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.

Acacia
Accident
Acorn
Adco
Adler Sock
Alcadia
Alcar
Alco
The All Night Party (b. 2009) music licensing and production services company
All Time Country Hits
Altair
Amber
AMG
Another Record Store
The Apartment
Applegate
Arc (label)
ARC (distributor)
Ark
Arnold’s
Artists Recording
Arvis
ASG
Audiocraft
Avco Broadcasting
Baldwin Piano
Band
Baron
Beast
Bel-Kay
Big 4 Hits
Big 6
BJ Record
Blue Grass Special
Bobby
Bogart’s
Bonanza
Boone
Boyd
Bramble
Brunswick (1927-1928)
Bubbles
Candee
Carol
Carousel
Carr Productions
Casey
CB
Chance
John Church Co.
Church of God
Cincinnati Records
Cin-Town
Cincinnati Council
Cincinnati Oldies & Doo Wop Association (CODA)
Cincy
Cinn-Sound
Ci-Sum
CLB
Clix
Coast to Coast
Colony
Counterpart
Counterpart Creative
Country
Country Corner
Country Label
Crosley
Crutch
Custom Fidelity
Damage
Dana
Deary Me
Doc
Drifter
Dumont Television Network
Early
Echo
Eldee
Emerald
Empirestate
Ermo
ESV
Everett
Everybody’s Records (store)
Excellent
Faith
Federal
Fidelity
Finch
First
Flame
Flo-Roe
Foggy
Forum Recording
Fountain
Fraternity
Freelance
Gateway
Gennett (1921-1934)
Glory
Great Scott
Great River
Gregory
Group Effort
Hamlet
Hard Times
Harp
Herzog
Hilltop
Hit Productions
Hospital
House Guests
Huber
IT Verdin Company
I-Dee
Injoy Life
Jimmie Skinner Music
Jimmy Thompson Music
Jinx
Jewel
Jones
Jude
June
Jurny
Justice Unlimited
Kacky
Kalko
Karat
KB’s Enter Prize
Kentucky
Kidd’s Bookstore
King
King Bluegrass
King Soul
Kings Highway
Kogan
L&W
Lee
LeRegal
Library of Congress (1938)
Lil Roger
Love
Lucky
Lucky (Adco)
Lunar
M&J
Mancub
Marshall
Marylin
Mastertone
Mathias Bros. Trio
Meco
Mole’s Record Exchange (store)
Name
Nash
Nettus
New York Record Co.
Northside Music
Oak
Official
Oh My
Ohio Phonograph Co. (1888-1897)
Okeh (1924)
Old Timer
Olympia
Onyx
Out-House
Pamela
Parade
Parade of Hits
Pearl
Pelpal
WC Peters Co.
PJ
QCA
Queen
Queen-B
Radio Artist
Rodeheaver Records (aka Rainbow; 1921)
Raven
RCA Victor (1928-1930)
Recollectio
Rite
River Witch
RMT
Rocket
Roosevelt Lee
RSM Recordings
Rye
S. Reece
Saxony
Scholl
Scott
Sea City
Seven Star
Shake It
Shaw Record Processing
Shorty
Shropshire
Silver Star
Sons of Zion
Soul Town
Sovereign Grace
Spin
Spiritual
Split
SR Production
Steamer Delta Queen
Subway Records (store)
Sugar
Superior
Teen
Tela-Star
Terry-Gregory
TES
The Brown Singers
The Cherry Fogg
The Harvest Chapel Singers
The Melody-Aires Quartet
The Representatives
The Wanted
Timbre Creek
Tip Toe
Tokyo Rose
Tolou
Top Tunes
Torch
Toy Tiger
Tri City
Triangle
Trip
Truth
Twilight
Twin
Ultrasuede
Universe
Us Too
Vetco
Vocalstyle
WAIF
WAKW
WCET
WCPO (i.e. WCPO radio)
WCPOT (i.e. WCPO TV)
We’re Just Like You
WGRR
WGUC
Willis Music
Wizard Records (store)
WKRC
WKRCT (i.e. WKRC TV)
WLW
WLWT
WMKV
WNOP
WOBO
Worthmore
WOXY
WSAI
WUBE
Wurlitzer Music
WVXU
WXIX
WZIP

Venues

20th Century Theater
aliveOne
Annie’s
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
Chilly’s
Cincinnati Gardens
The Coliseum
Concerts in the Parks
Coney Island
Corry’s
Crosley Field
Crosley Square
Daniel’s Pub
Doyle’s Dancing Academy
Emanon
Emery Theater
The Farm
Fountain Square
The Golden Triangle
Guys and Dolls
Jockey Club
JR’s
Lakewood Tavern
Longworth Hall
Lookout House
Michael Lowe Gallery
Ludlow Garage
Mayday
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
Shipley’s
Shorty’s Underground
Southgate House
Southgate House Revival
Sudsy Malone’s
Taft Museum
Taft Theater
Toadstool Inn
Tomorrow’s
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
2-18-2013

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

Venues

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

Venues

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

Venues

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

Venues

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

Venues

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

Venues

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

Boone

Venues

Region IX West Virginia: Ohio. Major cities: Wheeling

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

Venues

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

Gennett

Region XI All Other Regions

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

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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

VICTOR

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

EDISON

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

COLUMBIA, OKEH and EMERSON

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.

BRUNSWICK and VOCALION

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

BRIDGEPORT DIE & MACHINE

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

DECCA & THE REST

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

 

 

 

 

HOMER: WANTED!

HOMER: WANTED!
by Uncle Dave Lewis

Homer wantedposter

For the past 15 years, I have been working hard to catalog and assess Homer Rodeheaver’s recordings and recording activity, heavily concentrated in — but not exclusively limited to — the field of early sacred recordings. Of course, along with this research, I had assemebled a small, but meaningful, gathering of his recordings on my own, in addition to examining museum copies at the Reneker Museum in Winona Lake, Indiana, at the Archive of Popular Music at Bowling Green State University, the Billy Graham Center in Wheaton and elsewhere. I also plumbed the depths of the Library of Congress, Syracuse University and UCLA databases in search for issues, take information and so forth. With the passing of my friend and colleague Mike Montgomery in 2010, I came into posession of his much larger accumulation of Rodeheaver records and spent several months sorting this vast treasure trove and merging it with my own, with — it turns out — very little duplication between the two collections.

I’m nearly at the point where I know what’s in the collection, and comparing it with the data I have gathered on Homer’s various labels and recording projects, I have a good idea now what is still missing. The list below may seem like a lot, but actually it isn’t much when you compare it to what’s already here, and I am hanging out this shingle in hopes that some enterprising collectors will assist me both with filling in the gaps and expanding the search for data yet further. Homer Rodeheaver, of course, is anything but popular among mainstream 78 collectors, though some are responsive to the beautiful, 4-color Rainbow labels of the 1920-24 period. I sincerely request that you do not throw any of these away, as what you hold might be the last copy of a particular take or performance. While Rainbows 1001 and 1018 made the rounds pretty effectively in their time, the remainder of the catalog is something of a cipher, and numbers above about 1080 are actually pretty rare.

If you do not wish to part with your Rainbow, or other, Rodeheaver record I will be happy to take the matrix number, if any, a label scan and an audio recording if possible. If you wish to sell, I will be glad to buy, but bear in mind I do not have deep pockets, and you won’t get rich selling anything to me. But I will consider any reasonable offer, including trades, barter, donations, paying for shipping and what not. Bear in mind that you are contributing to re-building a vault that has been lost since at least 1965.

Rody had all kinds of production issues with Rainbow in its early days, and was in the habit of replacing sides on issued discs in order to cover for things that became unusable. This led to the issue of many alternate performances, and even selections, on discs from 1001-1030, and a few after. So in the early part of the listing I am looking for only a couple of unique items in addition to a lot of variant issues. I have tried to indicate what they are by the methods that might be available to the reader, stating whether it is a specific, early or late matrix. Matrices on Rainbows are notoriously hard to find, usually scratched in under the label and only visible with a light touch and a strong lamp. Sometimes, there’s nothing, or just an issue number stamped in the deadwax, though sometimes the stamped number is a matrix. I have no idea what Homer’s four digit code means — Capital letter and superscript number at 12:00, digit at 3:00, letter — usually “S” — at 6:00, another digit at 9:00. But the matrix is to be found elsewhere.

But I am still finding surprises even today. Just last month, a kind collector sent along a copy of 1021 with a very early matrix that I’d never seen before. So get out your magnifying glasses.

Here is a selection of basic labels to guide you as to the various Rainbow label types. Within these designs the variety of typefaces, place names and other details are innumerable, but the four pictured here represent the labels in a general sense.

The “Sacred Record” design was the first, and is only seen on records made from 1920-21. Most, maybe all, of these were made in Winona Lake, Indiana.

RB Sacred Record

The “Gold Ring” design is the most common one seen, and appears on records made between 1921-24. Some earlier masters from the “Sacred Record” period do appear on this label, as well as the remade versions that replaced them. This label was printed by a company based in Cincinnati.

RB gold ring

The “Ochre” label takes the gold ring design and applies a purplish overcoat; this is one of the prettiest record label designs ever, but the labels do not hold up as well as the earlier ones; they tend to darken. It was only used in 1924-25, though as before one may find earlier releases on this label as well.

RB ochre

The “Maroon” label was fabricated by Gennett, and the gold ink turns the heavenly musical staff into an indistinguisable blob. This co-existed with the Ochre design for about a year or two, but it was the only label used in 1926 for numbers 1125 and above. The main purpose of this label was to bring the cost down, and when it appeared, Rodeheaver was selling these for 65 cents, rather than a dollar. Practically the whole catalog was issued, at one time or another, on this label design, though they are not necessarily more common than issues on the Gold Ring design.

RB Maroon

This is a Rainbow test, and only four of these are known to exist.

RB test

HR reported 1001 as his top-selling disc, perhaps on the strength of its performance at the 1920 Winona Lake Bible Conference, where it was the only Rainbow title rolled out and was the label’s initial release. Given its novelty at the event, there is little doubt that all copies made for the Conference — however many there were — were sold. However, those early copies are not exactly thick on the ground. I have collected a number of 1001s but all of them are of the mx. 924/969 combination, a later remake from 1924. The copy in Wheaton is mx. 11115/3; 11520 is shown in the Gennett ledger as “rejected,” but in all cases where that designation is given, that doesn’t neccessarily mean the master wasn’t used in some way. Nevertheless, I’m well covered for 924/969.

