Stripper in the Board Room: Winnie (“The Flaming Redhead”) Garrett and the Famous Record Company

Stripper in the Board Room: Winnie (“The Flaming Redhead”) Garrett and the Famous Record Company
By Allan Sutton

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Winnie Garrett, a.k.a. “The Flaming Redhead,” served as vice-president and promotions manager of Famous Records, Inc., beginning in 1947.

 

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To all appearances, the Famous Record Company was a rather dodgy operation. Its first label was copied from Brunswick’s 1920 design (although there was no connection to that company), suggesting a much earlier operation than was actually the case. Even the company name was copied; it had been used several years earlier by an unrelated New York venture that marketed cheap picture discs containing sound track excerpts by Hollywood stars before disappearing. Famous received little coverage in the trade papers, and early labels gave its location only as “U.S.A.” (its mailing address was  Room 303 of the RKO Theater Building at 6 Market Street, in Newark, New Jersey).

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The original Famous label was copied from Brunswick’s long-abandoned 1920 design, although there was no connection to that company. It was later redesigned.

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To date, no reliable contemporary account of the Famous Record Company’s launch has been found, but its initial releases on the Famous label — four sides by Phil Napoleon’s Orchestra, accompanying singers Ross Leonard and Roma Lynn — were reviewed in late November 1944. Billboard critic M. H. Orodenker rendered a mixed verdict:

“Still another disk label enters the fold, this one springing from Newark, N. J. For its bow, [it] brings back Phil Napoleon for the music making… Napoleon provides a highly attractive setting for the romantic baritoning of Ross Leonard. Warbler goes all out in dramatic style for “I Dream of You,” dragging it out no end and negating much of the disk appeal of one of the better ballads of the moment. However, Leonard listens to better advantage when keeping within rhythmic confines for two new ballads… Remaining side, an innocuous rhythm ditty in ‘Rhythm Has Got You Too,” provides the hot hymnaling of Roma Lynn. However, none in the company can distinguish themselves with the song.”

Famous’ artist roster, drawn largely from New York and New Jersey nightclubs, was soon expanded to include Jerry Delmar’s Orchestra, Margie Hudson, Jim Messner, and Tommy Ryan. But the Famous Record Company did virtually no advertising, and little more was heard of the venture until early 1947, when it resurfaced in Billboard‘s manufacturers’ directory as Famous Records, Inc.

Operating at the same Newark address, the reorganized company launched a new series of Famous records late that autumn.  Several new distributors were secured, and the company began advertising on a modest scale, primarily to jukebox operators. It was not an opportune time to re-enter the record business, with the second American Federation of Musicians’ recording ban looming. The trade papers were filled with accounts of record companies stockpiling masters in advance of the ban, but Famous was not among them.

The initial release in Famous’ new FA-600 series (“The Stars Were Mine” / “Are You Havin’ Any Fun,” by Freddy Miller’s Orchestra) earned faint praise from a Cash Box reviewer in November 1947 as a “pair of sides that [jukebox] ops may use to fair advantage.”

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The redesigned Famous label and a November 1947 ad for the new FA-600 series, launched around the time of Winnie Garrett’s buy-in. Freddy Miller and Janet Parker were among the Famous artists that Garrett took to Connecticut, for an appearance on behalf of the Damon Runyon Memorial Cancer Fund, in March 1948.

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One of the reorganized company’s investors was Winnie Garrett, a twenty-five year-old burlesque strip-tease star billed as “The Flaming Redhead.” News reports suggest that she had invested around November 1947, corresponding with the label’s relaunch. Garrett was given with the title of vice-president and promotions manager. Billboard reported that Garrett made so little money from the company, she could not afford to retire from the stage. Instead, she maintained two careers, representing Famous Records by day while continuing to strip at night.

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Initially, Garrett’s main duty was to secure plugs for Famous records from local disc jockeys, but by 1948 she was taking a more active role in the operation. In March of that year, she and several Famous artists traveled to Bridgeport, Connecticut, for an appearance on behalf of the Damon Runyon Memorial Cancer Fund. In June, she sued 20th Century Fox for $150,000 over its portrayal of a fictitious Famous Records company (which goes bankrupt) in the film, “You Were Meant for Me,” alleging damage to her company’s financial reputation. By then, newspapers were referring to Garrett as the “head” of Famous Records. However, new releases stalled as the AFM ban dragged on.

Garrett appears to have undertaken an image makeover at that time, offering a toned-down version of her act with mixed results. In November 1948, she was arrested at New York’s Club Ha-Ha for presenting a “lewd and indecent performance.” The incident was widely covered by the local papers:

“[Garrett] told reporters the performance that led to her arrest early today was an ‘interpretive dance.’ At first she wasn’t sure just what it interpreted, but finally decided it has ‘a little African in it’… She explains that she begins the dance wearing an evening dress, gloves, three brassieres, an under-skirt, and peace-net panties. She ends, she said, with one brassiere and g-string panties.”

The charges were dropped after the arresting officer admitted that Garrett had not been totally nude, as he had originally thought. After noting that the same performance had failed to raise any objections in staid Boston, Garrett promised to clean up her act and invited the officer to visit the Club Ha-Ha every night to make sure her dance was “more conservative.” We don’t know if he took her up on the offer.

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In May 1950, Garrett sued photographer Murray Korman for mental anguish and distress after he placed photographs of her on penny peep-machines. By then, Famous Records appears to have been inactive for some time, having failed to garner much attention for anything other than Garrett’s presence. She continued to perform into the mid-1950s.

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Selected References

“Charges Against Strip-Tease Dancer Dismissed in Court.” St. Cloud [MN] Times (Nov 25, 1948), p. 10.

“Film Company Sued.” Bridgewater (NJ) Courier-News (May 19, 1948), p. 9.

Orondenker, M. H. “Popular Record Reviews.” Billboard (Dec 9, 1944), p. 21.

“Sales Talk Louder Than Words” (ad). Cash Box (Nov 15, 1947), p. 18.

“Strip-Teaser Brings Suit as Record Company Head.” Tampa [FL] Times (Jun 1, 1948), p. 12.

“The Cash Box Record Reviews.” Cash Box (Nov 27, 1947), p. 16.

Uno. “Burlesque.” Billboard (Mar 27, 1948), p. 43.

“Winnie the Waxer.” Billboard (Mar 13, 1948), p. 16.

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© 2018 by Allan R. Sutton. All rights are reserved. Full details of the Famous Record operation will appear in the author’s American Record and Producers, 1888–1950, currently in preparation for publication.

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Leeds & Catlin Data Now Available Online at DAHR

Leeds & Catlin Data Now Available Online at DAHR

 

As part of Mainspring Press’ ongoing transition to digital data distribution, we’re happy to announce that our Leeds & Catlin discography has now been incorporated into the University of California-Santa Barbara’s free online Discography of American Historical Recordings.

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The listings were expertly adapted from Leeds & Catlin Records: A History and Discography (William R. Bryant & Allan Sutton, Mainspring Press, 2015) and include the latest revisions to that work. All brands are covered, from the well-known Leeds, Imperial, and Sun labels to such truly obscure items as 20th Century and Duquesne.

The American Record Company (Hawthorne, Sheble & Prescott) and International Record Company databases are currently in preparation for DAHR. Mainspring’s American Zonophone data, including the previously unpublished volume covering 7″, 9″, and 11″ issues, was transferred to DAHR last year.

