW
The Ambushers (fl. 1972) Fred Leonard and George Thompson, Counterpart
James L. Andem (1869-1930) head of Ohio Phonograph Company
Charlie Alexander (1890-1970) jazz pianist, worked with Louis Armstrong
The Amoebamen (ca. 1988-90) heavy metal/punk group headed by Jason Gnarr
Lou Anderson, tuba player, jazz musician, entrepreneur
Ass Ponys (1988-2005) alt.rock group, Okra, A&M Records, Shake It
The Auburnaires (1982-1990?) popular local group with Jim Cole & Forrest Bivens
The Bad Seeds (fl. 1972) Erlanger, KY based psych band, Columbia
Bernd Baierdschmidt (1938-1984) record store manager, Kidd’s, Newberry, Mole’s
Marty Balin (b. 1942) singer, songwriter with Jefferson Airplane/Starship
Balderdash (1970-73) progressive group, opened for Zappa & Steppenwolf
Theda Bara (1890-1955) silent film actress
Red Barber (1908-1992) broadcaster, WLW
Delbert Barker (b. 1932) singer, King, Rite, local TV
David “Bart” Bartholomew (1927-2012) broadcaster, historian
Kathleen Battle, operatic soprano, CCM grad, New World Records
Dan Beddoe (1863-1937) tenor, CCM educator, Rainbow, English Columbia
Beef (1977-1979) the first Cincinnati punk band, played WAIF
Leon “Bix” Beiderbecke (1903-1931) jazz cornetist/pianist, member of The Original Wolverines
Adrian Belew (b. 1949) guitarist, member of King Crimson, The Bears
Herman Bellstedt, (1858-1926) composer, educator, cornet virtuoso
Johnny Bench (b. 1945) Reds catcher, would-be singer
Boyd Bennett (1924-2002) singer, bandleader, King Records
Eddie Bennett, (deceased) singer, trombonist, WLWT, Fun Bunch
Fred Bennignus, (deceased) radio personality, “Camp Meeting,” WGUC
Matt Berninger (b. 1971) lead singer, The National
Andy Biersack (b. 1990) lead singer, Black Veil Brides, SCPA alum
The Bittersweets (1965-69) all girl band from Dayton, briefly resident in Cincinnati
The Black Watch (1966-69) psych band, very popular, recorded, but never issued
Blackearth Percussion Ensemble (1974-1980) CCM-based ensemble, later PGC, Opus One
Blacklight Braille (1980-1987) studio band, successor to Bitter Blood, Vetco
Bitter Blood Street Theater (fl. 1970-76) psychedelic group, Mt. Adams, Vetco
Emery Blades (b. 1928) rockabilly singer & songwriter; Ruby, Arvis labels
Blanco Nombre [and the Babettes] (1983-1992), surf band with later female singers
Darren Blase, founder of Shake It record store, record exec
Blaze (i) (fl. 1975) soul group, Epic Records
Blaze (ii) (fl. 1986-89) cover band, led by Christopher Mark Lewis, Sudsy Malone’s
Philip P. Bliss (1836-1876) Gospel composer, briefly based in Cincinnati
The Blue Dells aka The Bluedells (1966-69) psych band, Starfire Records
Blue Wisp Jazz Band (b. ca. 1975) big band, in house group at Blue Wisp
Tiny Bradshaw (1907-1958) composer, singer, pianist, King Records
Bonnie Lou (b. 1924) singer, entertainer, WLWT, King Records
Bovine Militia (fl. 1985-87) alt.folk combo led by J.R.
Bobby Borchers (b. 1952) country singer, Epic Records, Playboy Records
Jim Borgman (b. 1954) cartoonist
Ed Bosken, entrepreneur, co-founder of QCA
Jim Bosken, engineer, QCA
Lee Bosken, entrepreneur, co-founder of QCA
Earl Bostic (1913-1965) saxophonist, bandleader, King Records
BPA (b. 1981) legendary local alt.rock group
Marty Brennaman (b. 1942) sportscaster, retired voice of the Reds Radio Network
Bob Braun (1929-2001) singer, many records, host for WLWT, radio personality
Mike Breen, journalist, CityBeat
David Rhodes Brown, guitarist, The Attitude, Warsaw Falcons, Rabbit Hash Festival founder
Frank Brown (1931-1984) jazz trumpeter, entrepreneur
James Brown (1933-2006) the “Godfather of Soul,” King Records
Alan Browning, WKRC radio host
Bruce Brownfield, bandleader Paul Dixon show
Bucking Strap (1987-90), country group headed by Anna Scala
Gary Burbank, WLW radio host
Carl Burkhardt, entrepreneur, founder of Rite Records
Joe Busam, WMKV producer, collector, historian
Jerry Byrd, steel guitarist, WLW, WCKY, recorded at Herzog
Eddie Byron, creator of “Moon River” WLW
Reggie Calloway, soul musician, Midnight Star, Calloway
Vincent Calloway, soul musician, Midnight Star, Calloway
Una Mae Carlisle (1915-1956) singer, pianist, WLW
Carload of Sheep, group
Harry Carlson, songwriter, producer, founder of Fraternity Records
Theodore “Wingie” Carpenter (1898-1975) jazz trumpeter with Zack Whyte
Cathy Carr (1936-1988) singer, Fraternity, Coral, Smash etc., never resident
Ruth Carrell (1909-1992) songwriter, wife of Jimmie Dodd
Mel Carter (b. 1943) singer, actor, Imperial Records
The Casinos, vocal group, national hit with “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye”
CCM Philharmonia, resident symphony orchestra of CCM
George Chakiris (b. 1934) actor, dancer
Chalk (fl. 1995) key experimental rock group with Dave Rohs
Jerry Chambers (d. 2012) bassist, Dennis the Menace
Randy Cheek, multi-instrumentalist, member of Dream 286, Ass Ponys, Fairmount Girls
David T. Chastain (b. 1963) heavy metal/Christian guitarist; CJSS, SPIKE
Mark Chenault (d. 2010) drummer, The Auburnaires, The Erector Set, others
Herman Chittison (1908-1967) jazz pianist, started with Chocolate Beau Brummels
Chocolate Beau Brummels (fl. 1929-30) black jazz band led by Zach Whyte, Gennett
Chubb-Steinberg Orchestra (fl. 1924-25) jazz band, early broadcaster, Gennett, Okeh
Cincinnati Joe (deceased) and Mad Lydia, psychedelic duo, River Witch
Cincinnati Jug Band (fl. 1929) group led by Bob & Walter Coleman, Paramount
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, (b. 1895) America’s third oldest symphony body
Chuck Cleaver, singer-songwriter, Gomez, Wussy, Ass Ponys
Fausto Cleva (1902-1971) music director, Zoo Summer Opera 1934-1963, CCSO 1947-1951
Betty Clooney (1931-1976) singer, WLW, member of Clooney Sisters
George Clooney (b. 1961) actor, director, WKRCT personality (in adolescence)
Nick Clooney (b. 1935) singer, TV host, newsman, WCPO & WKRCT
Nina Clooney, WKRCT personality
Rosemary Clooney (1928-2002) jazz singer, actress, member of Clooney sisters
The Clooney Sisters (1944-1950) Rosemary & Betty, with Tony Pastor, Columbia Records
Bob Coleman (1906-1966) blues singer, Paramount/Decca Records
Walter Coleman (1911-1937) blues singer, Paramount/Decca Records
Cal Collins (1933-2001) jazz guitarist, Benny Goodman Sextet
William “Bootsy” Collins (b. 1951) bassist, singer, member of JBs, Parliament-Funkadelic
Lloyd Estal “Cowboy” Copas (1913-1963) singer, WLW, WKRC, King Records
Croatan (b. 1991) hard artpunk band, fronted by Jenny Zeilman
Powel Crosley, Jr. (1886-1961) inventor, entrepreneur, father of WLW & Crosley Broadcasting
Crossword Smile, rock group
Bernie Cummins, jazz bandleader, Gennett
John Curley, bassist Afghan Whigs, Len’s Lounge, Fists of Love, co-founder/owner Ultrasuede
The Customs (ca. 1980-82) alt.rock group, predecessor to The Auburnaires, Shake It
William M. Daly (1887-1936) composer, Broadway conductor, worked with George Gershwin
Jerry Daniels (1915-1995) tenor, guitarist, WLW, future Ink Spot
Gustave Dannreuther (1853-1923) violinist, founder of the Dannreuther Quartet
Jim “Jimmy D” Davidson, guitarist, entrepreneur, member The Buddy Bradley Experience
Dave Davis, singer, guitarist, engineer QCA, co-founder Ultrasuede, The All Night Party
Rev. W.D. Davis, singer, preacher, local broadcaster
Wild Bill Davison (1906-1989) jazz trumpeter, member of Chubb-Steinberg Orchestra
Doris Day (b. 1923) singer, actress, sang with Barney Rapp, WLW; later, movie/TV star
J. Walter De Vaux (1892-1952) Masonic organist, record exec, composer
Vivienne Della Chiesa (1915-2009) opera singer, WLWT
The Delmore Brothers, Alton (1908-1964) and Rabon (1916-1952), King Records, WLW
Dementia Precox (1980-1990) Dayton-based industrial group headed by Gyn Cameron (d. 2011)
The Dents (1978-80) pioneering New Wave/punk band fronted by Vivian Vinyl
Devil Nut Mother Hole (fl.1985-1990) large, loud and theatrical rock group
Diatomaceous Ooze (fl. 1989-91) Oxford-based experimental band, recorded at Ulatrasuede
William E. Dickinson, educator, co-founder SCPA, discredited in scandal
Jim Dine (b 1935) painter, sculptor, first tier Pop Artist
William Howard Doane (1832-1915) industrialist, hymn composer, instrument collector
Carl Dobkins, Jr. (b. 1941) singer, Fraternity Records
Doc and the Pods (1983-199?), good-time new wave band, led by Bryce Rhude
Jimmie Dodd (1910-1964) actor, songwriter, WLW
Bill Doggett (1916-1996) organist, bandleader, King Records
Mel Doherty, bandleader and very early WLW, French Bauer Record
Bo Donaldson & the Heywoods (fl. 1972) rock band, national hit
Paul Dixon (1918-1974) disc jockey, Cincinnati TV host, comedy pioneer
Greg Dulli, singer/guitarist Afghan Whigs, The Twilight Singers, The Gutter Twins
George Duning (1908-2000) film composer, CCM alum
Frank Duveneck (1848-1919) portrait painter, graphic artist, Art Academy professor
Therese Edell (deceased) folk singer, songwriter, activist
The Edge (1984-1991) punk band led by Victor Garcia-Rivera
Thomas Alva Edison (1842-1931) playback inventor, telegrapher in Cincinnati 1862-69
Carl Edmondson, songwriter, producer, Fraternity
Carmen Electra, actress, cable TV personality, SCPA alum
Anita Ellis (b. 1920) singer, WLW
William Lee Ellis, gospel blues singer & guitarist, son of Tony Ellis
Brother Claude Ely (1922-1978) Gospel singer & preacher, broadcaster, King, Jewel Records
Mike Enright, artist, Ed Davis Band, We’re Just Like You
The Erector Set (fl. 1984) local group
George Evans (b. 1963) jazz singer, active in Canada, SCPA alum
Betty Everett, soul singer, recorded by James Brown
Melissa Fairmount, singer, organist with Fairmount Girls, Murkins
Fairmount Girls (b. 1997) longstanding alt.rock group, Deary Me
Burt Farber (deceased), Society dance band leader, composer of “Fountain Square”
Henry Farny (1847-1916) painter and illustrator
Dee Felice (deceased), jazz drummer, entrepreneur, WNOP broadcaster
H-Bomb Ferguson (1929-2006) blues singer & pianist, King, Prestige
Henry Fillmore (1881-1956) march composer, publisher & bandleader
Eddie Fingers, WEBN radio personality
Ira Joe Fisher (b. 1947) WRKCT host, meteorologist
Frank Foster (1928-2011) bandleader, arranger, took over Count Basie band
Stephen Foster (1824-1864) songwriter, in Cincinnati 1846-49; “O Susanna”
Peter Frampton (b. 1950) singer, guitarist, resettled in Cincinnati area, national act
Harry Frankel aka “Singin’ Sam” (1888-1948) singer, WLW, Gennett/Decca Records
Freddy and the Water Shortage, band
Jane Froman (1907-1980) singer, actress, WLW, Victor Records
Earl Fuller (1885-1947) bandleader & composer, popular recording artist in 1917-1919
The Fun Bunch, fraternity of WLWT performers centered in the 50-50 Club
Charlie Fuqua (1910-1971) baritone, guitarist, WLW, future Ink Spot
Leslie Isaiah Gaines, blues singer, funeral home director
Al Gandee (1900-1943) trombonist, member of The Original Wolverines
Oscar Gandy, (deceased) jazz musician and educator, SCPA
Jani Gardner, WKRCT personality, hostess
Michael Gielen (b. 1927) composer, music director CCSO 1980-1986
Q. Reed Ghazala, composer, inventor, father of circuit bending
Jay Gilbert, WEBN radio personality, producer, founder of Fifth Floor
Haven Gillespie (1888-1975) composer, entrepreneur
Henry Glover (1921-1991) composer, arranger, King Records producer
Jane Glover, educator, wife of Henry Glover
Billy Golden aka William B. Shires (1858-1926) minstrel entertainer, pioneer recording artist
David Goldsmith, writer, producer for television and Broadway, SCPA alum
Eugene Goossens (1893-1963) composer, music director CCSO 1931-1946
Goshorn Bros., Danny and Larry, members of The Sacred Mushroom and Pure Prairie League
Peter Grant (deceased), newscaster, personality WLWT, Fun Bunch
Elaine Green, newscaster, WCPOT
Janet Greene (b. 1930) singer, WCPOT personality, Christian activist originally from Hamilton
The Greenhornes (b. 1989) alt.rock group, V2 Records
The Ken Hacker Society (fl. 1974) pop group
David Hagedorn, “Luthor the Geek,” singer of Daddy, Devil Nut Mother Hole
Milt Hall (fl. 1897-1909), ragtime composer, possibly Cincinnati resident
Doug Hallet, keyboards The Dents, Latex Theatre, Dream 286, Danse Macabre
Joe Hamm, drummer for Dream 286, Buddy Bradley Experience
Darrell Handel, composer, CCM educator
Wynonie Harris (1915-1969), singer, King Records
Wayne Hartman, engineer, co-founder of Group Effort
The Healing System (1989-2008) free jazz ensemble headed by Victor Buttram (d. 2008)
Heartless Bastards, national alt.rock act headed by Erika Wennerstrom
Pat Hennessey, guitarist for The Thangs, Fairmount Girls
Robert Henri (1865-1929) painter, leading figure in the Ashcan school
The Hi-Watts, band
Jess Hirbe, manager, Mole’s Record Exchange
E.T. “Bucky” Herzog, engineer, co-founder of Herzog studio, WLW
Joel Hoffman, composer, current head of CCM
Libby Holman (1904-1971) torch singer, Broadway star
Beth Holzer-Wilson, singer, leader Lovely Crash, ex-Fairmount Girls
John Lee Hooker (1916-2010) Gospel singer & guitarist, resident 1938-1948
Waite Hoyt (1899-1984) sportscaster, Cincinnati Reds, King Records
T. Scott Huston (deceased), composer, Ives editor, Dean of CCM
Miles Ingram, founder Subway Records, host “No More White Gloves,” WAIF
Iovae, industrial musician, Art Damage Foundation co-founder, WAIF host
The Isley Brothers (b. 1954) soul group, founded in Cincinnati, moved to New Jersey
Jack Ison, experimental musician, Recollectio
Ivan and the Sabers/Sixth Day Creation (1960-1972) garage band, Counterpart etc.
Alex Jackson and his Plantation Orchestra (fl. 1927) black jazz band, Gennett
Paavo Järvi (b. 1962) CCSO music director 2001-2011
Little Willie John (1937-1968) soul singer, King Records
Arthur V. Johnson (1876-1916) silent film actor and director
Carl Johnson, organist, radio performer
Thor Johnson (1913-1975) music director CCSO 1951-1958, Remington Records
Jennifer Jolley, composer, CCM professor, co-founder NANOworks opera
Bob Jones, WKRC radio & TV host
Louis Marshall “Grandpa” Jones (1913-1998) singer, King Records, WLW
Orville “Hoppy” Jones (1902-1944), bass, bassist, WLW, future Ink Spot
Jane Jordan, bassist & singer for The Jane Band, Murkins, Fairmount Girls
Joe Jordan (1882-1971) ragtime and broadway show composer, pianist