Rainbow 1001A Homer Rodeheaver: Safe in the Arms of Jesus mx. 1 or 2, 11115
Rainbow 1001B Homer Rodeheaver: I Walk with the King mx. 3, 11520
Rainbow 1003A Mixed Quartet: Almost Persuaded
Rainbow 1004B Homer Rodeheaver: An Evening Prayer, mx. 8963
Rainbow 1006A Homer Rodeheaver: The Unclouded Day, mx. 8068
Rainbow 1006B Homer Rodeheaver: Laying My Treasure Up There, mx. 8069
Rainbow 1007A Asher & Rodeheaver: When I Look in His Face, mx. 11001
Rainbow 1008B Homer Rodeheaver: My Wonderful Dream, mx. 7893
Rainbow 1009A The Sybil Sammis Singers: Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray
Rainbow 1009B The Sybil Sammis Singers: My Soul is a Witness
Rainbow 1010A Homer Rodeheaver: Mother’s Prayers Are Calling Me, mx. 7890
Rainbow 1010B Homer Rodeheaver: Me An’ Pap An’ Mother, mx. 11088
Rainbow 1011A Homer Rodeheaver: How Tedious and Tasteless the Hours, mx. 8421
Rainbow 1011B Asher & Rodeheaver: In the Garden, mx. 11092
Rainbow 1014A Winona Lake Chorus: The Star-Spangled Banner
Rainbow 1014A Winona Lake Chorus: Brighten the Corner
Rainbow 1014 Homer Rodeheaver: Brighten the Corner Where You Are, mx. 7901
Rainbow 1015B Asher & Rodeheaver The Old Rugged Cross, early mx.
Rainbow 1016A Rainbow Quartette: The Church in the Wildwood, early mx.
Rainbow 1016A Rainbow Quartette: The Church in the Wildwood, mx. 7533
Rainbow 1016A Homer Rodeheaver & Criterion Quartet: The Church in the Wildwood, mx. 7908A
Rainbow 1016A Homer Rodeheaver & Criterion Quartet: The Church in the Wildwood, mx. 7908B
Rainbow 1017A Bob Mathews: Humoresque and Swanee River, mx. 11105
Rainbow 1017B Bob Mathews: Take My Life and Let It Be, mx. 11106
Rainbow 1019B Asher & Rodeheaver Still Undecided
Rainbow 1020B Homer Rodeheaver: He Whispers His Love to Me
Rainbow 1026A Loren Jones: Oh My Soul Bless Thou Jehovah, early mx.
Rainbow 1026B Loren Jones: ‘Tis the Precious Name of Jesus, early mx.
Rainbow 1028A Loren Jones: The Man of Galilee, early mx.
Rainbow 1028A Loren Jones: Christ Returneth, early mx.
Note: Rainbow 1026/1028 is not listed in any catalog before 1922, and the versions commonly found of both are Marsh Labs electricals made late in that year. But according to a newspaper article found by Richard Rachielson, an earlier incarnation of these discs were flown up to Steubenville, Ohio — Loren Jones’ home town — and sold out within a day in April of 1921. So far, no copies have surfaced.
Rainbow 1032A Dan Beddoe: A Heart Like Thine
Rainbow 1032B Dan Beddoe: Jesus is Mine
Rainbow 1037A Homer Rodeheaver: Brighten the Corner Where You Are, mx. 7901
Rainbow 1037B Homer Rodeheaver: Open My Eyes, mx. 7892
Rainbow 1038A Homer Rodeheaver: If Your Heart Keeps Right, mx. 7891
Rainbow 1038A Homer Rodeheaver: If Your Heart Keeps Right, mx. 8072
Rainbow 1038B Homer Rodeheaver: One Day
Rainbow 1039A Homer Rodeheaver: When Malindy Sings, mx. 11104
Rainbow 1039B Homer Rodeheaver: Me An’ Pap An’ Mother, mx. 11088
Rainbow 1040A Homer Rodeheaver: Since Jesus Came Into My Heart, mx. 8423
Rainbow 1042A Homer Rodeheaver: Lonesome
Rainbow 1042B Homer Rodeheaver: Carry On!
Rainbow 1047A Asher & Rodeheaver: All the Way to Calvary, mx. 11103
Rainbow 1047B Asher & Rodeheaver: Calling Thee, mx. 11100
Rainbow 1047B Ruth Rodeheaver: O Hear Him Calling Thee, mx. 7881
Rainbow 1048B Asher & Rodeheaver: Christ Died, mx. 11102
Rainbow 1049B Homer Rodeheaver: A Banjo Song, late mx.
Rainbow 1050A Homer Rodeheaver: Spelling Love
Rainbow 1050B Homer Rodeheaver: Happiness
Rainbow 1052B Homer Rodeheaver: Good Night and Good Morning, mx. 7911B
Rainbow 1055A Homer Rodeheaver: Christ is All
Rainbow 1055B Homer Rodeheaver: The Hem of His Garment
Rainbow 1059A Homer Rodeheaver: Sweeter As the Years Roll By, mx. 7902
Rainbow 1059B Homer Rodeheaver: Transformed
Rainbow 1061A Homer Rodeheaver: Brighten the Corner Where You Are, mx. 7901
Rainbow 1061B Homer Rodeheaver: If Your Heart Keeps Right, mx. 7891
Rainbow 1061B Homer Rodeheaver: If Your Heart Keeps Right, mx. 8072
Rainbow 1086 Wiseman Sextet: A Great Camp Meeting
Rainbow 1086 Wiseman Sextet: I Know I Been Changed
Rainbow 1088A Wiseman Quartet: Hush, Somebody’s Calling My Name
Rainbow 1088B Wiseman Quartet: I Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray
Rainbow 1089A Homer Rodeheaver & Wiseman Sextet: Do You Think I’ll Make a Soldier
Rainbow 1089B Homer Rodeheaver & Wiseman Sextet: Sign of Judgment & That Old Time Religion
Rainbow 1096A Wiseman Quartet: I Have a Mother in the Rock of Ages
Rainbow 1096B Wiseman Quartet: Hard Tryin’
Rainbow 1103 Homer Rodeheaver: Yes He Did
Rainbow 1103 Homer Rodeheaver: I Heard de Angels Singing
Rainbow 1104 Homer Rodeheaver: There is Power in the Blood
Rainbow 1104 Homer Rodeheaver: Elijah’s God Still Loves
Rainbow 1105 Homer Rodeheaver: The Lily of the Valley
Rainbow 1105 Homer Rodeheaver: I Love to Tell the Story
Rainbow 1108 Homer Rodeheaver: Love Found a Way
Rainbow 1108 Homer Rodeheaver: Will the Circle Be Broken
Rainbow 1110A Elton Roth & Rodeheaver: The End of the Road
Rainbow 1110B Homer Rodeheaver: I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go
Rainbow 1111A Wiseman Quartet: Hand Me Down the Silver Trumpet
Rainbow 1111B Wiseman Quartet: O, Rocks Please Don’t Fall Down on Me
Rainbow 1112A Wiseman Sextet: What Kind of Shoes Will You Wear
Rainbow 1112B Wiseman Sextet: Look Away to Heaven
Rainbow 1113 Homer Rodeheaver: The Living God
Rainbow 1113 Homer Rodeheaver: Recessional
Rainbow 1115 Homer Rodeheaver: Glorious City
Rainbow 1115 Homer Rodeheaver: Does Jesus Care
Rainbow 1116 Cambrian Mixed Quartet: Hail! All Hail the Glorious Name
Rainbow 1116 Cambrian Mixed Quartet: The First Noel
Rainbow 1118 Homer Rodeheaver: Is This Not the Land of Beulah?
Rainbow 1118 Homer Rodeheaver: Palms of Victory
Rainbow 1124 Homer Rodeheaver: The Battle Cry of Freedom
Rainbow 1124 Homer Rodeheaver: America the Beautiful
Rainbow 1125 Homer Rodeheaver: Columbia’s Song
Rainbow 1125 Homer Rodeheaver: America for Me
Rainbow 1127 Homer Rodeheaver: A Child of the King
Rainbow 1127 Homer Rodeheaver: An Old Fashioned Meeting
Rainbow 1128A Jackson College Jubilee Singers: Swing Low
Rainbow 1128B Jackson College Jubilee Singers: Steal Away
Rainbow 100 Jaroslav Cimera: The Palms
Rainbow 100 Jaroslav Cimera: The Lost Chord
Rainbow 102 Salvation Army Territorial Staff Band: Hallelujah Chorus
Rainbow 102 Salvation Army Territorial Staff Band: Jesus is Mighty to Save
Rainbow 103 Salvation Army Territorial Staff Band: Unknown selections
Rainbow 300A H.F. Larsen: Jesus Gör Mig Nöld och Stilla
Rainbow 300B H.F. Larsen: Om Dagen Mig Hos Jesus, mx. 740, 750
Rainbow 301 H.F. Larsen: Vill Du Möta Nig Hos Jesus
Rainbow 301 H.F. Larsen: Jesus Kallar
Rainbow 500A Homer Rodeheaver: Jesus Loves Me (in Japanese)
Rainbow 500B Homer Rodeheaver: What a Friend We Have in Jesus (in Japanese)
Rainbow 600A Homer Rodeheaver: If I Could Be By Her
Rainbow 600B Homer Rodeheaver: Negro Stories of the War
Rainbow 8000 Homer Rodeheaver: One Night When Sorrow Burdens You
Rainbow 8000 Homer Rodeheaver: O God of Love
Rainbow unnumbered Homer Rodeheaver: Christmas Greetings 1921
Rainbow unnumbered Homer Rodeheaver: The Heavenly Stranger, mx. 511
Rainbow unnumbered Homer Rodeheaver: Brightening the Corner Around the World

When Homer Rodeheaver moved the company to Chicago in early 1922 — after a failed bid to re-establish it in New York City — he placed it in the charge of his brother Yumbert Rodeheaver. The Rodeheaver Record Company then immediately offered a service to make “Special” records, drawing upon a business model developed by Gennett in Richmond. Anybody could make records as long as they paid for them; they need not talent, just the desire to be on wax. Making Special records was part of one’s training if a person was studying singing with Homer Rodeheaver, and he continued this practice with semi-pro equipment in his lessons even in the 1940s and 50s. Ultimately, Rodeheaver’s Special and Gennett’s Personal merged for a time, sharing jobs and production duties. Specials commonly bear no issue numbers, but many show at least a matrix, and these appear in a dizzying variety. Though Chicago city directories list the Rodeheaver Record Company as active through 1929, the latest recording I can find dates to just 1927. Some of these records were one-sided.

The listing below are just of Rodeheaver Specials I know about and don’t have, but there are doubtless many others — possibly hundreds more — that I do not know about at all. Even if you don’t want to part with your Special — and I can hardly blame you, as some were produced in runs as low as *six* copies — I’d still love the data, a label scan and an audio recording if possible. I would appreciate ANY help that can be offered on the Special label; no ledger or published catalog is known to exist for it. Some of these are the most obscure records of the 1920s.

As to label types, these appear in a tremendous variety. But, in brief, the earliest label is of this ornate design, often with a picture of the artist located in an oval placed at the top. Perhaps there was an extra charge for this service, as many show a generic design inside the oval, rather than a picture.

Special Carter

Special no inset

However, as with Rainbow, printing the label ultimately passed to Gennett, which opted for a far simpler, “batwing” design like Victor had lately abandoned for its “scroll.” And this typified the appearance of Specials from about 1925 to the end, whenever that was.