American Record Labels • Sorting Out Paramount’s Two “National” Labels (1922 – 1924)

SORTING OUT PARAMOUNT’S TWO “NATIONAL” LABELS
(1922 – 1924)

By Allan Sutton

 

During 1922–1924, the New York Recording Laboratories supplied Paramount masters to two unrelated National labels that operated under completely different business models. Unfortunately, discographers (particularly foreign ones who have  access to only a small sampling of the actual discs, or who trust reports from unreliable sources) have muddled them together over the years.

Some progress has been made lately in sorting out a related situation (the two faces of Puritan, with more capable  discographers now distinguishing between the United Phonographs/New York Recording Laboratories and Bridgeport Die & Machine versions of the label in their work). Hopefully, this article will spark a similar effort in regard to the two Paramount-derived National labels of the early 1920s.

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The National Record Exchange Company (Iowa City, Iowa) launched its version of the National label in early 1922 and contracted production to NYRL. National Record Exchange was founded by Francis Waldemar Kracher, who filed for copyright on the slogan, “Get new records on our exchange plan,” on March 6, 1922. The company’s trademark application claimed use of the brand on phonographs (without mentioning records) since February 10, 1922. The records were used in an exchange scheme, rather than being sold outright.

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National Record Exchange agents were scattered across the country. This ad appeared in the Santa Ana [California] Register on August 7, 1922.

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The National Record Exchange’s 12000-series catalog numbers correspond to those on NYRL’s version of the Puritan label (which in turn were derived from the corresponding Paramount catalog numbers), plus 10000 — thus, in the example pictured below, National 12130 = Puritan (NYRL) 11130 = Paramount 20130. A lesser-known 8000 series featured a mixture of standards, light classics, and ethnic material from the Paramount catalog. Catalog numbers for that series correspond to Paramount’s, minus 25000 (for example, National 8113 = Paramount 33113).

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(From Allan Sutton & Kurt Nauck’s American Record Labels & Companies:
An Encyclopedia, 1891–1943
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National Record Exchange agents were scattered across the country, but like some earlier exchange plans, the idea seems not to have caught on. The label appears to have been discontinued in 1924, and today, the records range from uncommon to rare, depending upon the issue.

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The National Certificate Corporation employed a very different model for their version of the National label, which launched at approximately the same time as the National Record Exchange. In an early version of the trading-stamp scheme, National Certificate gave away coupons with purchases made from participating  dealers, which could be redeemed for National records and other goods.

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An August 1922 ad encouraging consumers to patronize stores that gave
National Certificate coupons.

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Production was also contracted to NYRL, but in this case, manufacturing was handed off to the Bridgeport Die & Machine Company in Connecticut, using Paramount masters. BD&M manufactured the East Coast version of NYRL’s Puritan label, along with Broadway, Triangle, and a host of other brands originally pressed from Paramount masters. BD&M Puritans sometimes used NYRL Puritan’s couplings and catalog numbers, but quite often, the company recoupled selections and/or reassigned NYRL’s Puritan catalog numbers to different recordings. The same situation applied with National.

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Two BD&M National pressings from Paramount masters, both unlisted in the Van Rijn–Van der Tuuk Paramount discography and similar works. These use the same couplings and catalog numbers as BD&M’s version of the Puritan label. Both selections were also issued by the National Record Exchange, under different catalog numbers derived from the corresponding Paramount numbers. (ARLAC)

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The coupon model appears to have been little more popular than the exchange model, based upon the relative rarity of National Certificate’s records. The last confirmed releases use Paramount masters recorded during the summer of 1923, and thus far, no advertising for the records after early 1924 has been found. An unrelated National label, manufactured by Grey Gull for the possibly fictitious National Record Company (location not stated), made a brief appearance in 1925.

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Final Close-Out Sale on All Mainspring Press Books • Save 10% to 50% Off Original List Prices

 

 

 

 

On May 13, a substantial portion of our remaining book inventory sustained severe water damage and had to be discarded. The undamaged copies have been recovered and are now being offered at final clearance pricing of 10% to 50% off original list. All are in their original shrink-wrap and have been carefully inspected to ensure you receive perfect, first-quality copies.

Because we are in the process of converting from book production to online data distribution, none of these titles will be reprinted. Quantities are very limited, and prices will never be lower — order soon to avoid missing out!

Visit www.mainspringpress.com for secure online ordering with Visa, Master Card, or Pay Pal. A mail-order form is also available on the site. Sorry, no phone orders.

The James A. Drake Interviews • Milton Cross (Part 2)

MILTON CROSS INTERVIEW
Part 2 of 3
James A. Drake

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Let me ask you about many of the great singers whose names you mentioned earlier.  As I mention them, please tell me what comes to mind when you hear their names.  Let me begin with Geraldine Farrar.

Of all of the great singers I have been privileged to come to know, Geraldine Farrar was the most special to me.  The first performance in which I heard her was a Tosca with Antonio Scotti as Scarpia, and Alessandro Bonci as Cavaradossi, in 1909.  I still have the program from that performance, and her autograph is written across it.  I treasure that program more than any other—and believe me, I have many!

Almost twenty-five years later, in the 1930s, I had the privilege of working closely with her when she did intermission features during the Met broadcasts.  She based each of her features on the opera that we were broadcasting that afternoon—and to demonstrate various musical points that she was making, she would sing two or three bars from the score, accompanying herself on a little upright piano that was put in the box for her.

What was Farrar like as a person?

This sounds trite to say, but she was a star—a real star—but she was very approachable, very considerate, and very supportive of everyone she worked with.  When I first saw her in 1909, I thought she was even more beautiful in-person than in the photograph I had of her.  In those days, I had her photo in a frame next to my bed.  I was thoroughly smitten!  I see the same phenomenon happening today [1974] with Kiri Te Kanawa, just as I saw it happening with Anna Moffo a few years ago.

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Geraldine Farrar (G. G. Bain Collection, Library of Congress)

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In the opera house, did Farrar sound like she does on her Victor Red Seal recordings?

Yes and no.  The mechanical-recording process was none too kind to women singers, except perhaps for coloratura sopranos.  In the [opera] house, Farrar’s voice was much larger than what you hear on her old recordings, and her middle range was much larger than her recordings would lead you to believe.  That’s why I’m so glad that several of her intermission features were saved as radio transcriptions.  Those transcriptions capture the gorgeous sound of her middle range.  None of her old recordings were able to do that.

You spoke about Evan Williams, and the warmth of his personality when you met him after a concert.  Did John McCormack, whom you not only heard but worked with on radio, have that same type of personality offstage?

No!  John McCormack was always cordial but very formal, rather aloof, and “all business,” as they say—not the genial Irishman that the public imaged him to be.  Although he was the most famous tenor of his time except Caruso, McCormack was always suspicious of any upcoming singers who were singing what he regarded as his songs.  I can remember a number of times at rehearsals, when he would take me aside and quiz me about other singers who were on the radio.  “Now tell me, Mr. Cross,” he once said to me, “who is this Bing Crosby, and what do you know of him?”  I answered that I knew Bing personally, and that he was a fine fellow.

“And what is his voice?” McCormack wanted to know.  “Well, he’s a light baritone,” I said, “and he’s a crooner like your friend Mr. [Rudy] Valée.”  I knew that McCormack liked Rudy Vallee because Rudy had him on his radio show and treated him like a king—and Rudy, of course, never sang any songs that were associated with John McCormack.

“This boy Crosby is doing my songs on his program,” McCormack said to me very sternly.  “Last week he sang my ‘Adeste Fidelis,’ and I don’t think I like that very much!”  I tried to remind him that this was the holiday season, but that didn’t seem to make any difference to McCormack.  After that conversation, I got in touch with Bing and told him about it—and then Bing invited McCormack to be on his radio program, and made a big fuss over him.  From then on, Bing and McCormack became good friends.