Junta (fl. 1983-86) theatrical and important new wave group, Deary Me
John N. Khlor (1869-1956) band composer, published by Church
Owen Knight, singer, saw player, Bitter Blood, Blacklight Braille
Rich King, WKRC radio host
Durward Kirby (1911-2000) actor, TV personality
Chris Koltay, producer, engineer Ultrasuede; now in Detroit MI
Jonathan Kramer (deceased), composer, CCM professor, annotator New York Philharmonic
Ernst Kunwald (1868-1939) music director CCSO, 1912-1917, Columbia Records
Erich Kunzel (1935-2009) music director of the Cincinnati Pops, prolific Telarc artist
Ed Labunski (d. 1979) producer, Fraternity, collaborator with Lonnie Mack
Felix Labunski (1899-1979) composer, educator
Drew Lachey, singer, SCPA alum
Nick Lachey, actor, singer, SCPA alum
Henry Lange (1896-1990), pianist, composer, bandleader, Gennett, Edison
LaSalle Quartet (1946-1987) resident at CCM, recorded for DGG
Cliff Lash (deceased), pianist, leader 50/50 club band, Fun Bunch
Katie Laur, bluegrass singer
The Lemon Pipers (1966-1969) psychedelic pop band from Oxford, OH
James Levine (b. 1943) asst conductor CCSO, music director Boston Symphony
“Uncle” Al Lewis (1926-2009) children’s TV host, WCPOT
Lennie Lewis (fl. 1945) bandleader, Queen Records
Wanda “Captain Windy” Lewis, children’s TV host, WCPOT
The Libertines US aka The Rituals (b. 1984) alt.rock band, led by Walt Hodge, Day One
Lu Linden, drummer, Bitter Blood Street Theatre, Qi-ZZ, Dementia Precox
Scott Lindroth, composer, educator, CRI, Centaur Records
Janis Crystal Lipzin, singer, The Attitude, filmmaker, performance artist
Little Jack Little (1899-1956) singer, WLW
Jesús López-Cobos (b. 1940) music director CCSO 1986-2000
Frank Lovejoy (1912-1962) actor, WLW
Love Cowboys/Liquid Hippos (fl. 1982-85) originally from Oxford, forerunner to Afghan Whigs
George B. Luks (1867-1933) painter, cartoonist, figure within the Ashcan School
Lunch Buddies (fl. 1982-83) Chuck Cleaver’s first band, with Walt Hodge & Dan Kliengers
Ralph Lyford (1882-1927) CCM head, Summer Opera founder & director 1920-1927
Stan Lynch (b. 1955) drummer for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Ruth Lyons (1908-1989) singer, composer, WLW exec, mother of talk show format
Lonnie Mack (b. 1941) guitarist, Fraternity, Alligator, national act
Major Morgan and the Wastebaskets (fl. 1985) experimental group with Corbett Stepp
Mana-Zucca (1885-1981) composer, singer, actress
Charles Manson (b. 1934) singer, conman, mass murderer
Manwitch aka Fix Me a Sandwich (1985-87) influential, noisy rock band fronted by Lara Allen
Artie Matthews (1880-1958) composer, educator, founder of Cosmopolitan Conservatory
Winsor McCay (1869-1934) cartoonist, creator of Little Nemo, pioneer animator
Smilin’ Ed McConnell (1882-1954) broadcaster, WLW
Dave McCoy, WLWT, member of Fun Bunch, discredited in scandal
Jerry McGeorge (b. 1945) guitarist with Shadows of Knight, HP Lovecraft
Marion McKay, jazz bandleader, Gennett
Big Jay McNeeley (b. 1924) jazz saxophonist, King Records
Mike Martini, WVXU producer, radio historian
Terry Melcher (1942-2004) producer, arranger, singer, son of Doris Day
Middlemarch (fl. 1989-90) group with Wesley Pence, Chris Rogers, played Sudsy’s
Ray Miller (ca. 1895- after 1930) bandleader
Donald Mills (1915-1999) singer with The Mills Brothers
Harry Mills (1913-1982) singer with The Mills Brothers
Herbert Mills (1912-1989) singer and guitarist with The Mills Brothers
John Mills, Jr. (1910-1936) lead singer of The Mills Brothers
The Mills Brothers (1928-1936) vocal group from Piqua, WLW
Mr. Dibbs aka Brad Forste, turntablist, hip hop artist
The Modulators (ca. 1978-2010?) longstanding local party band
The Monitor Boys, singing duo, early WLW, Gennett
The Mortals (fl. 1986-90) latter-day psych band headed by Steve Gatch
Ed Moss, jazz pianist, entrepreneur
The Mudlarks, group featuring Lamb, Jimmy D, Todd Witt
Moon Mullican (1909-1967) singer, pianist, non-resident western swing/rock pioneer, King
Dan Murphy, engineer, co-founder of Group Effort Sound Studios
Larry Nager, bluegrass musician, journalist, historian
Conlon Nancarrow (1912-1997) composer, CCM alum, ex-pat player piano avant-gardist
Nebulagirl, composer, chemist, graphic artist, circuit bender
Bill Nimmo (1917-2011) actor, TV and radio personality, WLW perfomer
Syd Nathan (1904-1968) entrepreneur, founder of King Records
Sam Nation (d. 2010) guitarist, The Thirteens
The New Lime, garage band from N. Ky., Counterpart
Rebecca Shepard Reed Nichols (1819-1903) lyricist, poet
Brian Niesz, guitarist, engineer/producer at The All Night Party, Ultrasuede and WOXY
Nocturne Lament, group
Dick Noel aka Ken Richards, singer, WLW, Fraternity
Shawn Norton, engineer
Joe Nuxhall (1928-2007) sportscaster, on the Reds Radio Network with Marty Brennaman
Ricky Nye, blues pianist, member The Raisins
Bob Nyswonger, bassist, The Raisins, The Bears
James Francis Patrick O’Neill, WLW radio host
Shad O’Shea (1936-2001), record exec, country music gadfly, head of Fraternity Records
Annie Oakley (1860-1926) record setting sharpshooter, very early motion picture actress
Sy Oliver (1910-1988) pianist, bandleader, arranger, started with the Chocolate Beau Brummels
The Original Wolverines (1922-1925) seminal jazz band, established in Hamilton/Cincinnati
Allen Otte, percussionist, CCM professor, member of Blackearth and PGC
The Outcasts, psych group from Ashland, Ky.
Richard F. Outcault (1863-1928) cartoonist, father of comic strip
Over the Rhine (b. 1989) instrumentalist Linford Detweiler and vocalist Karin Bergquist
Cleveland Page, pianist, pedagogue, former CCM professor
Patti Page (1924-2013) singer, hit “Detour” recorded at Herzog in 1950
Sarah Jessica Parker, actress, producer, SCPA alum
Hank Penny (1918-1992) singer, songwriter, King Records, WLW
Percussion Group Cincinnati (b. 1980) CCM ensemble, headed by Allen Otte
W.C. Peters (1805-1866) composer, music publisher
Philip Phillips (1834-1895) pioneering evangelist, Gospel songwriter & publisher
Janette Pierce, singer/guitarist/songwriter Latex Theatre, Dream 286, Danse Macabre
The Poppin’ Wheelies, group
Tyrone Power (1914-1958) actor
Frank Powers (1931-2004) jazz clarinetist, arranger and historian
Frank Proto (b. 1941) composer, double bassist with CCSO 1967-1998
Pure Prairie League (b. 1970) country rock group, formed in Waverly
Kenny Price (1931-1987) country singer, entertainer, Boone, Fraternity, WLWT
Ragamuffin Brave, group
The Raisins (1978-1988) rock group fronted by Rob Fetters; also Bob Nyswonger, Bam Powell
Teddy Rakel, arranger, composer associated with 50/50 Club
Wayne Raney (1921-1993) singer, songwriter, studio & label head
Barney Rapp (1900-1970) bandleader, booking agent, talent scout
Belinda Rawlins, host “Bubbles in the Think Tank,” WAIF
The Ready Stance, group with Wesley Pence, Randy Cheek
Louis Rebisso (1837-1899) Italian-born sculptor, statue of Benjamin Harrison in Piatt Park
Redmath (fl. 1984-89) New wave group
Dan Reed, singer, The Buddy Bradley Experience, promoter, WVXU personality
LA Reid (b. 1956) producer, exec at LaFace, Arista, Island Def Jam, Epic
Katie Reider (deceased) folk singer, songwriter, activist
Rob Reider, singer, entertainer, WLWT, Fun Bunch
Fritz Reiner (1888-1963) music director CCSO 1922-1931
Rhythm Addicts (fl. 1980-84) Oxford-based New Wave band
Harry Richman (1895-1972) entertainer and actor
Michael Riley (1940-2010) entrepreneur, WAIF radio personality
Ritalin (fl. 1987-89) quirky experimental band with Corbett Stepp, Mark Mounts
Homer Rodeheaver (1880-1955) singer, Gospel publisher, record exec, led session in 1921
Roy Rogers (1911-1998) singer, actor, “King of the Cowboys”
Walter B. Rogers (1865-1939) CCM grad, Sousa’s Band member, leader of Victor Orchestra
Karolyn Rose, first wife of Pete Rose, WKRCT personality
Pete Rose (b. 1941) baseball all-time hits king, discredited
Steven Rosen, journalist, historian, CityBeat
Francis Rosevear (1912-2010) composer, community musician, inventor
The Roy-Cliffs, keyboard duo, Gateway, Ci-Sum
Max Rudolf (1902-1995) CCSO music director 1958-1970, Decca Gold Label
Janice Rule (1931-2003) actress
Vivian “Vinyl” Rusche, singer, videographer, WKRCT, WLWT, We’re Just Like You
George Russell (1923-2009) jazz composer, theorist, educator
Elliott V. Ruther, head, Cincinnati Music Heritage Foundation
Bevo Ruzsa, singer of punk band Human Zoo (fl. 1985-1990), Hospital
Glenn “Skipper” Ryle (1927-1993) WCET and WKRCT
Jack Saatkamp (1897-1958) jazz pianist, bandleader, WLW, Gennett
The Sacred Mushroom (fl. 1969) psychedelic rock group led by the Goshorns
Sad Sam (fl. 1965) African-American stand-up comedian, recorded by James Brown
The Salivators, (fl. 1984-5) alt.rock group, led by Pete Frenzer, played JR’s
Gerhard Samuel (deceased), composer, conductor, educator at CCM
Allen Sapp (1922-1999) composer, Dean of CCM
Saucy Sylvia (b. 1921) pianist & entertainer, WLW
Thomas Schippers (1930-1977), conductor, music director CCSO 1970-1977
Al Schottelkotte (1927-1996) newsman, WCPO
Chris Schadler, drummer of Fairmount Girls
Henry Schradieck (1846-1918) violinist, CCM professor, CCSO concertmaster
Schwah (fl. 1988-89) key underground band, played Sudsy’s
Jim Scott, WSAI, WKRC radio host
Sea of Storms, underground band featuring Dave Rohs, Mark Milano
Rod Serling (1924-1975) author, screenwriter, host of “Twilight Zone,” Dumont writer
Shag (fl. Mid-1980s) underground band with Chris Donnelly, Mark Chenault
Mark Shafer, painter, performance artist, circuit bender
Colleen Sharp, singer, entertainer, WLWT, Fun Bunch
Gary Shell, engineer, WAIF radio host, entrepreneur
Bob Shreve (1912-1990) comedian, singer, host on WCPOT and WKRCT
Bonia Shur, composer
Itaal Shur, keyboardist, Grammy winning songwriter
Frank Simon (1889-1967) cornet virtuoso, founder of the Armco Band, Gennett
Jeanne Ezelle Simons (deceased), founder of The Clovernotes
Red Skelton (1913-1997) actor, comedian, TV star, WLW
Jimmie Skinner (1909-1979) singer, radio personality, entrepreneur
Sluggo (fl. 1984-6; reformed) definitive hardcore act, fronted by Julian Bevan
Kenny Smith, soul singer & funk pioneer, Fraternity
Larry Smith, puppeteer, TV children’s host, WCPOT, WXIX
Mamie Smith (1883-1946) blues singer, actress, first black woman to record blues
Marian Spelman (deceased) singer, entertainer, Fun Bunch, WLWT
Stephen Spielberg (b. 1946) film director, spent part of childhood in Cincinnati
Harry Spindler (1893-1961) jazz bandleader
Jerry Springer (b. 1944) discredited Cincinnati mayor, talk show host
SS-20 aka AK-47 (b. 1984?) longstanding punk band led by Robert “Jughead” Sturdevant
James William “Indian Bill” Stallard, aka Billy Starr (1913-1981) singer, WLW, King
Starstruck/RamJam (1974-77) successor to Lemon Pipers, national hit with “Black Betty”
Leopold Stokowski (1882-1977) music director CCSO 1909-1912, afterward with Philadelphia
Walter Susskind (1913-1980) music director CCSO 1977-1980
Martin Sweidel, composer, CCM alum
Mike Tangi (d. 1995), songwriter, singer, “The Kwik Brothers”
Sidney Ten Eyck (1904-1990) WLW, “Doodlesockers” program
The Thangs, (fl. 1984-1989) local rock group, single
Henry Theis (1890-1936) jazz bandleader; WLW, Gennett, RCA Victor
Throneberry (fl. 1984-1994) originally from Oxford; forerunners of the Afghan Whigs
Ruth Thum, singer with The Sunshine Party, Christian group with Rex Humbard
James Tocco, pianist, CCM professor
Steve Tracey, blues chronicler, author
Clyde Trask (fl. ca. 1946) bandleader, Radio Artist
Merle Travis (1917-1983) guitarist, composer, King Records, WLW
Oscar Treadwell (1926-2006) radio host “Jazz with OT” WGUC
Paul Trupin (1958-1992) singer, guitarist, leader of News/Fourth Estate
Twister (fl. 1984-87) underground band headed by Adam Smith; mentioned by The Fall
Leo Underhill, WNOP radio host
The Uninvited Guests (fl. 1987-91) alt.rock group
Us Too Group, garage band (1966-1969) Counterpart
Frank Van der Stucken (1858-1929) composer, first music director of CCSO 1895-1905
Vera-Ellen (1921-1981) actress, singer, dancer
Frank Vincent, jazz pianist, arranger
Larry Vincent (1900-1977) entertainer, composer, record exec & Dumont
Dick Von Hoene (1940-2004) producer, entertainer as “The Cool Ghoul,” WXIX
Kathy Wade, jazz singer, educator
Annie Wagner (d. 2013) radio personality “When Swing was King,” WVXU, WMKV
Bill Walters (b. 1932) singer, WLW entertainer, Fun Bunch, Candee, Jewel
Thomas “Fats” Waller (1904-1943) pianist, singer, composer, WLW
Ivory “Deek” Watson (1909-1969) tenor, tenor guitarist, WLW, future Ink Spot
William Gilmore Weber III, guitarist in Chrome Cranks, Murder Junkies
Weber’s Prize Band (fl. 1895-1920) brass band, Victor, Edison, Gennett
Zach Whyte, jazz banjoist, leader of the Chocolate Beau Brummels, Gennett
Dave Widow, blues guitarist, bandleader now resident in Los Angeles
Andy Williams (1927-2012) singer, Williams Bros., WLW
Daniel Williams, electronic musician, Art Damage co-founder, Damage Records
Ed Williams, entertainer, Applegate
Stanley “Fess” Williams (1894-1975) jazz clarinetist, bandleader, uncle of Charles Mingus
Hank Williams, Sr. (1923-1953) legendary country singer, recorded at Herzog
Otis Williams (b. 1936) lead singer of the Charms, producer, arranger King Records
Todd “T. Lothar” Witt, drummer Wolverton Bros, BPA
Frank Wood, Sr. (d. 1995) founder of WEBN
Frank Wood, Jr. executive at WEBN
Mary Wood, Cincinnati Post columnist, author, historian
Robin Wood, WEBN radio personality
The Wolverton Bros. (b. 1984) longstanding alternative rock group
Henry Worrall (1825-1902), nineteenth-century composer, guitarist and artist
Dale Wright (1938-2007) rock ‘n roll pioneer, DJ, leader of the Rock-It’s, Fraternity
Ruby Wright, singer, WLWT, Fun Bunch, King, Fraternity
Wussy, twenty-first century alt.rock group, Shake It Records
Ruth Wylie (1916-1989) composer
C. Spencer Yeh, improvising musician known as Burning Star Core
Rusty York, singer, engineer, founder of Jewel Records
York Brothers, singing duo, WLW, King Records
Eugène Ysaÿe (1858-1931) violinist, composer, music director CCSO 1918-1922, Columbia
Jenny Zeilman, singer/guitarist Croatan, publisher Ultrasounds