Special bat

Special 2017 Henry Proctor: Address to Negroes
Special 2017 Nazarene Choir: Lift Every Voice and Sing
Special 8650 Alice Shekelton & Everett C. Mills: Row Us Over the Tide
Special 8650 Alice Shekelton & Everett C. Mills: The Old Rugged Cross
Special 20115A Dr. Bhagahat Singh Thind: “Aum” The Sacred Hum of the Universe
Special 20115B Dr. Bhagahat Singh Thind: Purifying the Sub-concious Mind
Special 20157 Warren Lowman & Mrs. Lowman: The Old Fashioned Meeting
Special 20157 Warren Lowman & Mrs. Lowman: There’s Nothing Here to Destroy Our Joy
Special 20173A Eleanor H. Rosen: Coquette — Marguerites
Special 20173A Eleanor H. Rosen: School Days — French Doll
Special 20177A Miss Marie Danielson: Sjelens Langsel (Whispering Hope)
Special 20177B Miss Marie Danielson: Naar Verden Glemmer
Special K-3 The Stuttering Klansman
Special K-3 The Klansman and the Rain
Special unnumbered Alvin L. Carter: When They Ring Those Golden Bells, mx. 859
Special unnumbered Selma Ford with Martha Ingram: Thank God There’s a Garden
Special unnumbered Selma Ford with Martha Ingram: When Irish Eyes are Smiling
Special unnumbered Oscar W. Green: O Kuude Jag Fõrtãlja
Special unnumbered Hildred Hanson Hostetter: Absent and Home Sweet Home
Special unnumbered Hildred Hanson Hostetter: Ave Maria
Special unnumbered Ladies Quartet, Galesburg, Ill.: Songs of the Seasons
Special unnumbered G.A. Leichleiter & Peter Quartet: Hide Me
Special unnumbered G.A. Leichleiter & Peter Quartet: The Old Ship Zion
Special unnumbered Rev. E. Arthur Lewis: Lord Jesus Knows the Way I Take
Special unnumbered Rev. E. Arthur Lewis: I’m in Sweet Beulah Land
Special unnumbered The Urbana Male Quartet: Remember Now Thy Creator
Special unnumbered The Urbana Male Quartet: We Shall Shine as the Stars

Rody Ge

Rodeheaver entered into an agreement with Gennett about the time he moved to Chicago whereby they would help him in producing Rainbow Records and, in return, they could make free use of the Rainbow catalog for their own purposes. Many Rainbows have a parallel release on Gennett, though the couplings are usually not the same, nor are the takes used. Rodeheaver also had a more limited agreement with Paramount where his studio recorded some of their master discs and he also passed a few Rainbows through their channels as well. There is still a lot of work to be done in terms of divining just what RRC did for Paramount, and it’s treacherous waters as you need to separate them from similar NYRL matrix numbers, though I’m certain the ones listed below were either recorded, or at least booked, by the Rodeheavers. I don’t have very many of Rody’s Gennetts at all; these are scarce. I do have many of the Rainbows of these titles, but the Gennetts are almost invariably different. The Silvertones derived from them are more common, and I suspect that there were a lot more made than in the little listing below.

Rody Champ

Black Patti 8017 Henry Proctor: Address to Negroes
Black Patti 8017 Nazarene Choir: Lift Every Voice and Sing
Black Patti 8018 Nazarene Choir: Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho
Black Patti 8018 Nazarene Choir: Bye and Bye
Carnival 11397-A Jelly Roll Morton’s Steamboat Four: Mr. Jelly Lord
Champion 15087 Criterion Quartet: The Church in the Wildwood, mx. 7533
Champion 15150 Homer Rodeheaver: If Your Heart Keeps Right
Champion 15150 Asher & Rodeheaver: The Old Rugged Cross
Champion 15358 Nazarene Choir: Bye and Bye
Champion 15358 Nazarene Choir: Lift Every Voice and Sing
Champion 15380 Nazarene Choir: Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho
Champion 16378 Nazarene Choir: Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho
Gennett 1119 Charles Hart & Rodeheaver: Praise His Name
Gennett 1119 Charles Hart & Rodeheaver: I Need Jesus
Gennett 1120 Charles Hart & Rodeheaver: Grace Greater Than Our Sin
Gennett 1120 Elton Roth & Rodeheaver: In the Dawn of Eternal Day
Gennett 1121 Charles Hart & Rodeheaver: Jesus Has Loved Me
Gennett 1121 Asher & Rodeheaver: O the Bitter Shame and Sorrow
Gennett 1123 Homer Rodeheaver: He Died of a Broken Heart
Gennett 1123 Homer Rodeheaver: Walking and Talking with Jesus
Gennett 1124 Homer Rodeheaver: The Battle Cry of Freedom
Gennett 1124 Homer Rodeheaver: America the Beautiful
Gennett 1125 Homer Rodeheaver: Columbia’s Song
Gennett 1125 Homer Rodeheaver: America for Me
Gennett 1126 Homer Rodeheaver: The Stranger of Galilee
Gennett 1126 Homer Rodeheaver: The Church by the Side of the Road
Gennett 4790 Criterion Quartet: The Church in the Wildwood, mx. 7533
Gennett 4860 Asher & Rodeheaver: Calling Thee, mx. 11100
Gennett 4860 Asher & Rodeheaver: When I Look in His Face, mx. 11001
Gennett 4861A Asher & Rodeheaver: Christ Died, mx. 11102
Gennett 4861A Asher & Rodeheaver: Christ Died, mx. 7844
Gennett 4861B Asher & Rodeheaver: All the Way to Calvary, mx. 11103
Gennett 4861B Asher & Rodeheaver: All the Way to Calvary, mx. 7845
Gennett 4862 Homer Rodeheaver: A Banjo Song
Gennett 4862 Homer Rodeheaver: Golden Crown
Gennett 4894 Homer Rodeheaver: Open My Eyes
Gennett 4894 Asher & Rodeheaver: The Old Rugged Cross
Gennett 4896 Homer Rodeheaver: Brighten the Corner Where You Are
Gennett 4896 Homer Rodeheaver: If Your Heart Keeps Right
Gennett 4897 Homer Rodeheaver: Sweeter As the Years Roll By
Gennett 4897 Homer Rodeheaver: Mother’s Prayers Are Calling Me
Gennett 4899 Homer Rodeheaver: Carry Your Cross with a Smile
Gennett 4899 Homer Rodeheaver: Happiness
Gennett 4900 Homer Rodeheaver & John Young: Only the Childlike
Gennett 4900 Homer Rodeheaver: Spelling Love
Gennett 4901 Ruth Rodeheaver: The Last Rose of Summer
Gennett 4901 Ruth Rodeheaver: O Hear Him Calling Thee
Gennett 4916 Homer Rodeheaver & Criterion Quartet: The Sinner and the Song
Gennett 4916 Homer Rodeheaver & Criterion Quartet: The Church in the Wildwood, mxs. 7908, 7908B
Gennett 4970 Criterion Quartet: Nearer My God to Thee, mx. 7761A
Gennett 4986 Homer Rodeheaver: Tell Me the Story of Jesus
Gennett 4986 Homer Rodeheaver: The Heavenly Stranger
Gennett 4987A Homer Rodeheaver: The Unclouded Day
Gennett 4987B Homer Rodeheaver: Laying My Treasure Up There
Gennett 5079 Asher & Rodeheaver: Some of These Days
Gennett 5079 Asher & Rodeheaver: The Hand That Was Wounded for Me
Gennett 5089 Asher & Rodeheaver: No Disappointment in Heaven
Gennett 5089 Asher & Rodeheaver: Take Up Thy Cross
Gennett 5141 Homer Rodeheaver: Go and Tell Others of Jesus
Gennett 5141 Homer Rodeheaver: The Old Ark’s A-Moverin’
Gennett 5178 Homer Rodeheaver: Song of Triumph
Gennett 5178 Homer Rodeheaver: In the Woods
Gennett 5215A Homer Rodeheaver: How Tedious and Tasteless the Hours
Gennett 5215B Homer Rodeheaver: Throw Out the Life Line, mxs. 8422, 8940
Gennett 5216B William Jennings Bryan: The Virgin Birth
Gennett 5224A William Jennings Bryan: The Ideal Republic
Gennett 5225 Criterion Quartet: Nearer My God to Thee, mx. 7761A
Gennett 5216 William Jennings Bryan: Immortality
Gennett 5216 William Jennings Bryan: Open My Eyes
Gennett 5226 William Jennings Bryan: The 23rd Psalm
Gennett 5226 William Jennings Bryan: The Lord’s Prayer
Gennett 5227 Homer Rodeheaver: Somebody Cares
Gennett 5227 Homer Rodeheaver: Where They Never Say Goodbye
Gennett 5533 Homer Rodeheaver: Beautiful Isle of Somewhere
Gennett 5533 Homer Rodeheaver: Will the Circle Be Broken
Gennett 5534 Homer Rodeheaver: Love Found a Way
Gennett 5534 Homer Rodeheaver: I Love to Tell the Story
Gennett 5235 Homer Rodeheaver: Jesus Loves You
Gennett 5235 Homer Rodeheaver: Keep On Singing
Gennett 5595 Asher & Rodeheaver: Love Led Me to Calvary
Gennett 5595 Homer Rodeheaver: Glorious City
Gennett 5672 Homer Rodeheaver: I Heard de Angels Singing
Gennett 5672 Asher & Rodeheaver: Some of These Days
Gennett 7914 Homer Rodeheaver: One Day
Gennett 8423 Homer Rodeheaver: Since Jesus Came into My Heart
Gennett 8963 Homer Rodeheaver: An Evening Prayer
Gennett 11100 Asher & Rodeheaver: Calling Thee, mx. 11100
Gennett 11101 Asher & Rodeheaver: When I Look in His Face, mx. 11001
Gennett 11102 Asher & Rodeheaver: Christ Died, mx. 11102
Gennett 11103 Asher & Rodeheaver: All the Way to Calvary, mx. 11103
Gennett 11104 Homer Rodeheaver: When Malindy Sings, mx. 11104
Note: Gennett 11100-11104 were special, single-sided white label pressings made to celebrate the first commercially issued discs from the Starr Piano Company studio in Richmond, IN, which these were.
Gennett 40000 William Jennings Bryan: Cross of Gold Speech — Part One
Gennett 40000 William Jennings Bryan: Cross of Gold Speech — Part Two
Gopsel Trumpet 7A William Jennings Bryan: The Lord’s Prayer
Gospel Trumpet 200A William Jennings Bryan: The 23rd Psalm
Gypsy Simon Smith unnumbered Gypsy Simon Smith: At the End of the Trail
Gypsy Simon Smith unnumbered Gypsy Simon Smith: Harbor of Peace
Gypsy Simon Smith unnumbered Gypsy Simon Smith: Mother’s Prayer
Gypsy Simon Smith unnumbered Gypsy Simon Smith: The Old Fashioned Cottage
Harmograph 920 Wiseman Quartet: Hush, Somebody’s Calling My Name
Harmograph 2544 Monette Moore: Gulf Coast Blues
Herwin 75512 Homer Rodeheaver: Mother’s Prayers Are Calling Me
Herwin 75512 Homer Rodeheaver & Criterion Quartet: The Church in the Wildwood
Herwin 92009 Nazarene Choir: Bye and Bye
Meyer 20109 Vilhelm Meyer The Evangelist
Okeh 40489 Kim & Nyland: I Will Sing of My Redeemer
Okeh 40489 Kim & Nyland: Keep Me on the Firing Line
Note: I have ample copies of this coupling on Rainbow; it is the Okeh that I’m missing.
Paramount 12028 Monette Moore: I Just Want a Daddy
Paramount 12028 Monette Moore: Come Home Papa Blues
Paramount 12030 Monette Moore: Gulf Coast Blues
Paramount 12030 Monette Moore: Down Hearted Blues
Paramount 12075 Wiseman Sextet: You Better Run
Paramount 12075 Wiseman Sextet: Witness
Paramount 12076 Wiseman Quartet: Lord I Can’t Stay Away
Paramount 12076 Wiseman Sextet: On Calvary
Paramount 12077 Wiseman Sextet: Sign of Judgment & That Old Time Religion
Paramount 12077 Wiseman Quartet: Hush, Somebody’s Calling My Name
Paramount 12078 Wiseman Quartet: I Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray
Paramount 12078 Wiseman Sextet: Do You Think I’ll Make a Soldier
Paramount 12216A Jelly Roll Morton: Thirty Fifth St. Blues
Paramount 12216B Jelly Roll Morton: Mamanita
Paramount 20332-A Jelly Roll Morton’s Steamboat Four: Mr. Jelly Lord
Puretone 11397-A Jelly Roll Morton’s Steamboat Four: Mr. Jelly Lord
Puritan 12216 Jelly Roll Morton: Mamanita
Silvertone 2017 Henry Proctor: Address to Negroes
Silvertone 4915 Homer Rodeheaver: Mother’s Prayers Are Calling Me, mx. 7890
Silvertone 5022 Nazarene Choir: Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho
Silvertone 5022 Nazarene Choir: Bye and Bye
Silvertone 5089 Asher & Rodeheaver: No Disappointment in Heaven
Silvertone 5089 Asher & Rodeheaver: Take Up Thy Cross
Silvertone 9366 The Berge Sisters: Over the Top for Jesus
Silvertone 9366 The Berge Sisters: He Careth for Me
Silvertone 9491 William Jennings Bryan: The 23rd Psalm
Starr-Gennett 9145 Criterion Quartet: The Church in the Wildwood, mx. 7533
Steiner-Davis 101A Jelly Roll Morton: Mamanita
The Stamps Record 100A Dreams of the Past
The Stamps Record 100B My Kinky Headed Baby