Around that same time, McCormack took me aside again and said, almost in the same words, “Now tell me, Mr. Cross, who is this James Melton, and what do you know of him?”  I said that I didn’t know Melton very well, not like I knew Bing, but that [Melton] was a light tenor who had been with The Revelers, and was now a soloist on the radio.  “Are you aware,” McCormack said brusquely, “that this boy Melton had the nerve to sing my ‘Macushla’ on the radio this week?  Does that boy think he can just steal my music and take money from my own pockets?  I’ll not allow it!”

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John McCormack (G.G. Bain Collection, Library of Congress)

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That’s how McCormack was—very suspicious and very possessive, as in referring to “my ‘Macushla.’”  Now, as a singer, he was in a league of his own.  No one but John McCormack sounded like John McCormack.  And I have to say that even in popular songs like “Macushla,” which he did essentially “own,” his flawless vocal technique is always evident.  I would go so far as to say that there are at least two of his Victor recordings which I don’t believe any other tenor will ever surpass:  “Swans,” which has the most beautiful diminuendii you’ll ever hear, and “Il mio tesoro,” which is one of the greatest recordings of this century.

If my research is correct, you were in the audience for the Met debut of Leo Slezak, in an historic performance of Otello with Frances Alda and Antonio Scotti.

And with Toscanini conducting.  What a night that was!  That was only a few weeks before I heard Farrar in Tosca.  When Leo Slezak made his entrance, everyone in the audience literally gasped:  he looked like a real-life Paul Bunyan!  When he sang “Esultate!” the applause went on so long that Toscanini had difficulty restarting the orchestra.  I have heard a number of tenors in Otello since then, but I have never heard one who could equal Leo Slezak in that role.

Not even, say, Giovanni Martinelli, or more recently Mario Del Monaco?

Not at all.  Mario Del Monaco either could not or would not sing at any dynamic level other than forte.  Leo Slezak could do a diminuendo, which very few other tenors could do.  The only ones who come to mind in that regard are Giacomo Lauri-Volpi in his prime, and Franco Corelli today.  Corelli has done diminuendi on the air, notably in “Ah, levez-toi soleil” in Romeo et Juliette.

Do you recall Lauritz Melchior singing Otello to Elisabeth Rethberg’s Desdemona at the gala performance for Gatti-Casazza in 1935?

Yes, I was fortunate to be there, and of course I heard Melchior many times after that in the great Wagnerian roles.

Having heard Leo Slezak and Lauritz Melchior, how would you compare the two?  Would you consider them equals?

Not in Otello, no—if that’s what you mean.  In the Wagnerian roles, I would say that they were equals, at least in terms of the clarion quality of their voices.  But Melchior was incapable of subtlety, whereas Slezak was capable of infinite subtlety.  His lieder recordings, which he made relatively late in his career, are remarkable!  Melchior could never have done that.

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Elisabeth Rethberg and Ezio Pinza at the Met (from The NBC Transmitter, December 1940)

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The versatile Elisabeth Rethberg sang in the German wing of the Metropolitan wing, along with the Italian wing.  You also heard, as you mentioned, Maria Jeritza, who was also associated with some German roles in addition to her French and Italian ones.  And you also knew and heard Lotte Lehmann several times.  Can you compare them?

Oh, Lehmann was a thorough artist!  Jeritza was a fine interpreter and actor, as was Lehmann, but Jeritza was a better actor than a singer.  Lehmann could do it all—and she was witty, too.  I remember and intermission feature in which Jeritza and Lehmann were interviewed together, and Jeritza opened the interview by saying to Lehmann, “I have such good things to say about you, but I don’t think you’ll believe them.”  “No, I won’t,” said Lehmann with a laugh.

I also remember another intermission feature, a singer’s roundtable in which Lily Pons and Lotte Lehmann were interviewed.  Pons was always discreet about her age, and though she was rumored to be at least five years older than the claimed, her skin tone and her tiny physique made her look quite a bit younger.  In the interview, Lily laid out this beauty plan that was based on squeezing fresh lemons all over her face.  That’s how she kept her face so youthful-looking she said.  At that moment, Lehmann, whose face was quite wrinkled, got a great laugh by saying to Pons, “Tell me more about zeez lemons!”

Looking back on the great sopranos you worked with, including Lotte Lehmann, which ones were the most fun to be around and to work with?

In the 1920s and 1930s, the life of the party was always Rosa Ponselle.  Today, they would say that she “is where the action is.”  No soprano of her era had the kind of massive and reverential following that Ponselle did.  And, my God, she was funny!  She had pet names for all of us, and she treated everyone as a friend.  Then there was that voice—and there has never been another dramatic soprano that was equal to it.  Ponselle and Caruso were the two artists that everyone wanted to hear.  As Farrar said on the air, “When you hear Rosa Ponselle, you hear a fountain of melody blessed by the Lord.”  In the 1940s and 1950s, I had similar fun with Helen Traubel on tour. 

She too is reputed to have had a wicked sense of humor.  The same with Eleanor Steber.

They were great people, that’s why.  She made a few onstage mistakes, as they all do, but she laughed them off afterward.

And Eileen Farrell?

I certainly admire her singing—and, you know, she can sing popular music, especially blues numbers, as well as she can sing, say, Aida.  But she’s a very crude woman, very boorish, and she seems to be rather proud of it.

We spoke of James Melton, but in connection with John McCormack.  Melton’s career paralleled that of Richard Crooks.  What are your assessments of them as singers, interpreters, and actors?

In my opinion, one was an artist—Richard Crooks—and the other, Melton, was just a very fine singer.  Melton was at his best in songs like “Oh, Dry Those Tears” and “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen,” where the throb in his voice could accentuate the maudlin lyrics of those songs.  Crooks, on the other hand, was like a perfectly crafted cameo, especially in the French repertoire.  But he could sing almost anything and do it wonderfully.  When he was making recordings with the Victor Light Opera Company, his “Overheard the moon is beaming” from The Student Prince, or “If One Flower Grows in Your Garden” from The Desert Song, were musically excellent and dramatically intense.  And his Red Seal recording of the lullaby from Jocelyn will bring tears to your eyes, especially in the last few measures.

Staying with the topic of American tenors, you must have heard almost all of them.  Let me mention their names, and ask you to give me the impressions that come to your mind as you hear their names.  Let me begin with Charles Hackett.  Did you hear him in-person?

Oh, yes—several times.  I remember his Alfredo in Traviata, with Frieda Hempel as Violetta, and I also remember him in a Verdi Requiem with Rosa Ponselle, Margarete Matzenauer, and José Mardones.   Hackett’s was not a particularly beautiful voice—it was fairly large, though, a spinto tenor—but he was a superb musician and an excellent actor.  Hackett was a very nice-looking man, too.

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Charles Hackett (G. G. Bain Collection, Library of Congress)

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Another American tenor of that era was Riccardo Martin.  Did you hear him at the Met?

Yes, only once, as Pinkerton in Butterfly, with Farrar in the title role and Scotti as Sharpless.  I think Rita Fornia sang Suzuki.  Riccardo Martin was rather tall and trim, and was an excellent actor.  It was said that Caruso was very fond of him, and gave him a lot of encouragement.  Although Martin’s prime years were a little before Hackett’s, I would put them in the same league—not the most beautiful voices, in other words, but excellent interpreters and actors.

Among the other American tenors who had successful careers at the Met after World War One were Orville Harrold, Mario Chamlee, and Morgan Kingston.  What do you recall hearing them in?