Listing of record labels, studios and other non-print media outlets
Some label names duplicate that of other labels elsewhere, including some within the general
region, i.e. there was an Alco in Cincinnati and one in Dayton, and they were not related.

Adler Sock
The All Night Party (b. 2009) music licensing and production services company
All Time Country Hits
Another Record Store
The Apartment
Arc (label)
ARC (distributor)
Artists Recording
Avco Broadcasting
Baldwin Piano
Big 4 Hits
Big 6
BJ Record
Blue Grass Special
Brunswick (1927-1928)
Carr Productions
John Church Co.
Church of God
Cincinnati Records
Cincinnati Council
Cincinnati Oldies & Doo Wop Association (CODA)
Coast to Coast
Counterpart Creative
Country Corner
Country Label
Custom Fidelity
Deary Me
Dumont Television Network
Everybody’s Records (store)
Forum Recording
Gennett (1921-1934)
Great Scott
Great River
Group Effort
Hard Times
Hit Productions
House Guests
IT Verdin Company
Injoy Life
Jimmie Skinner Music
Jimmy Thompson Music
Justice Unlimited
KB’s Enter Prize
Kidd’s Bookstore
King Bluegrass
King Soul
Kings Highway
Library of Congress (1938)
Lil Roger
Lucky (Adco)
Mathias Bros. Trio
Mole’s Record Exchange (store)
New York Record Co.
Northside Music
Oh My
Ohio Phonograph Co. (1888-1897)
Okeh (1924)
Old Timer
Parade of Hits
WC Peters Co.
Radio Artist
Rodeheaver Records (aka Rainbow; 1921)
RCA Victor (1928-1930)
River Witch
Roosevelt Lee
RSM Recordings
S. Reece
Sea City
Seven Star
Shake It
Shaw Record Processing
Silver Star
Sons of Zion
Soul Town
Sovereign Grace
SR Production
Steamer Delta Queen
Subway Records (store)
The Brown Singers
The Cherry Fogg
The Harvest Chapel Singers
The Melody-Aires Quartet
The Representatives
The Wanted
Timbre Creek
Tip Toe
Tokyo Rose
Top Tunes
Toy Tiger
Tri City
Us Too
WCPO (i.e. WCPO radio)
We’re Just Like You
Willis Music
Wizard Records (store)
Wurlitzer Music