Rody Sil

The Rodeheaver Record Company also recorded Gospel Trumpet records, and of those I only have Gospel Trumpet 5. The Gospel Trumpets made by Rodeheaver were 1-7 and 11-12; the rest were made at Columbia in New York. Nearly all feature Arthur Lynn, “America’s Golden Tenor.” I beg to differ with that assessment.

RB PW

As to post-World War II Rainbows; I know what they are, and yeah — I’ve got a few. Not many at all. So any suggestions are welcome.

That was fun! Next time we will deal with the Rody commercial recordings that I don’t have — far fewer of those. Please help me!

— Uncle Dave Lewis, Lebanon, Ohio.

A Preliminary Billy Golden Discography

Image

There are those who would wonder why anyone would bother with documenting the work and career of Billy Golden (1858-1926). Golden is seen in some quarters as representing everything that’s repellent and socially unacceptable in the early phonograph industry; a racial pariah whose work amounts to no more than serial abuse of African-Americans. However, I am forced to deal with Mr. Golden as he is a Cincinnati native, born William B. Shires, and though it is said that he grew up in St. Louis it appears that he made his theatrical debut in his birthplace as well, in 1874. Historically, Golden arrives in the annals of Cincinnati recording artists right behind the advent of James Andem and the fellows who ran the Ohio Phonograph Company. Golden was also the first recording artist whose very name on a record helped to sell it, even before the advent of other early recording stars such as Arthur Collins and Enrico Caruso. Moreover, the role of the A&R man in the phonograph industry seems likewise to have begun with Golden, who worked in such capacity for Emile Berliner. If it were not for Golden, then it is entirely possible that the flat disc record would have failed and we would still be listening to recordings on cylindrical media.

In order to speak on in an informed way on Golden I felt that I needed to know the extent of his output, which in sheer numbers of records issued is impressive, but in terms of selection, somewhat limited. While Golden had more routines in his trick bag than the two that his contemporary George W. Johnson possessed, like Johnson he recorded them over and over again for the early phonograph companies, particularly his signature piece, “Turkey in the Straw.” Once the more durable, and easily replicated, flat disc gained some traction in the market, and cylinder manufacturers found ways to mass reproduce their products, then Golden’s services were not needed as before and he was forced to diversify. This he did by working with collaborators, and managed to extend his recording career from 1895 all the way to 1921, a full 26 years. While the records may be many, the routines are not so numerous, and I have decided to organize this listing by artist — whether Golden solo, or in collaboration — selection, date, matrix (when known) and issue. When a release is known on a particular label, but not the stock number, the label name alone is given. Dates can be somewhat flexible; the date of “1896-1899” for the Columbia cylinder of “Medley of Negro Songs” may refer to one record made within those years or several versions of the same thing recorded within those poles. Recording data is more definite after 1900, but as cylinder companies found ways to mass produce cylinders, some issues from the 1890s were circulated anew. It is in some cases unclear whether a cylinder issued, say, in 1903 might have been a reissue of something originally made in the ’90s.

There is considerable confusion out in the field, even now, about Golden, particularly in regard to his collaborative records. Discogs.com tells us that he recorded with Arthur Collins, which he certainly never did, though one of his records was mistakenly issued under Collins’ name. Arthur Collins was the “King of the Ragtime Singers,” and represented current, contemporary repertoire; he easily adapted to the first years of the “Great American Songbook” as it emerged around 1910. By contrast, most of the material Golden recorded in terms of songs — usually crammed into the end of a comedy routine, or interrupted by spoken patter — have a terminus ante quem of about 1880. He was an old school entertainer even as began recording in 1895 and represents a holdover from the mid-nineteenth century, both his greatest value historically and most damnable curse socially. He preferred old material, and the entertainers he collaborated with were old timers like himself. Joe Hughes was Golden’s regular partner from the vaudeville stage and joined him on records from about 1907. In 1914, Joe Hughes decided to retire, and was replaced by James Marlowe, who died unexpectedly in the spring of 1917. As a short term replacement, Golden tapped Billy Heins, with whom by chance he had made a collaborative record in the early 1900s, but their relationship was more that of competitors, rather than collaborators. Eventually, Hughes was coaxed out of retirement and rejoined Golden’s act, but in the last phase of Golden’s recording career it appears that he worked interchangeably with both Hughes and Heins.

Confusion about Golden is due to assumptions and neglect; an assumption that his output is much larger than it actually is and neglect owing to the kind of material that he recorded. This list is necessarily “preliminary” as it does not include everything Golden did; although we are much better off with the state of research on early labels like Berliner and Columbia cylinders than we were 20 years ago, there is still plenty of information about late nineteenth-century releases that we are lacking. Moreover, Golden worked quite a bit for the 1910s hill and dale disc companies where information can be scant as well. Nevertheless, it may be complete in terms of the recorded routines that he employed. My experience in going through it one last time and adding information did not yield any new titles, even as I was able to add matrices and other data to certain records, everything else was already there.

Despite this effort, the societal animus towards Golden’s stereotypical bill of fare is still the rule, and this is unlikely to change. It is a clear case of judging the past through the lens of the present; today, all such material is “racist,” and racism is viewed as the product of hate, unacceptable in our society. Golden’s work, however, was not the product of hate. It was a conventional standard of entertainment in America established just short of 50 years before Golden entered the business, a milieu that was inclusive of both white and black entertainers. The blackface associated with minstrelsy served as both a variety of clown makeup and also to create an onstage unanimity of appearance before an audience that either way could not bear to witness a mixed race troupe, which the minstrel groups invariably were, especially by Golden’s time. Golden’s material was a distillation of both African-American and Anglo-American routines, and for a listener of my middle age what is striking about it is its familiarity: some of these jokes survived throughout the age of black vaudeville, Amos ‘n Andy, Pigmeat Markham and down through Sanford and Son and The Jeffersons.

Knowing that does not take the sting out of Al Jolson’s image on the movie poster for “The Jazz Singer” with its ludicrous representation of blackness and the implication that the Russian-Jewish Jolson and his hammy, over-the-top delivery could somehow qualify him as a “jazz singer.” By the time that film ushered in the era of talking pictures in a public sense, Golden himself was dead and the more modern generation of “coon shouters” represented by Arthur Collins was soon to follow. Will Friedwald is more correct in assigning to Jolie the appellation of “The Moses of Popular Culture” which he certainly was; perhaps the most appropriate question therefore is why our popular culture continued to hang on to such images even as they were already outdated. The Victor books of the 1910s show that Victor was beginning to reject some of Golden’s routines as objectionable even as some of the same ones were appearing on other labels. Golden’s retreat into the hill and dale disc concerns during this time may have been caused by the fact that the majors were growing tired of his act, though apparently not the Edison Company, which — as Gerald Fabris has shown — existed by this time mainly through servicing customers in rural areas.