I heard Orville Harrold in Cavalleria rusticana, in a double-bill with Le Coq d’Or rather than the more usual Pagliacci.  Orville Harrold was another Paul Bunyan-type—a big, tall, broad-shouldered fellow.  His voice had a lyrical tone quality, but it was surprisingly large in the opera house. Kingston I saw in La Navarraise, which Farrar and Léon Rothier.  He sang well, and it was a sizeable voice, but he sang everything at forte or fortissimo, so his part in the performance was not on a par with Farrar’s and Rothier’s.

I heard Chamlee in his debut, which was in Tosca with Farrar and Scotti in February 1920.  I had heard his recording of “E lucevan le stelle,” which sounded rather like Caruso’s Red Seal record.  Later, I found out from my friend Gus Haenschen, who was at Brunswick in the old days, that Walter B. Rogers, who directed Brunswick’s equivalent of the Victor Red Seal, had coached Chamlee to imitate Caruso’s recording phrase by phrase.  But in the [opera] house, Chamlee didn’t sound anything like that.  It was a good voice, but not a great voice—and he certainly didn’t sound anything like Caruso.

Two other American tenors who come to mind were Paul Althouse and Frederick Jagel.  Did you hear both tenors?

Yes, I did.  Paul Althouse had almost two separate careers—first in the Italian and French tenor roles, and later in some of the Wagnerian heldentenor roles.  He was better, in my opinion, in the Wagnerian repertoire.  Frederick Jagel was a very capable tenor in the lyric Italian roles.  I remember his Turiddu being especially good, both vocally and histrionically.  Like Althouse, Jagel was a good, solid, reliable performer.  But neither of them had what I would regard as great voices.

You heard Caruso in his prime.  Please tell me everything you can remember about the experience of hearing and seeing him at the Met.

I first heard Caruso on March 15, 1910, with Johanna Gadski as Aida, Louise Homer as Amneris, Pasquale Amato as Amonasro, and Toscanini conducting.   At home, we owned Caruso’s Victor Red Seal of “Celeste Aida” (Victor 88025), which he had recorded in 1906, and the Johanna Gadski-Louise Homer duets from the second act [“Fu la sorte” and “Alla pompa, che s’appressa”].  We also had the two Red Seals of the Tomb Scene with Caruso and Gadski.  I played those Tomb Scene discs so many times that I could hear them in my sleep—but it wasn’t until I heard Caruso and Gadski sing it on the stage that I realized that several cuts had been made in those recordings.

In the opera house, did Caruso sound like he did on his many Red Seal recordings?

I didn’t think so.  His voice sounded smaller than it did on recordings.  I was expecting to hear a huge voice, and instead it seemed a good deal smaller but also much more nuanced.  In “Celeste Aida,” for example, his tempo was considerably slower than it was on the recording, and he did a lot of shading that you don’t hear on his recordings.  Of course, from the little seat I had way up in the balcony, I was hearing him from far away.  In the recordings, his voice was coming directly into my ears from the Victrola.

That’s a very good point, and one that’s overlooked in acoustical recording technology.  The singer was about five or six inches from the recording horn, which was fed directly into the max master, and the resulting recording was played through an acoustical speaker that was only a few feet from the listener—an entirely different experience, in other words, from hearing a great singer in a cavernous opera house, even one with excellent acoustics.

That’s one of the main reasons why, when I heard the first few measures of Caruso singing “Celeste Aida,” I thought to myself, “He doesn’t sound like his Red Seals.  He doesn’t sound like Caruso.”  Now, in retrospect I shouldn’t have listened to those Red Seals at our home over and over before going to the Met so I could compare them to the singer’s “live” voices.  But at the time, I didn’t realize that all of these singers used a different technique—well, not a different technique in the vocal-production sense, but rather a different approach—when they made studio recordings.

Was Caruso’s a beautiful voice in your judgment? 

Well, yes, in its own way.  His voice had the baritonal quality that you hear on his recordings—and there was no effort at all in his singing.  I remember that his movements onstage were more natural, I thought, than Gadski’s.  She looked rather stiff by comparison.  The makeup they used for her was awfully dark, almost the color of mud, which didn’t exactly help her.  Pasquale Amato, on the other hand, seemed very natural, and his Amonasro was very well acted.

Was there any part of that Aida performance in which you “heard” the Caruso voice that we’re familiar with on recordings?

Well, looking back, it was probably a mistake to listen to those recordings over and over again before going to the opera house.  What I was expecting to hear were those ringing high notes that I had heard in those Aida recordings.  In my head, I was listening to the recordings, especially of “Celeste Aida,” and as soon as I heard him singing the aria at a slower tempo, and with so much nuance, I was disappointed because I wasn’t hearing those trumpet-like high notes.

But I did hear them later in the opera.  It was at the end of the Nile Scene, when he sang “[Sacerdote!] Io resto a te!”  Maybe [Francesco] Tamagno sang high notes with such tremendous power—I don’t know—but when Caruso sang “Io rest’ a te,” I said to myself, “Yes!  That’s it!  That is Caruso!”  He had never recorded that music, so I was hearing him sing it—I should say, I was hearing him, meaning his real voice—for the first time.   There’s a lesson in that for people today.  Enjoy your records when you play them, but don’t expect the record to sound like the singer, or vice-versa.

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Pasquale Amato (right), with Antonio Scotti and Lucrezia Bori
(G. G. Bain Collection, Library of Congress)

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About Pasquale Amato:   in the opera house, sound at all like his Victor recordings?

On the stage, Amato’s voice was like a French horn.  It was quite large, though not as large as Ruffo’s was.  Like Caruso, Amato used a lot of shading in his singing, which doesn’t come across in his recordings.  There was such precision in that performance of Aida.  Toscanini saw to that!  But no, to answer your question, his recordings don’t do him justice.

After Caruso’s passing, many of the dramatic roles for which he was famous were assigned to Giovanni Martinelli, and the more lyrical roles to Beniamino Gigli.  You heard them many times in the ensuing years.  Are there particular performances of theirs which you recall vividly?

Yes, especially in Martinelli’s case.  You must remember that Gigli left the Metropolitan in 1932, but that Martinelli sang there until 1946.  Martinelli’s first in-house role was Rodolfo in Bohème, with Lucrezia Bori in 1913, and his last in-house performance was as Rodolfo, with Licia Albanese as Mimi.  Interestingly, Bori and Albanese were exactly the same height, and had almost the identical measurements.  Even their shoe sizes were the same.  Licia [Albanese] told me that when she tried on a pair of shoes that Bori had worn—they were Size 2—they fit Licia perfectly.

Were you in the audience when Gigli made his debut as Faust in Mefistofele?

Yes, and I think I heard almost every in-house performance that Gigli gave during his first season.  His debut was one of the most talked-about and the most anticipated in the circles that I was in.  Gigli had the most beautiful tenor voice I have ever heard.

Were there any similarities in Gigli’s voice, compared to Caruso’s? 

Not to my ears, no.  Gigli’s was the perfect lyric tenor voice.  It was a sizable voice, too.  The beauty of [his] timbre was indescribable.  If I were asked to write a dictionary, after the word “tenor” I would put a photograph of Beniamino Gigli.

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Beniamino Gigli. Silly poses like this were Victor’s attempt to impart a more “down-to-earth image” to their Red Seal artists.
(G. G. Bain Collection, Library of Congress)

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Among other tenors who come to mind in the lyric roles were Tito Schipa, and later Ferruccio Tagliavini.  How would you compare them to Gigli?