20th Century Theater
Aronoff Center
Art Academy of Cincinnati
Ault Park
Aunt Maudie’s
Beverly Hills Supper Club
The Black Dome
The Blue Wisp
CAGE Gallery
Castle Farm
Cincinnati Gardens
The Coliseum
Concerts in the Parks
Coney Island
Crosley Field
Crosley Square
Daniel’s Pub
Doyle’s Dancing Academy
Emery Theater
The Farm
Fountain Square
The Golden Triangle
Guys and Dolls
Jockey Club
Lakewood Tavern
Longworth Hall
Lookout House
Michael Lowe Gallery
Ludlow Garage
Mayura Restaurant
The Metro
Murphy’s Pub
Music Hall
Northside Tavern
Palace Theater
The Pit
The Plaza
Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton Co.: Main Library
Rake’s End
Riverfront Stadium
The Roundtable
Seasongood Pavilion, Eden Park
Shorty’s Underground
Southgate House
Southgate House Revival
Sudsy Malone’s
Taft Museum
Taft Theater
Toadstool Inn
Top Hat
Topper Club
The Underpass
University of Cincinnati: DAA
University of Cincinnati: Mr. Jim’s Steakhouse
University of Cincinnati: Patricia Corbett Auditorium
University of Cincinnati: Patricia Corbett Theater
University of Cincinnati: Rhine Room
WAIF studios
Washington Park
Xavier University

Initially this was just a list of WLW radio performers, but it evolved into one where everybody
gets under the tent. At first I was looking for people who’d had some impact outside of
Southwestern Ohio, but decided if they had made a significant contribution within, that was
worth documenting also. It is nowhere near complete.

What are the criteria here? If a person or band was born, educated and/or active in the
Cincinnatiarea, then that counts. If they performed here, but did not otherwise settle or produce
something tangible, no — it has to be significant to their career. For example, Sergei Rachmaninoff
appeared with the Cincinnati Symphony in 1910 as a guest, but the appearance by itself does not merit
inclusion; likewise Dick Clark was a frequent guest on the 50/50 Club, but this doesn’t count.
Although only briefly engaged by WLW, Eddie Albert performed on air in 1933; there is a
surviving recording of one of his broadcasts and Albert himself acknowledged that it was one of
his first jobs. So he’s in.