Even as we see ourselves as more enlightened in regard to race, and more sensitive, we do lack a more granular kind of understanding of the evolution of the perception of race in these historic periods. It all seems “racist” now, but Golden’s recordings document the “Ethiopian” phase of dialect humor that existed well before the advent of recording itself, representing an historic trend we might otherwise would know very little about outside of sheet music and broadsides. If my listing below helps to provide access to scholars to Golden’s time and milieu then perhaps I have done my job. I do not censor titles used on the records despite how objectionable they may seem in the current context. When it is possible to combine title variants for the same routine across different releases, I have done so. — David N. “Uncle Dave” Lewis

Guide to abbreviations:

cyl = cylinder

Edison 4M = Edison Amberol cylinder

Edison BA = Edison Blue Amberol cylinder

Edison DD = Edison Diamond Disc

Edison GM = Edison Gold Moulded cylinder

PM = Victor “pre-matrix,” i.e. Victor discs issued before they established their matrix system

Section A: Billy Golden as soloist

Bye Bye Ma Honey

  • 1895-11-4                                                                                Berliner 727
  • 1896-12                                                                                   Berliner 727-X
  • 1899-9-27                                                                                Berliner 0543-V
  • 1900-6-5, PM A-68-1                                                               Victor A-68
  • 1901-10-31, PM A-68-2                                                           Victor 68
  • 1901-10-31, PM B-68-M1                                                        Victor 68
  • 1902-5-2, PM A-68-V6, V7                                                      Victor 68
  • 1902-5-2, PM B-68-M3                                                            Victor 68
  • 1902-11                                                                                   Columbia 1102, Climax
  • 1904                                                                                        American Record Co. 30503
  • 1904                                                                                        Edison GM 8629
  • 1905                                                                                        Zonophone 236, Oxford 236
  • 1906-9-25, B-3832-1                                                               Victor 68, 16747
  • 1906-9-25, E-3832-2                                                               Victor 68

Crap Shooting

  • 1901-1-9, PM A-617-1                                                                       Victor A-617
  • 1901-10-31, PM A-617-V3                                                                 Victor 617
  • 1901-10-31, PM B-617-M1                                                                Victor 617
  • 1902-5-2, PM A-617-V6                                                                     Victor 617
  • 1902-5-2, PM B-617-M3, M4                                                              Victor 617

Hot Time Medley

1897-4-16                                                                                          Berliner 731

I’m a Nigger That’s Living High                                                 

1903, 1109D                                                                                      Columbia cyl 32045D*

*credited as “An Evening with the Minstrels”

Listen to the Mockingbird, aka The Mocking Bird

  • 1896-1900                                                                                          Columbia 7701
  • 1897-2-17                                                                                           Berliner 403-ZZ
  • 1901-1-9, PM A-618-1-2                                                                     Victor A-618
  • 1901-10-31, PM B-618-M1                                                                  Victor 618
  • 1903-9-1, A-378-1                                                                               Victor 618
  • 1919, 1-266                                                                                         Federal 5050, Silvertone 2050
  • 1920, 41039                                                                                        Arto 3016, Bell S16
  • 1920-6, 41167-4, 1144                                                                       Emerson 10291, Regal 9390, Banner 2062

Medley of Coon Songs

  • 1903                                                                                                    Edison GM 8491

Medley of Negro Songs

1896-1899                                                                                           Columbia 7713

Mixed Ale Party

  • 1896-12-19                                                                                         Berliner 729
  • 1900                                                                                                    Zonophone W9288
  • 1904                                                                                                    American Record Co. 30502

Rabbit Hash

  • 1895-10-10                                                                                         Berliner 635W
  • 1899-9-27                                                                                           Berliner 0545-V
  • 1901-1-9, PM A-622-1-2                                                                     Victor A-622
  • 1901-10-31, PM A-622-V3                                                                  Victor 622
  • 1902-5-2, PM A-622-V7                                                                      Victor 622
  • 1902-11, 1103                                                                                    Columbia 1103, A-290, Oxford 1103
  • 1903-9-1, A-381-1                                                                              Victor unissued
  • 1903-9-1, B-381-1, 2                                                                          Victor unissued
  • 1903                                                                                                   Edison GM 8328
  • 1905-5-10, A-381-3                                                                            Victor 622
  • 1905-5-10, B-381-3-4                                                                         Victor unissued
  • 1905                                                                                                   Columbia cyl 85031
  • 1908-11-24, B-381-5                                                                          Victor 16199
  • 1920-12, 7694-A                                                                                Okeh 4249
  • 1921-5, 5122                                                                                     Brunswick 2117

 Roll on the Ground, aka Roll on de Ground

  • 1896                                                                                                   Berliner 725
  • 1898                                                                                                   Columbia cyl 7709
  • 1900                                                                                                   Zonophone W9290
  • 1901-1-9, PM A-616-2                                                                        Victor A-616
  • 1901-3                                                                                                Columbia 67, Busy Bee 67
  • 1901-10-31, PM A-616-3                                                                    Victor A-616
  • 1901-10-31, PM B-616-M1, M2                                                          Victor 616
  • 1902-5-2, PM A-616-V7                                                                     Victor 616
  • 1902-5-2, PM B-616-M3                                                                    Victor 616
  • 1903-9-1, B-377-2                                                                             Victor 616
  • 1903-9-1, A-377-1                                                                             Victor 616
  • 1904                                                                                                  American Record Co. 30507
  • 1904                                                                                                  Zonophone 5784
  • 1905-5-10, B-2544-1-3                                                                     Victor 616
  • 1905-5-10, B-2544-3                                                                        Victor 16804
  • 1909                                                                                                 Indestructible 1131

Sisseretta’s Visit to the North

  • 1904                                                                                                 Busy Bee 5417
  • 1906-9-25, E-3832-1                                                                        Victor 4887
  • 1906-12                                                                                            Columbia 3581, A-508, A-3582, Oxford 3581, Star 5147, Climax

Turkey in the Straw

  • 1896-12-19                                                                                       Berliner 726-X
  • 1896-12-19                                                                                       Berliner 726-Z
  • 1896-1897                                                                                        Columbia cyl 7703
  • 1896-1899                                                                                        Edison cyl 4011
  • 1899-9-27                                                                                         Berliner 0541-V
  • 1900                                                                                                  Zonophone W9287
  • 1901-1-9, PM A-65-2                                                                         Victor A-65
  • 1901-1-9, PM A-65-3                                                                         Victor A-65, Berliner Canada 587
  • 1901-10-31, PM A-65-V4, V5                                                             Victor 65
  • 1901-10-31, PM B-65-M1                                                                   Victor 65
  • 1901-12                                                                                              Columbia 501, Busy Bee 501
  • 1902-5-2, PM A-65-V7                                                                       Victor 65
  • 1902-5-2, PM B-65-M4                                                                       Victor 65
  • 1902-11, 1101-1                                                                                Columbia 1101, A-295, A-1291, Oxford 1101
  • 1903-9-1, 376-3                                                                                 Victor 65
  • 1903-9-1, A-376-1-2                                                                          Victor 65
  • 1903                                                                                                   Edison GM 8293
  • 1904                                                                                                   American Record Co. 30501
  • 1904                                                                                                   Columbia cyl 33065, Busy Bee cyl 452
  • 1904                                                                                                   Busy Bee D27
  • 1904                                                                                                   Zonophone 5789
  • 1905-5-10, A-2543                                                                             Victor 4515
  • 1905-5-10, B-2543-3                                                                          Victor 4515
  • 1905                                                                                                   Columbia cyl 85030
  • 1905                                                                                                   Zonophone 172
  • 1906-9-25, B-2543-5                                                                          Victor 4515
  • 1906-9-25, E-2543-1-3                                                                       Victor 4515
  • 1906-10, 30041                                                                                  Columbia cyl 30041, A-5031
  • 1907                                                                                                   Columbia cyl 33065
  • 1908-11-25, B-2543-8                                                                        Victor 4515, 17256
  • 1908                                                                                                   Indestructible 941
  • 1908                                                                                                   U.S. Everlasting 307
  • 1912-8, 38215                                                                                    Columbia A-295, A-1291
  • 1918                                                                                                   Emerson 729
  • 1919, 2-263                                                                                        Federal 5050, Silvertone 2050
  • 1920-10-15, B-2543-12                                                                      Victor 17256
  • 1920-11, 7694-A                                                                                 Okeh 4249

Uncle Jefferson, aka Ole Uncle Jefferson

  • 1896-12                                                                                              Berliner 728
  • 1896-1899                                                                                          Columbia cyl 7720
  • 1899-12-1                                                                                           Berliner 0775-V
  • 1901-1-9, PM A-621-1                                                                        Victor A-621
  • 1901-10-31, PM B-621-M1                                                                 Victor 621
  • 1903-9-1, A-380-1-2                                                                           Victor 621
  • 1903-9-1, B-380 -1-2                                                                          Victor unissued (?)

Up on the Golden Shore

  • 1900                                                                                                    Zonophone W9294
  • 1904                                                                                                    Zonophone 6080

The Wedding over the Hill, aka De Wedding ober de Hill; The Wedding o’er the Hill                    

  • 1896-12-19                                                                                          Berliner 730
  • 1899-9-27                                                                                            Berliner 0546-V
  • 1901-1-9, PM A-619-1                                                                         Victor A-619
  • 1901-10-31, PM B-619-M1                                                                  Victor 619
  • 1903-9-1, A-379-1                                                                               Victor 619
  • 1903-9-1, B-378-2                                                                               Victor 619

Yaller Gal, also Laughing Song Yaller Gal

  • 1899-9-27                                                                                            Berliner 0542-V
  • 1901-1-9, PM A-620-2                                                                         Victor A-620
  • 1901-10-31, PM A-620-V4                                                                   Victor 620
  • 1902-5-2, PM A-620-V6                                                                       Victor 620, Oxford 5333*
  • 1904                                                                                                     Edison GM 8681
  • 1905-5-10, B-2545-1                                                                            Victor 620
  • 1906-9-25, B-2545-3                                                                            Victor 620
  • 1906-9-25, E-2545-2                                                                            Victor 620
  • 1908-11-25, B-2545-9-10                                                                     Victor 16164

*Oxford 5333 credited to Arthur Collins

Section B: Billy Golden & Joe Hughes

An Easy Job on the Farm

1912-4                                                                                                  Edison 4M 958, BA 1907

Aunt Mandy

  • 1911-9-7, B-10934-2                                                                            Victor 17011
  • 1913-6-6                                                                                               Edison BA 2192

Back Home on the Farm

  • 1919-4, 78416                                                                                      Columbia A-2859
  • 1919-10-8, 6967-C                                                                               Edison BA 3912, DD 51082-L
  • 1919-11, S7099-B                                                                                Okeh 4201

Bear’s Oil

  • 1909-8                                                                                                  Edison 4M 178, BA 1948
  • 1909                                                                                                     Indestructible 1111
  • 1910-6-23, B-9126-1-2                                                                        Victor unissued

The Bell Boys aka Bell Boys; Two Bell Boys; The Bell Hops

  • 1919-10-7, 6962                                                                                  Edison BA 3942, DD 50866-L
  • 1919-10, 78731-2                                                                                Columbia A-2974
  • 1919-11, S7100-B                                                                               Okeh 4201
  • 1919, 7096                                                                                          Starr-Gennett 9006

Clamy Green, aka Clammy Green

  • 1913-2-11, C-12903-3                                                                        Victor 35294, Gramophone 04104
  • 1913-5-27                                                                                           Edison BA 1837
  • 1913-10, 36849-5                                                                               Columbia A-5614

The Colored Doctors

1910-8-18, B-9357-1                                                                          Victor 16698

Comic Epitaphs, aka Epitaphs, or Two Darkies in a Cemetery, Epitaphs

  • 1910-5-24, B-8985-3                                                                          Victor 16547
  • 1910-11                                                                                              Edison 4M 546, BA 2006
  • 1911                                                                                                   U.S. Everlasting 1138

A Coon’s Attempt at Suicide, aka Coon’s Attempted Suicide

1917, 833                                                                                           Rex 5290

Darktown Eccentricities

1912-11                                                                                              Edison BA 1571

The Darktown Editors

1912-12-6, B-12679-2                                                                        Victor 17300

Darktown Poets, aka Two Darktown Poets; The Two Poets

  • 1909                                                                                                   Lakeside Indestructible 1352*
  • 1911                                                                                                   U.S. Everlasting 1352
  • 1911-4                                                                                                Edison 4M 663, BA 2101
  • 1911-9-7, B-10936-1-2-3                                                                   Victor unissued
  • 1911-9, 19565                                                                                    Columbia A-1085
  • 1911-11-7, B-10936-5                                                                        Victor 17020

*The Lakeside and U.S. Everlasting issues are probably the same, however my source gives a 1909 date for the Lakeside. As all other issues of this selection date to 1911 it seems sensible that the “1909” date is merely in error, but I have been unable to confirm it.