In one role that I can think of, the title role in Mascagni’s L’Amico Fritz, Schipa and Tagliavini were superb.  But I heard Miguel Fleta as Fritz, with Bori as Suzel, in 1923, and he was extraordinary!  In those days, L’Amico Fritz was occasionally paired with Cavalleria rusticana, since both were written by Mascagni.

On recordings, in my personal opinion, the two best versions of the second-act “Cherry Duet” are Schipa’s with Mafalda Favero, and Tagliavini’s with Pia Tassinari, his wife, as Suzel.  If you know L’Amico Fritz, you’ll know that the singing in the third act, such as the “Ah! Ditela per me,” requires some vocal heft.  That’s why Fleta and Gigli were excellent in L’Amico Fritz.  They could sing at any dynamic level, from pianissimo to fortissimo, and their techniques were excellent.

If I were asked to choose between Schipa or Tagliavini with Gigli in L’Amico Fritz, especially in the third act, Gigli would be my choice.  It’s remarkable, though, how much Tagliavini sounded like Gigli in the softer passages—but only in the softer passages.  Although he had a very fine career, I think that Tagliavini’s Gigli-like timbre worked against him.  He was always compared to Gigli, but his [Tagliavini’s] voice had none of the heft that Gigli had.

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© 2018 by James A. Drake. All rights are reserved. Short excerpts may be quoted without permission, provided the source and a link to this posting are cited. All other use requires prior written consent of the copyright holder. Please e-mail Mainspring Press with questions, comments, or reproduction requests for the author.

The Bain News Service photographs at the Library of Congress are in the public domain and may be reproduced without permission.

 

Collectors’ Corner • Some April Finds (Blind Willie Johnson, Oscar “Lone Wolf” Woods, Ted & Roy, East Texas Serenaders)

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BLIND WILLIE JOHNSON: Trouble Will Soon Be Over  (EE-)

Atlanta: April 20, 1930
Columbia 14537-D  (mx. W 194930 – 2; remastering of  W 150311)

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BLIND WILLIE JOHNSON: The Rain Don’t Fall on Me  (E)

Atlanta: April 20, 1930
Columbia 14537-D  (mx. W 194929 – 2; remastering of  W 150310)

These and most of the other recordings from this session were remastered in May 1930, prior to release, and show only the 194000-series master numbers. The female singer (said to be Johnson’s first or second wife in various anecdotal accounts) is unidentified in the Columbia files and on the labels.

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OSCAR WOODS (THE LONE WOLF): Lone Wolf Blues  (V+)

New Orleans: March 21, 1936
Decca 7219  (mx. 60848 – A)

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OSCAR WOODS (THE LONE WOLF): Don’t Sell It — Don’t Give It Away  (V+)

New Orleans: March 21, 1936
Decca 7219  (mx. 60849)

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TED BROUGHTON & ROY RODGERS (THE HAWAIIAN SONGBIRDS):  Happy Hawaiian Blues  (V+)

Dallas: c. October 25, 1928
Perfect 11342  (ARC mx. 12135 – D1; remastering of Brunswick mx.
DAL-697 – A)

Not Roy Rogers, the movie cowboy. Unfortunately, this duo recorded only four titles, two of which (from November 1930) were never issued. The ARC dubbings were made on July 29, 1932.

Note to newer collectors: A “-D” master-number suffix on ARC pressings always indicates a dubbing — which should be disclosed as such by dealers, but rarely is. Most of ARC’s dubbings are of good quality and make fine “listening” copies; but they are not as valuable monetarily as original-master pressings, except in cases where the latter were not issued. Caveat emptor.

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EAST TEXAS SERENADERS: Acorn Stomp  (EE-)

Dallas: October 25, 1928
Brunswick 282  (mx. DAL-720 – )

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Mainspring Press Has Pulled the Plug on Facebook — Here’s How to Stay in Touch

Mainspring Press Has Pulled the Plug on Facebook —
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The James A. Drake Interviews • Nina Morgana (Conclusion) and her 1920 Victor Test Recording

NINA MORGANA
Part 3 (Conclusion)
By James A. Drake.

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Nina Morgana, c. 1920 (G. G. Bain Collection, Library of Congress)

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On the subject of broadcasts, you sang with Gigli in one of the earliest Saturday matinee broadcasts, am I correct?

Yes.  Radio became more and more important in the early and middle-1930s.  I remember singing Inès in of one of the first radio broadcasts from the Met [on March 19, 1933], with Gigli as Vasco and Rethberg as Selika.  But the most memorable broadcast I can recall was the silver-anniversary gala for Gatti-Casazza [on February 26, 1933].  Lily Pons sang the Lucia Sextet with Lauri-Volpi, Tancredi Pasero—what a voice!—and Armando Borgioli, and dear old Angelo Badà.  The broadcast was quite special because Alma Gluck spoke on the air, and [Marcella] Sembrich and [Ernestine] Schumann-Heink were present for the gala.

Gigli also had a very memorable appearance in a broadcast that was billed as a “surprise party” in 1932.  Certain parts of the playbill were titled after dishes that one would find on a restaurant menu—one scene was called “Russian Caviar,” another was “Wiener Schnitzel,” and “French Champaign.”  I sang in the one called “Italian Minestrone” on the playbill.   In the “French Champaign” segment, Gigli came onstage in the costume of Carmen and sang the “Habanera.”  Not in falsetto, but in his real voice.

 

You mentioned Lily Pons singing in the Lucia Sextet at Gatti-Casazza’s silver-anniversary gala.  I believe you sang in the Sextet at his farewell gala in March 1935.

The Lucia Sextet was the opening selection of the farewell for Gatti, but the most talked-about performance of that Gala was Melchior singing the last act of Otello with Elisabeth Rethberg. [5]  Five days after that farewell gala, I sang my last performance at the Met.  It was in Bohème—I sang Musetta, and Rethberg sang Mimì.  It was a Saturday matinee broadcast, and a fragment of it was recorded.  I have heard it, but the sound quality is so poor that I can barely make out my own voice.  So the only sound recordings I have of my voice are the tests I made for Victor, which Caruso had made possible.

 

Were you present for any of Caruso’s recording sessions?

Just once, when he recorded “Rachel! Quand du Seigneur,” in September 1920.  He invited me to come to the Victor studios with Bruno.  [Caruso] recorded something else that day—a song, but I can’t recall its title now.  Of course, Bruno was at all of Caruso’s recording sessions from 1917 until 1920.  The first one he was present for was the recording of the Rigoletto Quartet and the Lucia Sextet in January 1917.

 

Do you recall seeing a test recording of the opening tenor measures of “Bella figlia dell’amore,” which Caruso sang?  The test recording was cut off when the others in the ensemble began to sing.

Yes, we had a copy of it.  Caruso inscribed the label to himself—either “To Enrico from Enrico,” or “To Caruso from Caruso,” something of that sort.

 

Do you still have that test pressing?

No.  My husband managed not only to lose that one, but he also misplaced the private recording Caruso made of the “Coat Song” from Bohème.

 

When did you make your test recordings for Victor?

 In 1920.  On Thursday afternoon, April 29, 1920.

 

Were you intimidated at all by the conical recording “horn”?

Well, it wasn’t “conical,” it was octagonal.  It was suspended by an adjustable chain, and there were two large mahogany doors below it.  I wasn’t intimidated by it not only because I had watched Caruso make the Juive recording, but also because the director at Victor, Mr. [Josef] Pasternack, who accompanied me at the piano, explained the recording process to me in detail.

 

How many test recordings did you make that day?

Just two.  I sang Chadwick’s “He Loves Me,” and then “Come per me sereno” from Sonnambula.

 

Were you able to hear the test recordings played back to you soon after you finished making the recordings?