King Records maintained a studio in New York City in addition to the ones in Cincinnati, so for
an artist to be eligible they would have had to record in the Cincinnati studio. Also, recordings
from outside the local industry – defined as being southwestern Ohio, Northern Kentucky
(corridor between Newport, Lexington and Louisville) and southeastern Indiana – released on
local labels do not count. For example, Elder Charles D. Beck did release records on King
Records, but these were made for Gotham in Philadelphia. So they don’t pass muster, nor to
most artists on King’s subsidiaries such as Deluxe, Bethlehem, Audio Lab, etc.

It is worth noting that Cincinnati has long maintained at least some cultural crosstalk between
Dayton, OH; Indianapolis, IN; Columbus, OH; Louisville, KY; Chicago, IL and Kansas City,
MO; mainly through their related blues and jazz scenes. In the nineteenth century, Cincinnati had
strong ties with Louisville and Pittsburgh, PA through Stephen Foster and publisher W. C.
Peters, who had offices in both cities in addition to the main one in Cincinnati. Gennett Records
was located in Richmond, IN but from 1922-1934 many Cincinnati people passed through that
door. It may take a canvassing of the Starr Piano Company’s long recording ledger, and ruling
out people, to arrive at the answer, an additional project I am working on at present.

Of the companies list, most are record companies and most are small, many making only one
record via Rite, QCA, King or another local concern in the business of handling pressing jobs.
There is a lot of room for improvement and expansion here; the Cincinnati Gospel record
industry alone there are hundreds – maybe thousands — of additional acts and labels that need to
be accounted for. Also the source for this is a singles list; there is no resource I know of for
albums produced in Cincinnati. Not all groups that made records in Cincinnati were actually
based in the region, so such research must be handled with care. The venues list is still very
short, and mainly geared towards establishments that are now defunct; some help here would be
appreciated, as I find I cannot remember names of places that I worked, played or ran sound at.
One proposal I have been working on for about a year is a public monument – a large wall
painting, for example – to the most famous persons in our media community. My first list came
up with just 24 names. This list causes me to rethink that concept; perhaps it would be desirable
to get as many faces up on that wall as possible, grouped by professional relationship, with the
largest faces being the most famous people (Doris Day, James Brown, etc.). Then you could
publish this list as a guidebook to the faces. And/or it could become the basis for an encyclopedia
of Cincinnati performers and publishers, which would be desirable also.
Uncle Dave Lewis
Lebanon, OH

Region II Miami Valley: Montgomery, Green, Preble, Clarke, Darke, Miami, Champaign, Shelby, Logan,
Auglaize, Mercer, Allen. Major cities: Dayton, Springfield, Xenia, Kettering, Bellefontaine, Celina,
Greenville, Sidney, Piqua, Urbana, Wapakoneta, Yellow Springs

The Bittersweets (1965-69) all girl band from Dayton, briefly resident in Cincinnati
Theodore “Wingie” Carpenter (1898-1975) jazz trumpeter with Zack Whyte
Herman Chittison (1908-1967) jazz pianist, started with Chocolate Beau Brummels
Chocolate Beau Brummels (fl. 1929-30) black jazz band led by Zach Whyte, Gennett
Dementia Precox (1980-1990) Dayton-based industrial group headed by Gyn Cameron (d. 2011)
Orville “Hoppy” Jones (1902-1944), bass, bassist, WLW, future Ink Spot
Henry Lange (1896-1990), pianist, composer, bandleader, Gennett, Edison
Donald Mills (1915-1999) singer with The Mills Brothers
Harry Mills (1913-1982) singer with The Mills Brothers
Herbert Mills (1912-1989) singer and guitarist with The Mills Brothers
John Mills, Jr. (1910-1936) lead singer of The Mills Brothers
The Mills Brothers (1928-1936) vocal group from Piqua, WLW
Syd Nathan (1904-1968) entrepreneur, founder of King Records
Sy Oliver (1910-1988) pianist, bandleader, arranger, started with the Chocolate Beau Brummels
Rod Serling (1924-1975) author, screenwriter, host of “Twilight Zone,” Dumont writer
Harry Spindler (1893-1961) jazz bandleader
Ivory “Deek” Watson (1909-1969) tenor, tenor guitarist, WLW, future Ink Spot
Zach Whyte, jazz banjoist, leader of the Chocolate Beau Brummels, Gennett

Listing of record labels, studios and other non-print media outlets


Region III Toledo: Williams, Fulton, Defiance, Henry, Paulding, Putnam, Van Wert, Lucas, Ottawa, Wood,
Sandusky, Seneca, Hancock, Wyandot, Crawford, Hardin, Marion, Morrow. Major cities: Toledo, Lima,
Fremont, Marion, Findlay, Bucyrus, Defiance, Tiffin, Van Wert

Thomas Alva Edison (1842-1931) playback inventor, telegrapher in Cincinnati 1862-69

Listing of record labels, studios and other non-print media outlets


Region IV Cleveland: Erie, Huron, Lorain, Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga, Ashtabula. Major cities: Cleveland,
Parma, Lorain, Elyria, Lakewood, Cuyahoga Falls, Euclid, Norwalk, Oberlin

J. Walter De Vaux (1892-1952) Masonic organist, record exec, composer

Listing of record labels, studios and other non-print media outlets


Region v Akron-Youngstown: Medina, Summit, Portage, Trumbull, Mahoning, Columbiana, Richland, Ashland,
Wayne, Stark, Tuscarawus, Carroll. Major cities: Akron, Youngstown, Ashland, Canton, Mansfield, East
Liverpool-Salem, New Philadelphia-Dover, Wooster

Listing of record labels, studios and other non-print media outlets


Region VI Columbus: Union, Delaware, Knox, Madison, Franklin, Licking, Pickaway, Fairfield, Perry,
Morgan, Noble, Muskingum, Coshocton, Fayette. Major cities: Columbus, Delaware, Circleville, Newark,
Dublin, Coshocton, Mount Vernon, Washington Court House, Zanesville

Homer Rodeheaver (1880-1955) singer, Gospel publisher, record exec, led Cincinnati session in 1921
Sammy Stewart (1891-1960) Bandleader, Vocalion, Paramount


Listing of record labels, studios and other non-print media outlets

Region VII Marietta: Jefferson, Harrison, Guersney, Belmont, Monroe, Washington, Meigs, Athens, Hocking,

Vinton, Jackson, Galia, Lawrence, Ross, Pike, Scioto. Major cities: Marietta, Portsmouth, Chillicothe, Athens, Cambridge

Lloyd Estal “Cowboy” Copas (1913-1963) singer, WLW, WKRC, King Records
Roy Rogers (1911-1998) singer, actor, “King of the Cowboys”

Listing of record labels, studios and other non-print media outlets


Region VIII Northern Kentucky: Boone, Kenton, Campbell, Bracken, Mason, Lewis, Greenup. Major cities:
Covington, Newport, Erlanger, Maysville, Ashland, Augusta

Adrian Belew (b. 1949) guitarist, member of King Crimson, The Bears
Bob Braun (1929-2001) singer, many records, host for WLWT, radio personality
Betty Clooney (1931-1976) singer, WLW, member of Clooney Sisters
George Clooney (b. 1961) actor, director, WKRCT personality (in adolescence)
Nick Clooney (b. 1935) singer, TV host, newsman, WCPO & WKRCT
Nina Clooney, WKRCT personality
Rosemary Clooney (1928-2002) jazz singer, actress, member of Clooney sisters
The Clooney Sisters (1944-1950) Rosemary & Betty, with Tony Pastor, Columbia Records
Haven Gillespie (1888-1975) composer, entrepreneur
Cliff Lash (deceased), pianist, leader 50/50 club band, Fun Bunch
The New Lime, garage band from N. Ky., Counterpart
The Outcasts, psych group from Ashland, Ky.
Kenny Price (1931-1987) country singer, entertainer, Boone, Fraternity, WLWT

Listing of record labels, studios and other non-print media outlets



Region IX West Virginia: Ohio. Major cities: Wheeling

Listing of record labels, studios and other non-print media outlets


Region X Indiana: Wayne. Major cities: Richmond

Cal Collins (1933-2001) jazz guitarist, Benny Goodman Sextet

Listing of record labels, studios and other non-print media outlets


Region XI All Other Regions

Jerri Adams (b. 1930) singer, Fraternity, Columbia Records
Cathy Carr (1936-1988) singer, Fraternity, Coral, Smash etc., never resident

Rody sings Sankey: An appreciation of one of the finest Rainbow records

The original issue of "The Ninety and Nine"
The original issue of “The Ninety and Nine”

Recently I discovered entries for Homer Rodeheaver releases in the 3800 Silvertone series that I wasn’t aware of, which led me to take a new look at several of the Silvertone 3800s that I have. Silvertone was a 25 cent label operated by the Sears Roebuck Co. of Chicago and sold through their mail order catalog. The label started around 1916, using Columbia back catalog, with some titles re-released going back as far as 1901. By 1926, Silvertone was still using some material from Columbia’s budget labels, especially Harmony, which was still making cheaper acoustic recordings even as electrical recording was swiftly becoming the norm.