Darky School Days, aka Darkie’s School Days

  • 1909                                                                                                    Edison 4M 171, BA 1712
  • 1910-3, 30406                                                                                     Columbia A-5251
  • 1910-6-21, B-9099-2                                                                           Victor 16557
  • 1910-8-18, B-9099-4                                                                           Victor 16557

Doctor’s Testimonials

1911-2                                                                                                 Edison 4M 609, BA 1880

Down in Turkey Hollow

1910-7-23, B-9127-2                                                                           Victor 16540

Fishing and Drinking

1919-4, 78412                                                                                     Columbia A-2859

Going Back to Arkansas, aka Gwine Back to Arkansas, I’se Gwine Back to Arkansas

  • 1914-1-19                                                                                            Edison BA 2308
  • 1914-2, 36982                                                                                     Columbia A-5578
  • 1914-5-29, B-14913-1                                                                         Victor 17612

The Hotel Porter and the Traveling Salesman

1913-5-27                                                                                            Edison BA 2074

Jimmy Trigger, aka Jimmie Trigger, or The Military Hero, Jimmy Trigger Boy Hero

  • 1912-1-17, C-11464-2                                                                         Victor 35307
  • 1912-5, 19892                                                                                     Columbia A-1193
  • 1912                                                                                                     Edison BA 1024
  • 1912                                                                                                     U.S. Everlasting 1538

Jimmy Trigger’s Return from Mexico, aka Jimmy Trigger Returns from the War

  • 1914-5-28                                                                                            Edison BA 2429
  • 1914-5-29, C-14915-1                                                                         Victor 35518, Gramophone 09304

Jinin’ the Church, aka Joining the Church

  • 1909                                                                                                     U.S. Everlasting 1136
  • 1910-6-21, B-9121-1-4                                                                         Victor 16653

The Liars, or My Uncle’s Farm, aka My Uncle’s Farm

  • 1908-11-28, B-6622-2                                                                         Victor 5664, 16547
  • 1908-12-2                                                                                            Edison 4M 111, BA 1511
  • 1910-3, 30405                                                                                     Columbia A-5173
  • 1911                                                                                                    U.S. Everlasting 1137
  • 1919                                                                                                    Gennett 4534

The Life Insurance Policy

1920-5-28, 7374-A                                                                              Edison BA 4192, DD 50896-L

Matrimonial Troubles, aka Matrimony Difficulties, Matrimonial Mixup

  • 1912-1-17, 11463-3                                                                            Victor 17047
  • 1912                                                                                                    U.S. Everlasting 1541
  • 1919-10, 78729-6                                                                               Columbia A-2974
  • 1919-11-26, 7035-A                                                                            Edison BA 3957, DD 50644-R
  • 1920                                                                                                    Arto 9043, Bell 043

The Rival Salesmen

1913-2-11, C-12902-1-2                                                                     Victor unissued

School Days in Truckmuck

1909                                                                                                    U.S. Indestructible 1187

The Servant Girls

1914-5-29, B-14914-2                                                                        Victor 17612

The Shipmates, aka Shipmates

  • 1908-11-28, B-6615-5                                                                        Victor 16141
  • 1908, 30183                                                                                       Columbia 30183, A-5080
  • 1909-2                                                                                                Edison 4M 72, BA 2045
  • 1919, 6950                                                                                         Starr-Gennett 9006

That Minstrel Man

  • 1911-11-7, B-11196-1-2-3                                                                 Victor unissued
  • 1911-11-7, C-11196-1                                                                       Victor unissued

Turkey Specialty, aka Turkey in the Straw

  • 1909-10                                                                                             Edison 4M 219, BA 1769
  • 1910-5-24, B-8986-2-3                                                                      Victor 16681

The Two Doctors

1919                                                                                                   Gennett 4534

The Two Happy Darky Boys

1909-1910                                                                                          Edison 4M 403

Unlucky Mose

  • 1912-12-6, C-12678-1                                                                        Victor 35280, Gramophone 04101
  • 1913-10, 36848                                                                                  Columbia A-5578
  • 1912-12-3                                                                                           Edison BA 1644

Whistling Pete

  • 1911-9-7, C-10933-1                                                                          Victor 35202
  • 1911-12                                                                                              Edison 4M 842, BA 2382
  • 1911                                                                                                    U.S. Everlasting 1351
  • 1912-8, 38214                                                                                     Columbia A-1291*

*This item remained in print a long time, into the early 1920s. The Columbia Master Book does not differentiate remakes of records in most cases, and it is possible that some very high takes of this disc may have originated from a remake session held about 1920 or so. That should not be regarded as absolute, but remains a possibility.

Who Stole the Chickens?

1920-2-22, 7364-A                                                                              Edison BA 4529, DD 50901-R

Working on the Farm

  • 1911-6, 30850                                                                                    Columbia A-5346
  • 1911-9-7, C-10935-2                                                                          Victor 35260, Gramophone 09258
  • 1912-4                                                                                                Edison 4M 958, BA 1907

Section C: Billy Golden & James Marlowe

Bye Bye Ma Honey (as “By By Ma Honey”)

1917, E65375-2                                                                                 Pathé 29136, 30386

The Coon Mariners

  • 1916                                                                                                  Crescent
  • 1917                                                                                                  Pathé 20186

The Curio Seekers, aka The Curiosity Hunters; Curiosity Hunt; The Relic Hunters

  • 1915-7-10, 3952-C                                                                            Edison BA 2723*, DD 50280-R
  • 1915-10, 37418                                                                                 Columbia A-5752
  • 1915-10-14, C-16666-3                                                                     Victor 35518
  • 1917                                                                                                  Pathé 29126, 30369

*Although listed, BA 2723 was not released.

The Coon Waiters, aka The Darky Waiters

  • 1916-12-23, 5232-C                                                                         Edison BA 3158, DD 50532-L
  • 1916-12-28, C-18938-3                                                                    Victor 35614

A Darkey’s Oration on Women, aka Darky Oration on Women; The Darkies Oration on “Woman”

  • 1916-12-20, 5226-C                                                                         Edison BA 3255, DD 50654-L
  • 1916-12-28, C-18939-2                                                                    Victor 35614
  • 1916-12, 47264                                                                                Columbia A-2235
  • 1917, 311                                                                                         Par-O-Ket 78

A Good Friend in Rufus

1917, T65409                                                                                   Pathé 29191

Henry Attempts Suicide, aka A Coon’s Attempt at Suicide; Coon’s Attempted Suicide

  • 1915-10-20, C-16682-1                                                                    Victor 35504
  • 1915-11, 37454                                                                                Columbia A-5752
  • 1917                                                                                                 Pathé 29126, 30369

Henry Gibson’s Narrow Escape

1916-10-13, 4190-C                                                                         Edison BA 2804, DD 50321-R

The Hospital Patients, aka Hospital Patients

  • 1916-7-12, 4870-C                                                                           Edison BA 2981, DD 50376-R
  • 1916-7-17, C-18124-2                                                                      Victor 35577
  • 1916-7, 46937                                                                                  Columbia A-2235*

*It is unclear if this master was actually issued.

The Insect Powder Agent, aka Insect Powder Man

  • 1914-12-9                                                                                           Victor test, unissued
  • 1915-7-7, 3944                                                                                   Edison BA 2598, DD 50236-R*
  • 1915-10-20, C-16683-2                                                                      Victor 35504
  • 1915                                                                                                    Edison BA 2598
  • 1916                                                                                                    Rex 5286, Crescent
  • 1917, 308                                                                                            Par-O-Ket 62
  • 1917, E65347-2E                                                                                Pathé 29125, 30368

*According to Allen Sutton, a third version of BA 2598 not by Golden and Marlowe is rumored extant; no word on whom it might be performing in their stead.

Jimmy Trigger – A Descriptive Episode

1917                                                                                                    Rex 5375

The Liars

1917, 311                                                                                             Par-O-Ket 78

The Liars’ Contest, aka Darkey Fabrications; Laughing Fabricators

  • 1916-7-17, C-18125-1                                                                         Victor 35577
  • 1917, 2425-3                                                                                       Emerson 7202
  • 1917, E65346-2C                                                                                Pathé 29125, 30368

A Love-Sick Coon, aka A Love-Sick Darky

  • 1916-3-18, C-17273-3                                                                        Victor 35544
  • 1916-3-23, 4606-C                                                                             Edison BA 2943, DD 50374-R

Managing Matrimony, aka Matrimony

1917                                                                                                    Pathé 29137, 30387

Matrimonial Difficulties, aka Marriage Difficulties  

  • 1916-1, 46381                                                                                     Columbia A-1971
  • 1916-3-18, C-17272-3                                                                         Victor 35544
  • 1917, 309                                                                                            Par-O-Ket 62

Rabbit Hash

1917, T65373                                                                                      Pathé 29191

Roll On de Ground

1917                                                                                                     Pathé 29137, 30387

Sick Coon

1917                                                                                                     Pathé 20186

Turkey in the Straw

1917                                                                                                     Pathé 29128

Two New Coons in Town

1917, E65374-1                                                                                   Pathé 29136, 30386

Unlucky Mose

1917                                                                                                    Pathé 29128

Section D: Billy Golden & Billy Heins

Ambrose and Steve in Court

1918-7-31, 50871-R                                                                           Edison BA 3619, DD 6315-C

Aunt Phoebe’s Wedding Day                                                    

1921-5-27, 50820-L                                                                           Edison BA 4421, DD 8031-C

Bill’s Visit to St. Peter

1917-6-29, 50587-lL                                                                          Edison BA 3317, DD 5651-C

The Colored Recruits, aka The Colored Recruit

  • 1918-5-2, 5995-C                                                                              Edison BA 3546, DD 50478-R
  • 1918-5-22, B-21929-1,2,3                                                                 Victor unissued
  • 1918                                                                                                  Okeh 1024

A Coon ‘Possum Hunt

1918-12-13, 6505-C                                                                          Edison BA 3712, DD 50520-L

A Coon’s Dream of Heaven

1917, 2627-1                                                                                     Emerson 7233

The Darktown Editors

1918-6-24, B-21999-2                                                                       Victor 17300