No.  I was invited to the Victor studios in Manhattan to hear the recordings played, and was given both of the discs after they were played for me.

 

Were you pleased with what you heard?

With “Come per me sereno,” yes.  But my voice sounded too distant in “He Loves Me.”

 

Do you recall what type of piano, a grand or an upright, was used in your recordings, and where the piano was located?

It was a grand piano with the lid raised to its maximum, pointed toward the horn.  I stood on a stool in front of the horn, with the bend of the piano immediately behind me.
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NINA MORGANA (Josef Pasternack, piano): Come per me sereno

Victor test: April 29, 1920
(A busy day at Victor; others who cut tests on this date, ahead of Nina Morgana, included Lew Brown, William Robyn, Fred Whitehouse, and the Finnish Mixed Quartette. Data from the Discography of American Historical Recordings.)
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Do you know why your recordings were never released commercially?

There were two reasons, really.  The first was that Caruso died unexpectedly.  As soon as he recovered from his illness, he was to have recorded “É il sol dell’anima” with me.  After he died, of course, that became a moot point.  The other reason had to do with my husband.  Bruno wanted only one “star” in our home, and being a traditional Italian man, he had to be the center of attention.

 

You were a classically-trained soprano who was taught through the solfeggio method by a legendary soprano.  Mr. Zirato had no musical education at all, and yet he spent his career in the operatic and symphonic worlds.  To what extent did he really “know” music?

 He knew [opera] libretti as well as any conductor or coach.  He knew them so thoroughly that he had an annoying habit of speaking the lines while a singer was singing them.  He did that throughout every performance I attended with him, and no matter how many times I stuck my elbow into his arm to shut him up, he couldn’t stop reciting the lines.  It annoyed everyone around us because his voice was so deep.  I felt that he did it [i.e., reciting lines in his box seat while they were being sung onstage] to show off, to impress everyone around us with his vast knowledge of the repertoire.

 

But he could not read music, correct?

No, not at all.  Nor did he have a very good sense of pitch.  Unless a singer or an instrumental soloist was flat or sharp by at least a half-tone, his ear couldn’t detect it.

 

Did you sing at home, and did he give you any opinions about your singing?

Occasionally, I would go to the piano and accompany myself in arias that I loved but which were not a part of my repertoire.  As I said earlier, I loved singing tenor arias such as “M’appari,” “Che gelida manina,” and “Come un bel dí di Maggio.”  Once, I remember accompanying myself and seeing Bruno come to the piano, put his hands on the raised lid, and listen to me singing—or so I thought.  As soon as I finished, he said to me, “My podiatrist says I have beautiful feet.”

 

Would you have continued to sing under the Johnson administration if you had been given more performances and more opportunities to sing the major coloratura roles?

It wouldn’t have been possible under the circumstances, for several reasons.  Caruso had been my entré to the Met, and when he died I knew that my chances for the major coloratura roles would be limited.  Galli-Curci came [to the Met], and then Lily Pons.  They were Gatti-Cassazza’s and then Johnson’s coloraturas, and I was limited mainly to Amina in Sonnambula, an occasional Gilda, and more often than not, Musetta in Bohème.   And as I said, my husband wanted to be the only celebrity in our home.  So that was that.

 

Some twenty-five years after Caruso’s passing, you and your husband became very close to Arturo Toscanini.  From some interviews that Toscanini gave, we know that although he admired and respected both Caruso and Gigli, he was not at all shy about criticizing them for taking on roles that were inappropriate for their young voices.

He repeated to Bruno and me many times his exclamation upon hearing Caruso in Italy for the first time:  “Per Dio!  If this young Neapolitan tenor keeps singing like this, he will have the whole word talking about him!”  When Caruso began to take on gradually heavier roles, Toscanini was prone to lecture him—and later Gigli, and all of the rest of us—about the danger of impairing the voice by imposing the requirements of dramatic parts upon an essentially lyrical voice and technique.

Toscanini thought that Gigli was superb in Bohème, Elisir d’amore, and Rigoletto, but that Africana, Trovatore, and Aida were too weighty for his voice.  Just as Toscanini had been critical of Caruso for taking on heavier roles too early in his career, he was critical of all of the other tenors who came after Caruso.  But Toscanini, musical genius that he was, could be susceptible to irresistible personalities.

Two that come to mind were Giovanni Martinelli, who could do no wrong in Maestro’s eyes, and Geraldine Farrar, with whom he [Toscanini] had a prolonged love affair. Perhaps you know the story of the clashes between Toscanini and Farrar—especially his remark that she was not a “star” because the only stars are in the night sky, and her retort that audiences came to see her on the stage, not to stare at the back of Toscanini’s head in the orchestra pit.

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Geraldine Farrar selling Liberty Bonds, 1918 (G. G. Bain Collection, Library of Congress)

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Because of my husband’s close association with Toscanini through the New York Philharmonic, Bruno and I were often invited to the relatively few social events that Toscanini would attend.  One of the most memorable of these events was a dinner that Farrar gave for Toscanini at her home in Connecticut in the early 1950s.

We rode there with Toscanini in his chauffeured car, and unlike other invitations that he initially accepted and almost immediately regretted, the invitation from Farrar put him in a very good mood.  That mood changed abruptly when the main course was served.  From then until we left, which was as soon as we politely could, Toscanini sat at her dinner table, glaring at his plate.

When we got into the car, he exploded!  “I slept with that woman for seven years,” he shouted, “and she knows I hate fish!”

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You sang under Toscanini.  Do you recall how many times?

 The only performance I remember distinctly was a Beethoven Ninth Symphony with Richard Crooks, Sophie Braslau, and Ezio Pinza, and the Schola Cantorum in 1928.

 

How was the Maestro’s temperament during the rehearsals? 

“Vesuvian” is the word that comes to my mind.  He broke at least one, maybe two batons, and he threw his pocket watch on the floor and crushed it with his heel!  He pointed out poor Crooks and told him that he sang like a sick pig.  Then he used a very crude Italian expression for Pinza.  It would embarrass me to repeat it [but] he told Pinza that his singing had the same worth that the pig’s food has after the pig has digested and eliminated it.

 

Were you spared his wrath, since you knew him personally?

Definitely not!  He told me that Madame Arkel, whom he had known very well in Italy, should have forbade me ever to mention her name in public because my singing was a disgrace to her name!

 

Did he finish the rehearsal?

 Yes, but he rushed through it.  He was still enraged at the end [of the rehearsal], and shouted at us to get out of his sight and not come back until we were prepared to give our very best.  At the next rehearsal, I can assure you that Morgana, Braslau, Crooks, and Pinza and everyone else associated with the performance sang better than we ever knew we could!

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Arturo Toscanini, c. 1921 (G. G. Bain Collection, Library of Congress)

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Returning to Enrico Caruso, you sang a number of concerts with him.  Do you recall how many you sang with him?

 In all, there were eleven.  The first one was in the ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria in February 1919, and the last was in New Orleans on June 26, 1920.  He had asked me to sing some upcoming concerts that fall [1920], two in Canada and three in the Midwest, but I was already scheduled to make my debut at the Metropolitan, so I had rehearsals and other obligations to attend to.

 

Did you sing most of the joint concerts that Caruso gave during World War One?

No, but I attended most of the ones he gave with other singers.  He did concerts with Louise Homer, Claudia Muzio, Frances Alda, and Galli-Curci.  I think he did one with Mary Garden, too.  One concert I remember particularly well was with De Luca, Alda, and Martinelli.  Can you imagine one of these tenors today inviting another famous tenor to appear with him?  But Caruso invited Martinelli to sing with him.  He was very fond of Martinelli, as I’ve told you.