But Sears Roebuck had long been looking for cheaper alternatives to Columbia; the margin on a quarter, then as now, couldn’t have been much. Around 1922 they began a product line based on releases from the Bridgeport Die & Machine firm, which closed around 1924, so they resumed with New York Recording Laboratories, which sent them a mixture of titles recorded for the Plaza Music Co. and other budget labels. The 3800 series, which only runs to about 3861, was an exploratory venture with Gennett, and both Homer Rodeheaver and Vernon Dalhart are heavily represented among these numbers. This helps to confirm the theory that the liason between Sears and Gennett may have been Homer Rodeheaver himself; as Rev. Kevin R. Mungons put it, Rodeheaver appearing personally at the Sears Roebuck home office would have been a mere matter of “Homer walking down the street a short distance from his own office.” Moreover, the customer base for Silvertone was overwhelmingly rural, and records of religious songs (Rodeheaver) and country music oriented material (Dalhart) would have been a much better fit than the peppy, citified dance novelties coming from NYRL and Columbia. In any event, by 1928 the offerings on Silvertone were exclusively drawn from Gennett, and it would remain so until Sears and Roebuck discontinued this enterprise in 1930.

Silvertone 3825 contains Rodeheaver’s performance of Ira D. Sankey’s “The Ninety and Nine.” It was recorded in his own studio in Chicago sometime in the Summer of 1922 and originally released on Rainbow 1060. It’s so obscure that I note that in my first, 2004, catalog of Rodheaver’s complete recordings — a separate project from my Rainbow catalog — that I missed it; I have recently added it. This was the sole occasion on which Rody recorded Ira D. Sankey’s signature hymn, which, according to Sankey, he improvised at one of the first meetings held on the English Moody-Sankey campaign in England in 1872. He had found Elizabeth Clephane’s text — she had just lately died — in an Scottish newspaper, and he simply propped the newspaper up on his organ and sang the poem out to the multitude assembled. Sankey commented that though the original performance was an improvisation that it was ever after exactly the same as he first performed it, and my feeling is part of the enduring freshness of this particular hymn comes from the spontaneous way in which it was created.

By 1922, Rainbow Records was two years old, and in some measure of trouble. Rodeheaver fully understood that he was his own best-selling artist on the label, despite his experiments with releasing records of preachers and other singers; the duo of Kim and Nyland was the only other success story for Rainbow. He was no longer recording for other labels, though that was more profitable for him. Nevertheless, he would remain committed to Rainbow Records and its mission until 1926, when the acoustic technology that he had invested in became obsolete, and the demand for him to return to Victor and remake his acoustic best-sellers before a microphone proved too lucrative. At this point, Homer had run through most of his popular repertoire already for Rainbow, and while he would find the need to remake some of the earlier records for technical reasons, he was striking out on a more extensive path in regard to selections. “The Ninety and Nine” was in the public domain by 1922 and, while he would not profit from it on the publishing end, it was still a popular hymn and his fans would no doubt enjoy hearing him sing it, and its use would not cost him additionally. Its presence in the Rainbow catalog, and later transfer to Silvertone, probably benefited Sears more than it did Rodeheaver himself.

Unlike most other Silvertone issues of Rodeheaver, this was never released by Gennett, although they did press a later version on Rainbow.
Unlike most other Silvertone issues of Rodeheaver, this was never released by Gennett, although they did press a later version on Rainbow.

Silvertone records live up to their 25 cent reputation; they are made of cheap material and are noisy, particularly on the outer edges, though they generally get better as they play. I realized I had never listened to my Silvertone 3800s, only some of the ones in later series, so I spun them all a couple of nights ago. I often encounter the complaint among other collectors that dub Homer Rodeheaver as “Homer Boring;” that his many releases are no more than hoary, overblown renderings of drab old hymns in a style too far removed from our own time for us to appreciate. He was inspired by the advocacy on record of Henry Burr in sacred material, and Burr is another early record singer often painted with the same damning brush. My experience with all kinds of Rodeheaver records has shown me that he was a fabulous singer, both in his time, and for ours. He made so many recordings, however, that invariably there are clunkers, and his acoustical Victors — the most common Rodeheaver records out in the field today — are among the worst offenders with their faceless arrangements and granitic paces. Also the variability of speeds in the recording industry of the day is often not on Homer’s side when his early records are played at the standard speed of 78 rpm. As I went through the little stack of 3800 Silvertones, early on I encountered a definite clunker, mx. 7845a from the Gennett studio in New York of “All the Way to Calvary.” It the seventh disc he had recorded that day — it was not unusual for Rody to deliver 6-8 discs in a session — and his voice is tired; he keeps falling short of the pitch, the key is not agreeing with him, and his phrasing suffers.

“The Ninety and Nine,” though, comes from its own session, made in Rodeheaver’s own studio. One leg up that the Rainbows have over his recordings for other companies is that Homer is able to specify his own arrangements, rather than depending upon day-to-day studio personnel to contrive one. Sankey’s tune has a very plain harmonization, so the Smith-Spring-Holmes Orchestral Quintet, with their typically odd mix of instruments — in this case, apparently cornet, flute, clarinet, tenor saxophone and piano — stick to the basics and do their best to provide support to the singer. But at the last line of the hymn, “Rejoice! for the Lord brings back His own,” we encounter a surprise in the form of a chorus which joins in, and also takes the last line, barely audibly, as an echo which appears to be dying out.

Homer’s utter sincerity in his delivery of the main element is so deeply focused as to be nearly bluesy; here was one of his truly great records. The Silvertone, however, was delivering its usual 25-cent output, a scarred and noisy rendering of this little recorded masterpiece. My notes revealed to me that I also had this recording on Rainbow, and checking, I discovered I had five copies of that release. Moreover, at least three looked pristine. I picked one at random to get at the transfer below; at some point I plan to check the other two to find a better alternative for the last few seconds of the disc, where the chorus sings alone. I doubt that I will find one, however — this is in the last grooves of the record, and as I stipulated earlier, is barely audible. This is a known defect of acoustic discs when the inner grooves are especially quiet; see Dennis Rooney’s notes for the track “Rêve d’enfant” in the Sony Masterworks Heritage collection “Eugene Ysayë: Violinist and Conductor” for more information in regard to this phenomenon. — Uncle Dave Lewis, Lebanon, Ohio 6-1-2014

Son of Homer Wanted!

Son of Homer Wanted!
by Uncle Dave Lewis

Rody old

Homer Rodeheaver (1880-1955) was the single most important figure in sacred music recording in the acoustic era. He wouldn’t have claimed that though; instead, he would have deferred to Henry Burr, whom among his multi-multitudinous recording activity from 1902-1930 made a concerted and detectable effort towards making records for sacred purposes. His 1916 label Angelophone, founded in collaboration with Watch Tower publisher Charles Taze Russell — who died in the middle of the project — was the first American label devoted exclusively to sacred records. However, it was a short-lived and not very successful enterprise; Russell’s death and the entry of America into World War I assured that Angelophone would never advance past its initial slate of 46 releases. Although it only lasted from 1920 to 1926, Homer Rodeheaver’s first Rainbow Records label at least demonstrated some staying power, putting out about 150 issues containing close to 500 master recordings owing to Homer’s habit of replacing sides. While Rainbow stopped issuing new discs in 1926, the Silvertone re-issues kept several titles in print through about 1930, extraordinary, as the Rainbow Records label was overwhelmingly acoustical.

I have already listed the Rainbows that I need and the Specials that I know about which I do not have. This should be a far shorter want list, consisting of Homer Rodeheaver records made for the commercial record companies outside of Gennett, which of course mirrored the offerings on Rainbow.

Rody Vi 17455


Homer Rodeheaver began his recording career with Victor in 1913, and his Victors sold far better than records he made for other labels, including Rainbow. One of the reasons he founded Rainbow, however, was the resistance he encountered within Victor to the idea of expanding their sacred offerings beyond the limited area that they seemed interested in. Most of Homer’s acoustical Victor recordings were made by 1917, although the best selling one, Vi 18706 “The Old Rugged Cross” with Virginia Asher, was waxed during an isolated session in 1920. Then, with the introduction of electrical recordings in 1925, Victor called Rody back to remake practically his entire Victor catalog, but they did not press him for new material, which he contributed anyway. In my view, from a performance standpoint, Rody’s electrical Victors represent his personal best. Victor house organist Mark Andrews seemed to have the right feel for the pacing and expression that Homer was seeking, and Homer’s voice was not yet compromised by the slight wobble that it developed later.

Listening to Homer sing in Victor electricals is instructive, as is experiencing his duets with Henry Burr, among the last recordings that Burr made. The hooty and somewhat pretentious sound of Homer’s acoustical efforts fall away and reveal an instrument that is clear, well-bodied and throughly sincere. With Burr, the adenoidal and pinched sound of his acousticals likewise vanishes, but his few electrics reveal a raspy side to his singing that’s a bit of surprise. One may chalk that up to wear on a voice that made more records than any other, but I theorize that to some degree the rasp was always there, and that acoustical recording technology concealed it, smoothed it out. In Homer’s case, his first electrics sound fresher than any of his acoustics, though some Rainbows capture him a little better than average. The reason I pursue this topic with such interest is that I wonder how the acoustical process may have enhanced, or compromised, singers that we only know through acoustical recordings — Caruso, Melba, Tamagno, etc.

Homer’s Victors were his best sellers, and yet the electricals are not as common as his acoustics. Needless to say, I don’t need very many of Homer’s Victors.