The Death of Towser, aka Towser is Dead; Bill’s Dog Towser

  • 1917-5-24, C-19890-1                                                                       Victor 35641
  • 1917-6-28, 5650                                                                                Edison BA 3329, DD 50463-L
  • 1917                                                                                                  Columbia A-2461
  • 1917                                                                                                  Imperial 5500

Good and Bad

  • 1918-5-22, B-21930-1,2,3                                                                Victor unissued
  • 1918-5-26, 6081-C                                                                           Edison BA 3559, DD 50605-R
  • 1918-6-24, B-21930-4,5,6                                                                Victor unissued
  • 1919-2                                                                                              Okeh 1164

Henry’s Attemp’ at Suicide

1921-5, 5122                                                                                   Brunswick 2117

I’m a Nigger That’s Living High 

1902-12, 1109-D                                                                             Columbia 1109

In a Bird Store

  • 1917-9-7, C-20646-3                                                                      Victor 35639
  • 1917-9, 77363                                                                                Columbia A-2461

Jimmie Trigger

1917, 2626-1                                                                                  Emerson 7233

The Liars, or My Uncle’s Farm

1918-12-16, B-22472-1,2,3,4                                                         Victor unissued

New Colored Recruit

1918-1, 77655                                                                                 Columbia A-2551

A Scheme to Enter Heaven

  • 1918-6                                                                                             Okeh 1066
  • 1918                                                                                                Imperial 5478

She’s Mine, Mine, Mine, aka Mine, Mine, Mine

  • 1918                                                                                                Imperial 5527
  • 1919-2                                                                                             Okeh 1164

Sniping ’Possum

1918-12-6, B-22451-1,2,3                                                               Victor unissued

Stingy Coon

1918-12-16, B-22471-1,2,3                                                             Victor unissued

A Trip to Paradise

1917-5-24, C-19889-2                                                                     Victor 35681

Up for Sentence

  • 1917-9-7, C-20647-2                                                                        Victor 35659
  • 1917-9, 77361                                                                                  Columbia A-2551

Would-be Recruits

1918-12-6, B-22450-1,2,3,4                                                             Victor unissued

Section E: Billy Golden in the Spencer Trio

Spencer Trio: Len Spencer, Billy Golden, George Graham

Jokes Between Interlocutor and End Men

  • 1903, 1109E                                                                                     Columbia cyl 32045E*
  • 1903, 1109G                                                                                     Columbia cyl 32045G*

*credited as “An Evening with the Minstrels”

Spencer Trio: Len Spencer, Billy Golden, Steve Porter

Alpine Specialty

  • 1903-6-2, PM A-1947-1                                                                    Victor 1947
  • 1903-6-2, PM B-1947-M1                                                                 Victor 1947
  • 1904-9-26, A-1706-1-2                                                                    Victor unissued
  • 1904-9-27, A-1706-3-4                                                                    Victor unissued
  • 1904-9-27, B-1706-5                                                                        Victor 1947

Amateur Night on the Bowery

1904-9-27, B-1711-2                                                                        Victor 4093

In Front of the Old Cabin Door

  • 1903-6-2, PM A-1948-1                                                                    Victor 1948
  • 1903-6-2, PM A-1948-1                                                                    Victor 1948
  • 1904-9-26, A-1707-1-2                                                                    Victor unissued
  • 1904-9-27, B-1707-4                                                                       Victor 1948

The Mocking Bird Medley

  • 1903-6-2, PM A-1946-1                                                                   Victor 1946
  • 1903-6-2, PM B-1946-M1                                                                Victor 1946
  • 1904-9-26, A-1705                                                                          Victor unissued
  • 1904-9-26, B-1705-1-4                                                                    Victor 1946

Spencer Trio: Len Spencer, Billy Golden, Billy Williams

Alpine Specialty

1906                                                                                                Columbia cyl 7708

The Mocking Bird Medley

1906                                                                                              Columbia cyl 7705

9-28-2015: I have changed the date on these items to 1906, as in order for comic Billy Williams to be involved these couldn’t be earlier than that. However, these two pieces were originally recorded by Columbia, under these numbers, in the latter half of the 1890s and these would be later remakes. This casts some doubt as to whether Golden was involved in the Spencer Trio that recorded the originals, though it is certainly possible.

Section F: Billy Golden Miscellany

George Graham & Billy Golden: Negro Oddity

1897-3-22                                                                                          Berliner 732

George Graham & Billy Golden: Virginia Camp Meeting

1897-3-18                                                                                          Berliner 670

Billy Golden & Unknown: Hospital Patients

1919-7, 78604-R                                                                                Columbia A-2235

This is a remake of a Golden and Marlowe disc, and is credited as such on A-2235. But Marlowe had died in 1917, so this 1919 date could not have involved him. In all likelihood the second in this case would have been Joe Hughes, but it is not confirmed, nor is it known for sure if the earlier disc with Marlowe was issued under this number.

Billy Golden and the Empire Vaudeville Company: A Scene on the Levee

1921-12-16, 7687-B                                                                           Edison BA 4271, DD 50765-R

Billy Golden and the Empire Vaudeville Company: A Scene on the Old Plantation

1921-2-17, 7804-C                                                                             Edison BA 4304, DD 50747-L

According to the Edison cash books, the Empire Vaudeville Company consisted of Golden, Al Bernard, Charles Hart, Steve Porter, Harry Donaghy, Edward Meeker and “Bryan.”

Brilliant Quartette
Billy Golden, alleged – other members unknown

The Brilliant Quartette recorded for Columbia cylinders and Berliner discs from 1891-99. Only one source places Golden in this group. Three recordings of the Brilliant are on the web, and the Columbia cylinder of “Blind Tom” is the best candidate of the three for a possible appearance by Golden. The Columbia of “Way Down Yonder” might include him, but he is definitely not present on “Mary-Ann Medley.” I have decided to add this listing in case he is present on one of these discs, though I suspect that the membership of the group was somewhat fluid and Golden may not be present in every instance. The issue numbers on the Columbia cylinders listed below are not now known.

Blind Tom
1894 Columbia cyl
1896-7-2 Berliner 851-Y
1898-12-30 Berliner 851-V
1899-10-24 Berliner 0647

Grandfather’s Birthday
1896-6-10 Berliner 853-Z
1898-12-30 Berliner 853-W
1899-10-24 Berliner 0654

Hear Dem Bells
1896-6-12 Berliner 858

Imitation of Steam Calliope
1899-10-24 Berliner 0653

I’se Gwine Back to Dixie
1896-6-11 Berliner 856
1899-10-24 Berliner 0658

Mary Ann
1896-6-11 Berliner 857

Mary-Ann Medley
1893 Columbia cyl

Nearer My God to Thee
1896-7-2 Berliner 863

Remember Poor Mother at Home
1896-6-12 Berliner 859

Silver Moon
1899-10-24 Berliner 0657

Way Down Yonder in the Cornfield, aka Down Yonder in the Cornfield
1891 Columbia cyl
1898-3 Berliner 869-YY
1898-3 Berliner 869-XX
1897-10 to 1899-3 Berliner 869-ZZ

POSTSCRIPT: I have decided to dispense with the customary audio sample placed at the end of the article in this case, as ample numbers of Billy Golden records already appear on the web. Here is a short list of places where you can hear Billy Golden, whose entire recorded output is in the public domain. These sites alone will likely yield more Billy Golden than a reasonably sane person can stand to listen to. Personally, I find Golden’s duets with Joe Hughes to be generally among his best subjects, more so even than his solo records. “Bear’s Oil” seems to encapsulate what is best, and also some of what is worst, about Billy Golden.

The Encylopedic Discography of Victor Recordings or EDVR: Golden made many records for Victor, though later on Victor exercised more discrimination about what they were willing to release from him. The EDVR is based out of the University of California, Santa Barbara and is supported by audio files provided by the Library of Congress. These same files can be found on LoC’s site as well, but in order to access them by artist I find the EDVR interface to be a bit friendlier. http://victor.library.ucsb.edu/

The UCSB Cylinder Digital Preservation Project: This is another project of the University of California, Santa Barbara devoted to cylinders, and one may find several of Golden’s Edison recordings here, plus a few Columbias and Indestructibles. http://cylinders.library.ucsb.edu/

The Internet Archive: Many to most of the Billy Golden files on the Internet Archive are unceremoniously harvested, without credit, from the UCSB sites. The phrase “grinding noises removed” are a dead giveaway to the culprit of this dubious enterprise, and files from this poster should be avoided, and their sources sought out elsewhere. Nevertheless, one must not discount the possibility that at least some Billy Golden selections on the Internet Archive may be unique. https://archive.org/

YouTube: There is not the embarrassment of Billy Golden riches that one might expect on YouTube, and there are relatively few examples of his work up there at present.  This includes the spectacle of a contributor playing an ultra-rare, important and already badly worn Berliner disc on a vintage phonograph, the worst thing one could do with it short of breaking the thing in half. Nevertheless, Billy Golden has a YouTube presence and should be sought there if you just can’t get enough of him under separate cover. http://www.youtube.com/ — UD

The Mystery of Harpsichord Tommy

HarpTomCornball Bailey Trio
Gateway and Big 4 Hits were labels run out of Cincinnati by Carl Burkhardt of Queen City Records — later Rite — from 1952 to 1958. Low-cost alternatives to major label hit singles, these labels were apparently the first of their kind, preceding Enoch Light’s Waldorf Music Hall label by a year or two. Among the first Gateways I collected when I was about nine or ten was “The Crazy Otto Medley,” credited to Piano Roll Thompson, a remake of Johnny Maddox’ hit on Dot which was itself a remake of a hit record from Germany by Franz-Schulz Reichel. The Cincinnati “Crazy Otto” was especially notable for its echt-obnoxious laughter, and I regrettably no longer have that copy. But as this was a Gateway that sold pretty well I hope to see it again someday.

In 1988 I found — as part of a cache of 78s bought from a Salvation Army Thrift Store on Pike St. in Covington — an odd Ci-Sum (“spell it backwards”) disc bearing a version of 12th Street Rag credited to Harpsichord Tommy. It was a very eccentric performance, kind of all over the place, with short bars and other features that made it distinctive and exciting. While I loved it, I wasn’t especially curious about it, and now I wish I had been, because in 1988 there were still people around that could have told me who Harpsichord Tommy was. I also failed to connect Harpsichord Tommy with Piano Roll Thompson, though I can forgive myself for that; by that time, I hadn’t heard the Gateway “Crazy Otto” in years, and I didn’t know of any relationship between Ci-Sum and the Burkhardt labels. Ci-sum was based out of the Wurlitzer Building in Cincinnati and had their records pressed by Queen City Records.