Before Caruso invited me to appear with him, Carolina White and Mabel Garrison had sung [concerts] with him.  And Ganna Walska sang at least one [concert] with him.  But those were not really “joint concerts,” because Carolina White, Garrison, Ganna Walska and I were billed as “assisting artists” to Caruso.  The [concerts] he did with Mary Garden, Galli-Curci, Alda, Muzio, and Homer were truly joint concerts because they were first-rank artists.

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This program from October 1918 appears to contradict Morgana’s recollection that she toured with Caruso only during 1919–1920; however, another copy, in the Ann Arbor District Library, has the notation, “Postponed to Spring.” (William R. Bryant papers, Mainspring Press)

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What did Caruso typically sing, and what did you sing—not only on the printed program, but as encores?

The violinist Elias Breeskin toured with us, so he would open the program.  He had his own accompanist—ours was Salvatore Fucito—and [Breeskin] would usually play [the Dvorak] “Humoresque” or something similar.  Then I would sing either “Come per me sereno” from Sonnambula or “Ombra leggiera” from Dinorah, Those were the two arias I sang in all of our concerts.

Caruso would then sing “Celeste Aida,” which was always his first aria on the program.  Breeskin would then return to the platform and play two, sometimes three selections.  After that, I would sing an aria—again, either the Sonnambula or Dinorah aria, whichever one I hadn’t opened with—and Caruso would sing “Vesti la giubba,” which would always earn him a standing ovation.

After the ovation, he would motion for me to join him at the center of the stage, and we would sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” together.  Always—always—at the end of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” he would take me by the hands, and swing me around him.  That delighted him to no end, and the audience loved it!  Then he would motion for Breeskin and his accompanist, and also Fucito, to stand with us and take our bows.

After all of us left the stage, the applause would go on and on, and in the midst of it Caruso would walk back onto the stage from the wings—just two or three feet from the wings—and he would arch his eyebrows and turn the palms of his hands upward with a big smile, as if to say, “Would you like to hear more?”  That’s when the fun would begin!

He would point to me, and then point to himself, as if to say, “Go ahead and sing something of mine!”  This was all rehearsed, of course, and I would proceed to sing “M’appari” from Marta,  Next, he would motion for Breeskin to join him for the Massenet “Elégie.”  Then Caruso would sing three Tosti songs—and always the final one would be “’A vucchella.”

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You also sang a joint concert with Gigli, am I correct?

Yes, it was in Boston during a two-concert appearance in which his assisting artist was scheduled to be Anna Fitziu, but she was indisposed and he asked me to take her place.  I had sung a number of times in Philadelphia—in fact, I was in one of Gigli’s last performances there, a performance of L’Africana with Rethberg as Sélika  [on April 12, 1932].   When I replaced Anna Fitziu as his assisting artist, Gigli told me to sing whatever I wanted to sing, so I chose my two tried-and-true arias, the Dinorah and Sonnambula, and both were well received.

Gigli opened that concert, as he did many others that he gave, with the two Elisir arias:  he sang “Quanto è bella” and followed it with “Una furtiva lagrima.”    After I sang “Come per me sereno,” he sang three Italian songs.  He sang “Amarilli,” then “Primavera,” and before he sang the third one—“Tre giorni son che Nina”—he extended his hand to me, and he sang it to me.  Then I sang “Ombra leggiera,” after which he sang “O paradiso,” which earned him another standing ovation.

After “O paradiso,” he left the stage for a few minutes, and when he returned he sang three French selections—two songs whose titles I don’t recall at the moment, and then the Aubade from Le Roi d’Ys.  That was the last selection on the printed program.  As the applause continued, I came onstage and sang “Caro nome” as an encore.  Then Gigli sang five encores, mind you!  He began with “Santa Lucia,” then he sang three Tosti songs—“L’alba separa dalla luce l’ombra,” “Serenata,” and “Marechiare”—and he ended with “’O sole mio.”

If that isn’t a tour de force, what is?  I can assure you that his voice was just as fresh, just as dolcissima, in “’O sole mio” as it was in “Quanto è bella” and “Una furtiva lagrima” at the start of the concert.   Gigli’s entire career was that way:  fresh and sweet and beautiful from beginning to end.

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Nina Morgana with the author (Ithaca, New York, 1980)

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[5] Lawrence Gilman in the Herald Tribune:  “After a spirited curtain-raiser extracted from the immortal opus of Donizetti with Mme. Nina Morgana lending her gifts and skill and feeling and intensity as the unhappy heroine, the novelty of the evening was disclosed to us. This was a performance of the last Act of Verdi’s Otello with Mr. Melchior embodying the Moor of Venice for the first time in New York and Mme. Rethberg playing Desdemona. It is twenty-two years since the music of Otello was heard at the Metropolitan.”

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© 2018 by James A. Drake. All rights are reserved. Short excerpts may be quoted without permission, provided the source and a link to this posting are cited. All other use requires prior written consent of the copyright holder. Please e-mail Mainspring Press with questions, comments, or reproduction requests for the author.

Photographs from the Library of Congress’ Bain Collection are in the public domain and may be reproduced without permission.

The James A. Drake Interviews • Nina Morgana (Part 1)

NINA MORGANA
(Part 1 of 3)
By James A. Drake

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Born of Italian parents who had emigrated from Palermo, Sicily, to Buffalo, New York in 1890, Nina Morgana (1891-1984) first sang in public performances in her native city’s Italian district in 1900. [1]  After studying in Italy with Teresa Arkel from 1909-1913, she made well-received debuts in Alessandria and in Milan.  When she returned to America, she was chosen by Enrico Caruso as one of his assisting artists in a highly-publicized series of concerts in the United States.  Morgana made her Metropolitan Opera debut in the 1920-21 season, having previously sung with the Chicago Opera Association under the management of Mary Garden.

In June 1921, scarcely two months before Caruso’s sudden death, Morgana married the tenor’s full-time secretary, Bruno Zirato (1886-1972), who later became the general manager of the New York Philharmonic and also served as Arturo Toscanini’s representative in North and South America.  Essentially self-educated and invariably self-assured, Morgana was well-acquainted with Beniamino Gigli, as she discussed in a number of interviews conducted by the author from 1973-1979. 

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Bruno Zirato with Dorothy and Enrico Caruso on their wedding day, August 20, 1918. The location is the roof of the Knickerbocker Hotel, New York.
(G.G. Bain Collection, Library of Congress)

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You and Beniamino Gigli made your Metropolitan Opera debuts during the same season, is that correct?

In the same season, yes, and less than twenty-four hours apart:  Gigli made his as Faust in Boito’s Mefistofele on November 26, 1920, and I made mine as Gilda in Rigoletto on Saturday, November 27.  But strictly speaking, my debut was not my first performance at the Met.  Several months earlier, on March 28, I sang three arias at a Sunday Night Concert, with Pasquale Amato and [violinist] Albert Spalding also on the program. 

 

Was Caruso [was] to have sung the Duke in your debut in Rigoletto?

Yes, but he was ill, so Mario Chamlee sang the Duke at my debut. [2]  Giuseppe De Luca sang Rigoletto.  Chamlee and De Luca were also my partners in Barber of Seville during that same season.  I also sang Nedda in Pagliacci with Edward Johnson as Canio and Antonio Scotti as Tonio in my debut season.  I was to have sung Pagliacci with Caruso originally.

 

In operatic circles, it is widely known that you were “discovered” by Caruso.  When and where did this “discovery” take place?