Victor 17478 Homer Rodeheaver: Daddy — That Little Chap [of Mine]
Victor 17478 Homer Rodeheaver: To My Son — A Mother’s Love
Victor 19452 Homer Rodeheaver: Christ is All
Victor 19452 Homer Rodeheaver: Trusting Jesus, That is All
Victor 21463 Homer Rodeheaver: You Can Smile
Victor 21463 Homer Rodeheaver: He Keeps On Loving Us Still
Victor 21464 Homer Rodeheaver: There’s a Rainbow Shining Somewhere
Victor 21464 Homer Rodeheaver: Christ of the Cross
Victor 35545 Homer Rodeheaver: When Malindy Sings
Victor 35387 Homer Rodeheaver: The Great Judgment Morning
Victor 35387 Homer Rodeheaver: Mother’s Prayers Have Followed Me

Gramophone (UK) 4-4183: Asher & Rodeheaver: The Old Rugged Cross
Montgomery Ward MW 4350: Asher & Rodeheaver: In the Garden
Victor Canada 11820 Asher & Rodeheaver: In the Garden


Rody DD

Once enshrined at the Victor company, Homer went duly trotting off to Mr. Edison’s concern. And actually, he may as well have started there, as Edison marketed most successfully in rural areas where Homer’s popularity as a performer was greatest. By virtue of his start in late 1914, Homer became one of the last artists to make direct-to-cylinder recordings; after January 1915, the Edison Company elected to dub them from Diamond Discs. I do believe that Homer paid attention to some of the technical aspects of making records at Edison; he seems to have adopted some of their methodology in variable speed cutting on his Rainbow records, as there are 10″ Rainbows that run close to four minutes in length. Although, as at Victor, Homer observed a break from recording at Edison during his Rainbow Records days, he resumed and continued to record until very late in the company’s history.

Unlike the situation with Victor, I have very few of these recordings. I only recently acquired an Amberola which plays the Blue Amberols, and I have yet to score a Diamond Disc machine, though that’s in the plan. You can hear practically all of Homer’s Blue Amberols at the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Cylinder Preservationa and Digitisation project at: http://cylinders.library.ucsb.edu/ And it’s worth your time; I think Homer’s Edison recordings are quite good, with strong support from professional vocal groups and spirited singing all the way around. Later on, Rody also recorded selections for Edison that he took up nowhere else.

These were issued, in most instances, in multiple takes. I’m not quite ready to deal with that aspect of the Edisons just yet; although the books show that various takes were all “grafted and plated,” it is not known which ones were used.

Rody BA

Edison BA 2349 Homer Rodeheaver & Edison Mixed Quartet: If Your Heart Keeps Right
Edison BA 2350 Homer Rodeheaver & Edison Mixed Quartet: I Walk with the King
Edison BA 2352 Homer Rodeheaver & Edison Mixed Quartet: My Father Watches Over Me
Edison BA 2353 Homer Rodeheaver: The Old-fashioned Faith
Edison BA 2354 Homer Rodeheaver: Somebody Cares
Edison BA 4972 Homer Rodeheaver & Edison Mixed Quartet: The End of the Road
Edison BA 5113 Homer Rodeheaver & Edison Mixed Quartet: I Need You, Jesus
Edison BA 5173 Homer Rodeheaver & Edison Mixed Quartet: Where They Never Say Goodbye
Edison BA 5174 Homer Rodeheaver & Edison Mixed Quartet: Tell Me the Story of Jesus
Edison BA 5483 Homer Rodeheaver & Edison Mixed Quartet: Carry Thy Burden to Jesus
Edison BA 5583 Homer Rodeheaver & Edison Mixed Quartet: Take Up Thy Cross

Edison DD 50229 Homer Rodeheaver & Edison Mixed Quartet: If Your Heart Keeps Right
Edison DD 50229 Homer Rodeheaver & Edison Mixed Quartet: The Old-fashioned Faith
Edison DD 51399 Homer Rodeheaver & Edison Mixed Quartet: Carry Your Cross with a Smile
Edison DD 51399 Homer Rodeheaver & Edison Mixed Quartet: All the Way to Calvary
Edison DD 51461 Homer Rodeheaver & Edison Mixed Quartet: Where They Never Say Goodbye
Edison DD 51461 Homer Rodeheaver & Edison Mixed Quartet: Tell Me the Story of Jesus
Edison DD 51484 Homer Rodeheaver & Edison Mixed Quartet: The End of the Road
Edison DD 51682 Homer Rodeheaver: My Wonderful Dream
Edison DD 51682 Homer Rodeheaver: Goodnight and Good-Morning
Edison DD 51683 Homer Rodeheaver: When the World Forgets
Edison DD 51838 Homer Rodeheaver: Jesus Rose of Sharon
Edison DD 51838 Homer Rodeheaver: An Old-Fashioned Meeting
Edison DD 51889 Homer Rodeheaver: The Church by the Side of the Road
Edison DD 51889 Homer Rodeheaver: Back to the Faith of My Childhood
Edison DD 51926 Homer Rodeheaver: At the End of the Way
Edison DD 51926 Homer Rodeheaver: So Wonderful
Edison DD 51278 Homer Rodeheaver & Edison Mixed Quartet: Carry Thy Burden to Jesus
Edison DD 51278 Homer Rodeheaver: You Can Smile
Edison DD 52187 Homer Rodeheaver & Edison Mixed Quartet: Take Up Thy Cross
Edison DD 52187 Homer Rodeheaver: In the Garden with Jesus
Edison DD 52452 Homer Rodeheaver & Thomas Muir: Where the Gates Swing Outward Never
Edison DD 52452 Homer Rodeheaver & Thomas Muir: The City Unseen
Edison DD 52500 Homer Rodeheaver: Have You a Friend Like That
Edison DD 52500 Homer Rodeheaver: He Whispers His Love to Me
Edison DD 52581 Homer Rodeheaver: God’s Tomorrow
Edison DD 52581 Homer Rodeheaver: Carry On

Edison Needle Cut 11024 Homer Rodeheaver & Thomas Muir: Where the Gates Swing Outward Never
Edison Needle Cut 11024 Homer Rodeheaver & Thomas Muir: The City Unseen


rody co flag

Apparently dissatisfied with the traction he was getting at Victor, in 1916 Homer connected with Columbia — Victor’s biggest competitor — and began to record the same hits for them that he had already done at Victor. This can’t have endeared him to the dog and phono show, though Victor did continue to record him. Moreover, Homer recorded one of his most important hits, “Brighten the Corner Where You Are,” at Columbia before he took it to Victor. I feel this may have been deliberate; Victor tested Homer’s singing partner Virginia Asher early in 1916 but dragged their feet on recording her, and when they finally did so they rejected nearly everything she sang on, even pulling a planned issue before its release and recombining the Homer-only B-side to something else. Some of Asher’s records finally did appear on Victor years after the fact, and the 1916 Rody-Asher disc of “In the Garden” became the second best selling title that Rodeheaver made at Victor. But clearly there was someone at Victor who did not like her reedy voice and its limited range.

Virginia Asher was a remarkable person; she led a feminist Bible study group that lasted into the early years of the 21st century and did considerable outreach and charity in causes centered on women. She had tried to sing for the Sunday campaigns on her own, but did not go over well; when she harmonized with Homer there something special about the combination that proved irresistible to audiences. Asher ultimately made more records than any singer born in the 1860s except for Madame Ernestine Schumann-Heink. And while the couple of 1916 Victors that found ultimate release are her earliest recorded documents, it was at Columbia that she was recorded in some kind of depth for the first time. From reading Homer’s letters you can get a sense of the immense respect he had for Mrs. Asher, and he likely took Victor’s dismissive treatment of her personally.

Anyone who collects acoustical Columbias will attest to their lack of consistency. Some acoustic Columbias sound amazingly lifelike, clear and present, but others — most others — are dim, dull and inconsistent in pitch. Charles A. Prince, who led the band at Columbia since 1901 and was clearly burnt out on recording by the time Homer arrived in 1916, disliked accompanying singers, particularly Bert Williams and Al Jolson. However, through some stroke of fortune, some of Homer’s Columbias are among his best acoustical recordings, particularly A-1990, “Brighten the Corner Where You Are” — it is grand, uptempo and exciting. By comparison the Victor is too slow, and you get the sense that Rody is kind of hating it by the end of the disc. I’m sure that if he’d stayed at Columbia that he would have done most of his standard rep for them, but with the outbreak of war, Rody went to France to entertain troops and did not return to the studios until 1920.

In this context it is also useful to list Homer’s Emersons and Okehs along with the Columbias. As Merle Sprinzen has shown, Columbia had a little share in Victor Emerson’s operation in the years when Rody made his few Emersons. Although Okeh was not yet in Columbia’s stable when Rodeheaver recorded for them, they would be soon after, and he didn’t record much for them; a pity, as his Okehs are exceptionally good. When he rejoined Columbia in the electrical period, his huge re-recording project with Victor was winding down, and Homer mostly recorded material for Columbia that Victor didn’t want; some of that was also recorded for Edison. Mrs. Asher decided to call her recording career over after remaking her key titles for Victor, and it was a rest well earned; she was 56 years old. Homer entered into a new partnership with Doris Doe, a singer who happened to be Mrs. Asher’s daughter in law. While their partnership on commercial records ended with the Columbia contract, private, instantaneous cut recordings of the two exist at the Reneker Museum in Winona Lake; those were made in the 1940s.

I have most of Homer’s Columbias and Okehs, but I could really use some help with the Emersons.