I was still missing some key pieces of the puzzle in 1988. These would emerge towards the end of 2011 in a thrift store in Lebanon, Ohio, though it would take me more than a year to actually sit down and listen to the discs. Invited to deliver a short talk on the Burkhardt labels at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, I decided to go through all of the Big 4s and Gateways I had. Among these were Big 4 Hits 106, as listed below, and Gateways 152-154. Despite the variance in names — “Piano Willie,” “Piano Roll Thompson” and “Cornball Bailey” — these are all of the same player; moreover, it is also the same player as “Harpsichord Tommy” on the Ci-Sum. The discography below — which may be incomplete, though it is no so for what appeared on the Burkhardt labels — seems like a lot, but in most cases these discs had two selections per side, lasting right around two minutes. In effect this is equivalent to 16 78 rpm sides, albeit including many long ones.

Matrices shown only refer to the plate from which the 78 side was pressed; I have added the “-1” and “-2” numbers. These are not take numbers but simply refer to the position of the first or second track on a side of a 4-track EP. Burkhardt did not record direct-to-disc but, starting in 1952, directly to tape, which he then edited into the Big 4 sides. So “matrices” on discs do not necessarily reflect recording order or session order, just production order.

Harpsichord Tommy Cincinnati, 1954

12th Street Rag Ci-Sum unnumbered

Piano Willie Cincinnati, 1954

8532-1 Sheik of Araby Big 4 Hits 104-A
8532-2 In My Adobe Hacienda Big 4 Hits 104-A
8533-1 Bombastic Boogie Big 4 Hits 104-B
8533-2 Charmaine Big 4 Hits 104-B
8534-1 Frankie and Johnnie Big 4 Hits 105-A
8534-2 Three Little Indians Big 4 Hits 105-A
8535-1 Show Me the Way to Go Home Big 4 Hits 105-B
8535-2 Piano Roll Blues Big 4 Hits 105-B
8536-1 La Paloma Big 4 Hits 106-A
8536-2 Coquette Big 4 Hits 106-A
8537-1 Love Letters in the Sand Big 4 Hits 106-B
8537-2 Way Down Yonder in New Orleans Big 4 Hits 106-B
8538-1 Chicago Big 4 Hits 107-A
8538-2 Ukelele Baby Big 4 Hits 107-A
8539-1 Marcheta Big 4 Hits 107-B
8539-2 Sweetheart (from Maytime) Big 4 Hits 107-B

Piano Roll Thompson Cincinnati, 1955

8615 The Crazy Otto Medley Gateway 1111-B

8726-1 Pagan Love Song Big 4 Hits 152-A, Gateway EP 152-A
8726-2 Riding High Big 4 Hits 152-A, Gateway EP 152-A
8727-1 12th Street Rag Big 4 Hits 152-B, Gateway EP 152-B
8727-2 Homesick Blues Big 4 Hits 152-B, Gateway EP 152-B

Cornball Bailey Trio Cincinnati, 1955

8728-1 Jersey Bounce Big 4 Hits 153-A, Gateway EP 153-A
8728-2 Tuxedo Junction Big 4 Hits 153-A, Gateway EP 153-A
8729-1 Honky Tonk Boogie Big 4 Hits 153-B, Gateway EP 153-B
8729-2 Drigo Serenade Big 4 Hits 153-B, Gateway EP 153-B
8730-1 Blue Danube Big 4 Hits 154-A, Gateway EP 154-A
8730-2 Sorrento Big 4 Hits 154-A, Gateway EP 154-A
8731-1 Villia Big 4 Hits 154-B, Gateway EP 154-B
8731-2 Jeannie With the Light Brown Hair Big 4 Hits 154-B, Gateway EP 154-B

8732-8737 are credited to the Elbert Wiggins Trio, and while Wiggins is a pianist, he plays in a Western Swing oriented style reminiscent of Moon Mullican, and is not the same artist as those shown above.

These discs were designed to ride upon the coattails of the honky tonk piano craze of the 1950s, spearheaded by pianists like Maddox and Lou Busch, who recorded as “Joe ‘Fingers’ Carr.” No doubt the false names reflect the influence of “Carr,” and this marketing model was seen elsewhere in recordings by “Knuckles O’Toole” (Dick Hyman) or “Eddie ‘Piano’ Miller” (Ed Lisbona). Despite its cachet as a quaint antique, some aspects of the Honky Tonk piano craze did contribute to the emergence of rock n’ roll and it definitely helped to spur on a resurgence of interest in the tradition of ragtime that would explode, in a far more respectable sense, in the early 1970s. Nothing that Harpsichord Tommy did reflects the ragtime roots of honky tonk; indeed, in some selections he employs a right-hand, “shake” figure imitative of a player piano that becomes something of a burden through overuse. However, his left-hand figures are fascinating; although Harpsichord Tommy is grounded in barrelhouse and reflects the popular style of boogie woogie as practiced in the 1940s, his left hand is seldom repetitive and seems on a constant search for new ground to dig up, though it is intuitive also, much like Turner Parrish on his Gennett recordings of the early 1930s. When I played these discs at the Public Library, one response was that he sounds a little reminiscent of Conlon Nancarrow, only as heard done by a live player rather than a player piano. As Nancarrow was based in Cincinnati from 1929 to 1932 and a student at the Cincinnati Conservatory, it is tempting to consider the possibility that Harpsichord Tommy was someone who had contact with Nancarrow; certainly they share a preference for short bars and impatient development strategies. I should clarify that at this point there is no evidence to support such an idea. It is hard to even speculate as to the age of Harpsichord Tommy; while his power and desire to cut to the chase suggests the impetousness of youth, the automatic, ‘just playing — not thinking’ approach likewise suggests experience, as do some of the selections, drawn from by then rather arcane light classical pops of the 1920s.

However, perhaps the most intriguing mystery about Harpsichord Tommy is his choice of instrument; no one I have shared these tracks with can seem to figure out what it is. Although he does play a standard upright on tracks like “Honky Tonk Boogie” most often he employs an instrument, possibly electronic, that sounds like a cross between a harpsichord and an upright. It does not appear to have had a full 88 keys and has a distorted quality reminiscent of tube amplification. Wurlitzer introduced its Model 100 electric piano the very year that Harpsichord Tommy began recording, but that is a mellower kind of bell-like sound; it is the instrument that Ray Charles employs on his 1959 recording of “What’d I Say.” Baldwin built a space-age instrument, the Electric Combo Harpsichord, that was much loved of the Beach Boys and Beatles; it had a plexiglas lid and looked like something out of The Jetsons. But it did not roll out until 1965. Perhaps Harpsichord Tommy had access to a prototype of the Baldwin instrument, or played an actual harpsichord and the tubes we are hearing simply results from the excessively “hot” way that Burkhardt recorded things. Harpsichords were in short supply in 1954; there were museum instruments, not all of which were playable and they were seldom seen outside of the museum. You could have one built, but it would cost a pretty penny; it is not like now where you have builders who specialize in making modern copies of harpsichords, though the French company of Pleyel et Cie. were manufacturing them — with heavy metal frames, like a piano — beginning in the 1930s. These were very quiet instruments that recorded loudly; witness Wanda Landowska’s famous 1954 recording of the Bach Goldberg Variations where the harpsichord fairly jumps out of your speakers. But I heard one of these metal frame instruments, in person, at a concert at the Taft Museum in about 1970, and I recall straining to hear it even though it was only about ten feet from me. In any event, Harpsichord Tommy’s instrument doesn’t sound like an old, metal frame harpsichord, and it is still a mystery.

Nevertheless, it is a mystery that I’m looking into, and I’ll get back to you on that if there are any developments. In the meantime, please enjoy the samples provided below of this strange and fascinating Cincinnati artist. Uncle Dave Lewis

Piano Roll Thompson — Riding High
https://www.box.com/s/n2b2q6d61lcych7vryqc

Piano Willie — La Paloma
https://www.box.com/s/p8rfytq30rvnvhef67cq

Cornball Bailey Trio — Honky Tonk Boogie
https://www.box.com/s/wk7n5jtz1kya8b0c06pv

Graveyard Blues: Finding Earl Fuller

I visited Earl Fuller’s grave today. I have been living in Lebanon, Ohio for two and a half years and Fuller’s grave is located about 10 miles from where I sit. Yesterday I did a major update to his Wikipedia page, and I may be moving shortly, so it seemed like the right time to make it out to Morrow to view his headstone.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earl_Fuller

Even though Morrow is not far from here, it’s about the easiest thing in the world to get lost getting there, and even though I’ve been there before, I did. I finally got on the right, winding road, knowing that I was getting near when I started seeing signs for the Little Miami canoes. That’s about the only reason anyone goes to Morrow; to rent a canoe to go down the Little Miami. It’s a small, sleepy town; 25 per cent of the population is under the age of 25, and you do see them — kids play in the street there, so you have to watch out for them. It is very remote and isolated.

The Morrow Cemetary is open dawn till dusk, but there’s no one there to speak to me when I go up the steep road past the gate. It was founded before 1865 but then bought by the I.O.O.F. and later deeded to the Township. There is an old stone I.O.O.F. structure built into the hillside that is very interesting, but I am none too curious as to what may be in there. I rolled up with James Reese Europe’s “Too Much Mustard” blaring on the CD player, thinking “Maybe Earl will realize there is a friend arriving, and not foe.”

I parked off to the side where there were no graves and walked up a path to a newer, garage looking building, but no one was inside. It was connected to an old shack, which I suspect must’ve been the caretaker’s cabin, but it was locked off with a hasp that had gone to rust. No attendant, and I’d hoped to ask where “section C” was as that was where Earl was buried. I knew that the main Fuller family plot was in “section A.” And you could hardly miss it, as the E.F. Fuller family plot is marked by a gigantic headstone, the largest in the lot. These may have been Earl Fuller’s grandparents; off to one end was Sophie E. Fuller (1860-1945), who may have been his mother. Or not, as there are two empty plots next to her — where is her husband?

I was looking out at all of the stones on the landscape and thinking “It will take forever for me to look at all of these stones to find Earl.” I took about four steps and I realized I was standing right in front of it.

 

Earl Fuller's Grave
Earl Fuller’s Grave

 

To the left of it was a flat stone with nothing written on it; perhaps that’s the resting place of Earl’s wife, and I didn’t lift the stone to see if there was anything on it. However, Earl’s stone held a surprise for me; his death certificate estimated his age at 50 in 1947, but the stone places his birth as “1885” which makes a lot more sense in terms of his career trajectory. He was born the same year as King Oliver.

I got back in the car and carefully made my way out of the cemetary. I passed Municipal Hall in Morrow, a strange building which looks like a cross between a little palace and an old garage. I thought of stopping to ask about how to contact the keeper of the cemetary, but it was obvious that there was no one inside. I continued up the hill and out of town, passing its only mall which contains a Subway, a Family Dollar and a lot of empty storefronts. I was surprised to find that my doctor, whom I will see tomorrow, has an office in Morrow.

The search for Earl continues. Perhaps the only appropriate tune to go with this post is his 1918 recording of “Graveyard Blues.” His final resting place is certainly a very lonely, unjazzy place for such an important jazz pioneer. — Uncle Dave Lewis

https://www.box.com/s/1khoet1clg0kq2kbm7l4