Columbia A2248 Homer Rodeheaver: A Rainbow On the Cloud
Columbia A2248 Homer Rodeheaver: Somebody Cares
Columbia A3359 Asher & Rodeehaver: Heab’n
Columbia A3359 Homer Rodeheaver: Some of These Days
Columbia 705-D Homer Rodeheaver: I Need Jesus
Columbia 705-D Rodeheaver & Doe: Carry Thy Burden to Jesus
Columbia 872-D Homer Rodeheaver: Satisfied There
Columbia 872-D Rodeheaver & Doe: The Unclouded Day
Columbia 873-D Homer Rodeheaver: If Your Heart Keeps Right
Columbia 873-D Homer Rodeheaver: Brighten the Corner Where You Are
Columbia 1101-D Rodeheaver & Doe: In the Dawn of Eternal Day
Columbia 1101-D Rodeheaver & Doe: Dearer Than All
Columbia 2432-D Rodeheaver & Rodeheaver Singers: There’s a Rainbow Shining Somewhere
Columbia 2432-D Rodeheaver & Rodeheaver Singers: You Can Smile

Conqueror 9103 Olive Marshall & Doris Doe: Whispering Hope
Conqueror 9103 Olive Marshall & Doris Doe: Somewhere a Voice is Calling

Rody Em

Emerson 5194 Homer Rodeheaver: Brighten the Corner Where You Are
Emerson 5195 Homer Rodeheaver: A Rainbow On the Cloud
Emerson 5224 Homer Rodeheaver: Since Jesus Came into My Heart
Emerson 5225 Homer Rodeheaver: If Your Heart Keeps Right
Emerson 7191 Homer Rodeheaver: Since Jesus Came into My Heart
Emerson 7191 Homer Rodeheaver: If Your Heart Keeps Right

Okeh 40490 Homer Rodeheaver: My Wonderful Dream
Okeh 40490 Homer Rodeheaver: Goodnight and Goodmorning

Standard A2248 Homer Rodeheaver: A Rainbow On the Cloud
Standard A2248 Homer Rodeheaver: Somebody Cares

Vocalion 02960 Homer Rodeheaver: Satisfied There
Vocalion 02960 Rodeheaver & Doe: The Unclouded Day
Note: Homer’s proper Vocalions are listed below, but this one is an ARC re-issue of the 30s, using a recording made by Columbia.


Rody Vocalion

Homer’s Brunswick and Vocalion recordings are interesting in that many of them were made “out of school,” during the Rainbow period. And some of them, particularly “Life’s Railway to Heaven,” show imaginative arrangements and Homer in excellent voice. Homer’s first Vocalion session was the first he made upon returning from the European theater, and he sounds fresh and ready to go. At the time Homer began to record for Vocalion, they were not yet merged with Brunswick, and indeed, both were relatively new companies. But by the time he made his last Brunswicks, the two had become enjoined. As with Columbia and Edison, he recorded some selections for Brunswick that he undertook nowhere else. I have most of the Brunswicks, but the very last Vocalions are particularly elusive.

Brunswick 3259 Homer Rodeheaver: Mother’s Prayers Have Followed Me
Brunswick 3259 Homer Rodeheaver: Shall We Gather at the River
Brunswick 3260 Homer Rodeheaver: Yield Not to Temptation
Brunswick 3260 Homer Rodeheaver: Throw Out the Lifeline

Supertone 2118 Homer Rodeheaver: Throw Out the Lifeline

Vocalion 14351 Homer Rodeheaver: Brighten the Corner Where You Are
Vocalion 14351 Homer Rodeheaver: I Shall See the King
Vocalion 14627 Homer Rodeheaver: Into the Woods My Master Went
Vocalion 14627 Homer Rodeheaver: A Rainbow On the Cloud
Vocalion 15309 Homer Rodeheaver: Tell Mother I’ll Be There
Vocalion 15309 Homer Rodeheaver: Meet Mother in the Skies
Vocalion 15310 Homer Rodeheaver: When the World Forgets
Vocalion 15310 Homer Rodeheaver: An Evening Prayer


Rody Clax

A real surprise is the little group of recordings Homer made for Bridgeport Die & Machine, a manufacturer of cheap records that didn’t last very long. Rody resisted all of the hill & dale and budget labels, and yet managed to record for this little company about 1923. These records are so obscure that I’m not sure that the four sides I know about were all there was, and chances are these sides were scattered hither and yon among various budget labels. Perhaps you can inform me as to where these sides ultimately landed — I list the two sides that I have on Claxtonola in case you know of alternate issues for the recordings involved. Although all four sides probably appeared on Federal-something, I have no idea of the issue numbers.

Baldwin 1006 Jesus, Blessed Jesus
Baldwin 1006 Drifting

Claxtonola 10111 Brighten the Corner Where You Are
Claxtonola 10111 Carry Your Cross with a Smile

Rody De


After 1927, Homer Rodeheaver went from making dozens upon dozens of records a year to making a couple a year, with no records at all in 1930. With his last Victor couplings waxed in 1932, Rody finally took a break from recording. He had submitted his resignation to the Billy Sunday Campaign in 1927, but did not leave until 1929 as Ma Sunday was too afraid to show Rev. Billy the angry, 16-page resignation letter that Rodeheaver wrote. From about 1931, Rodeheaver turned his attention to radio, which proved a very successful medium for him, both as a folksy evangelist and as an opportunity for fundraising. He established the Rodeheaver Boys’ Ranch in Florida, where troubled youths could have the opportunity to right themselves through the experience of working as ranch hands and learning from the Gospel. The RBR mission was a magnet for donations, and still exists today, under another name.

In 1933, Homer made a theatrical film short in Winona Lake entitled “Homer Rodeheaver in Community Singing” in which he leads an unseen chorus in three songs, with lyrics, in an attempt to get movie audiences to sing together. He was 53 years old and looks hale and hearty, but in his voice you can hear a trace of the wobble that would ultimately become an uncontrollable factor in his singing. As his popularity on radio grew, the call came out from his fans for him to start making records again, but he did not respond until 1939 when he signed a contract with Decca. The wobble in his voice was getting pretty pronounced by this time; like the rasp actor Jack Klugman was left with after surviving throat cancer, you can get used to it, and then Homer sounds like any other singer, just an older one. There are some very moving, and well sung, recordings to be found among the late Rainbows he made from 1946-50. But the glorious instrument that made his electrical Victors so extraordinary and exciting was gone, and it was not coming back.

Therefore, the Deccas are a mixed blessing. Homer’s Decca output consists of two 78 rpm album sets, “Gospel Hymns” and “Gospel Hymns No. 2”, and while my dear friend Dr. Michael Biel may disagree with me, these are notable in that they are among the first album sets to be conceived as executed as albums and not compiled from singles. Only one single coupling was made out of the 20 tracks he recorded for Decca, issued in a special “Faith Series” Decca tried out at the end of the 78 era, putting them out ina both 78 and 45 formats. Homer is backed up with stale and disinterested accompaniments and while for the most part Homer acquits himself nobly, he is clearly struggling in some spots. He did undertake some newish material that he had sang principally on radio, some of which he got a second shot at in his last record endeavor, the 1946-50 Rainbow label.

I have all of the Deccas, some in multiples. What I could use is an album book for “Vol. 2,” as I have the discs but no book. I guess I would accept a book with discs in it, and if either album set was issued by Decca as a 10″ or 12″ LP I’d be interested, but I see no evidence that any such issue was ever made. However there are some Homer Rodeheaver odds and ends that I am looking for in addition to the above.

Homer claimed to have made recordings in Japan while he was there on a missionary trip in 1923-24; these would either be on Nitto, Nipponophone or Japanese Columbia; probably the last company, as he had a couple of Japanese Columbias in his personal collection, but they were of traditional Japanese music, and not him. Likely the selections would be the same as the Japanese-language hymns he recorded on Rainbow, “Jesus Loves Me” and “Whiter Than Snow” among them. The Reneker contains a prompt book in which Homer notated phonetic versions of these songs in Japanese which he sang in his personal appearances there.

Very little of Homer’s work on radio is accounted for, and yet he was a constant presence between 1931 and the start of the Second World War. Religious programming is not a premium for those who collect OTR (“Old Time Radio”) and for good reason; it tends to be boring and is not nearly as funny as Fibber McGee and Molly. But I did find one OTR vendor, who had this to offer about ten years ago.

Homer Rodeheaver and his Gospel Singers

Program 15
Program 16

This is verbatim from the entry other than the indication that these were fifteen-minute programs. By the time I went back to order them, they were gone. Anyone able to follow up with these, or something similar, please contact me. There are some open reel tapes at the Reneker Museum in Winona Lake of very late shows in which Rodeheaver participated as a guest; I know of nothing else.

Finally, I would like to mention a couple of LPs that Rodeheaver made, and two more that he is on. The era of vinyl was in no way kind to Homer Rodeheaver; while his later Rainbow label did issue 45s, it never issued an album apart from 78 rpm album sets. In the fall of 1955, Paul Mickelson and Tedd Smith rolled through Winona Lake on their way back from the Billy Graham Crusade in Toronto with a portable stereo tape recorder in tow. This was fortuitous, as its use made it possible for Homer Rodeheaver to join a very small fraternity of recording artists who had managed to survive from the days of cylinders to that of stereo recording. However, by this time Homer was in terrible shape; he had suffered a stroke, and on the recordings he sounds old and feeble. I do not have the content list for “Homer Rodeheaver Souvenir Album,” and it may be identical to the other one.

International Sacred 5101 Homer Rodeheaver & Ruth Rodeheaver Thomas: Memories Musical
International Sacred 10081 Homer Rodeheaver Souvenir Album

These were the last recordings made by Homer Rodeheaver, but there’s more! The following is a posthumous issue of an entire documentary feature film soundtrack in which Homer was a participant, and has a lengthy passage:

Word LP W-3267 The Billy Sunday Story

Homer’s segment was shot in 1954, but the film was not completed until 1956 and the mono soundtrack LP appeared on Word in 1964, a full decade after Rodeheaver recorded the material.

And I guess that’s it, though it seems as though there’s always more. And indeed, is it enough?

Uncle Dave Lewis, Lebanon, OH 1-25-2014

Rody 2