I can tell you precisely:  it was on Saturday, May 9, 1908, at 3:00 p.m., in Buffalo, New York, in one of the four suites on the top floor of the Iroquois Hotel.   I can be more specific by telling you that Caruso’s suite was the one atop the front of the hotel, which faced Eagle Street.  The hotel, which had one-thousand rooms, was still new at that time; it had opened for business in conjunction with the Pan-American Exposition, which was held in Buffalo in 1901.

 

You performed at the Pan-American Exposition, correct?

Yes, I sang there in an exhibition called Venice in America, on the midway.  I was nine years old, and was billed as “Baby Patti” or “Child Patti” in the [Buffalo] newspapers.

 

It was at the Pan-American Exposition, on June 13, 1901, that President William McKinley was assassinated.  Do you recall anything about that tragic day?

The only memory I have is hearing adults around me saying very agitatedly, “The President has been shot!  The President has been shot!”  I was too young to know what “being shot” meant—and I also didn’t know what “president” meant, much less who the president was.  When I asked my parents about it, they tried to explain to me that in the United States, the president was “the king.”  Well, I didn’t know what a “king” was, so I just accepted the fact that someone important had been hurt in some way.

 

When you auditioned for Caruso, do you recall what you sang?

Yes, I sang “Caro nome.”  Just the “Caro nome,” without the recitative.  When I finished, Caruso patted me on the cheek and told my father, who came with me, that I had a very promising voice.  He told us that I would have to study in Italy, and he said he would write a letter on my behalf to the great Teresa Arkel, asking her to accept me as a pupil.  He did so, and about a year later, my father and I sailed to Italy.  During the day, while I was at Mme. Arkel’s having my lessons, my father worked as a laborer.

 

Obviously, Caruso detected the youthful promise in your voice, just as he did several years later with the young Rosa Ponselle.  Looking back, what do you think he heard in your voice that prompted him to refer you to Teresa Arkel?

Well, whatever he heard was not what Mme. Arkel heard!  In his letter to her, Caruso had written that he believed my voice would become a mezzo-sopranone, or in English, “a great big mezzo-soprano.”  When I sang for Mme. Arkel, however, she said that my voice would be fine for roles like Lucia, Amina in Sonnambula, and Adina in Elisir d’amore, which require an exceptional top.  And I had one, too.  By the time I left Mme. Arkel, I could sing the G above high-C effortlessly.  But vocally, I was certainly not going to be singing Mamma Lucia in Cavalleria rusticana.

 

When you were studying in Italy, was Caruso as famous there as he was in the U.S.?

Actually, no.  His recordings were well-known, of course, and hence his name was well-known, but since 1903 he had been at the Metropolitan Opera, not La Scala or one of the other houses in Italy.  The tenor who was admired when I was studying in Italy—not just admired, but adored—was Giuseppe Anselmi.  He was as famous there as Caruso was in the United States.  

Anselmi, whom I heard several times, had a gorgeous voice and a perfect technique, and was also extraordinarily handsome.  Anselmi was “all the rage,” so to say, as was Maria Galvany among sopranos.  It was Galvany, not Melba, who was adored in Italy, yet in America she was almost unknown other than on recordings.

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Giuseppe Anselmi

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A great tenor who sang during Anselmi’s time, and whom some historians claim was the equal of Caruso in certain roles, was Alessandro Bonci.  Did you see Bonci, and if so, what was your assessment of him?

The distance between Caruso and Bonci as tenors was about the size of the Grand Canyon.  They had nothing at all in common, either vocally or as men.  In Italy, it was rumored that Bonci was an unethical person.  He had played some part in obtaining a forged letter from Verdi, giving Bonci supposed permission to sing the “È scherzo od è follia” in a unique way.  I heard a recording of it, and Bonci’s performance was different yet acceptable.  But he was still in disrepute because he had paid someone to forge the letter from Verdi.

Personally, I saw Bonci as Faust in Boito’s Mefistofele, in which he was wearing an over-stated costume topped by a large hat with an even larger feather protruding from it.  Frankly, he looked silly on the stage.  Vocally, his singing was pleasant enough, and it reminded me somewhat of Lauri-Volpi because both of them had exceptional high ranges.  But Lauri-Volpi was handsome onstage, whereas Bonci was a feather-bearing little man in an overdone costume with high-heeled boots.

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Alessandro Bonci, 1910

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Earlier, you mentioned having sung with Edward Johnson in Pagliacci at the MetWhen Johnson’s name is mentioned in connection with the Metropolitan Opera, it is usually in reference to his tenure as General Manager, not as one of its significant tenors.  Do you recall the first time you heard him sing?

Yes, in Italy in 1910.  I sang with him there in Elisir d’amore.  At the time, he was singing under the Italianized name “Edoardo di Giovanni.”

 

Where in Italy did you make your debut? 

My very first performance on an opera stage was as the hidden “forest bird” in Siegfried, at the Teatro Dal Verme.   Tullio Serafin, who was young and handsome—his hair was brown and thick in those days—had come to Mme. Arkel to ask if she had a pupil who could sing the part.  She told him that I could do it, and I did—I sang it hidden in a papier-maché “tree.”  Giuseppe Borgatti was the star of the performance.

I was also in the premiere of Der Rosenkavalier at La Scala on March 1, 1911, which was led by Serafin.  The cast included Lucrezia Bori in the breeches role of Octavian, Ines Maria Ferraris as Sophie, and Pavel Ludikar as Baron Ochs.  During one of the curtain calls with the full cast, I held Strauss’s hand.

 

At the Met, Lucrezia Bori and Edward Johnson were famously paired as Romeo and Juliet.  But you knew both singers in Italy a decade before you made your Met debut?

Bori and Johnson were perfect for each other in Roméo et Juliette.  And, yes, I sang a number of performances with Johnson at the Met.  But his best partner among sopranos was Lucrezia Bori, not Nina Morgana.  I’m sure you have heard recordings of Bori, but have you seen photographs of her?

 

Yes, mostly studio portraits but a few candid ones, in various books about the history of the Met.

Most of her publicity photos were taken [of her] in profile, or else at an angle, rather than facing the camera lens.  She had an ocular condition called strabismus, which lay people refer to as having a “lazy eye” or, less kindly, as “cross-eyed.”  When she was relaxed, Bori’s right eye would tend to drift toward her nose.  My brother, Dante Morgana, a premiere ophthalmologist and surgeon, gave her exercises to train the muscles of her right eye to keep the eyeball centered.

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Lucrezia Bori (G. G. Bain Collection, Library of Congress)

 

Although fate deprived you of the opportunity to sing Pagliacci with Caruso, you sang not only Nedda but other major roles with almost all of the legendary tenors who inherited Caruso’s repertoire.

My best roles were Nedda in Pagliacci, Micaela in Carmen, and Musetta in Bohème.  Although I also sang Mimì in Bohème, [General Manager Giulio] Gatti-Casazza said that I was not only better as Musetta, but that I was the best Musetta of the several sopranos who sang the role under his management.  

 

Do you recall some of the casts in your performances of those operas?

I sang my first Micaela in Carmen with Giovanni Martinelli and Miguel Fleta alternating as Don José, and with José Mardones as Escamillo.  I know of no other basso profondo who could sing Escamillo—later, Pinza sang it, but his voice was a less powerful lyric sound compared to José Mardones.  But Mardones’ range was so marvelous that he could sing Escamillo easily and convincingly.  In some of my performance in Pagliacci, Antonio Scotti sang Tonio and the “new boy,” Lawrence Tibbett, was Silvio. 

In the 1924-1925 season, in a new production of Tales of Hoffmann, I sang the part of the mechanical doll Olympia, with Miguel Fleta as Hoffmann.  In that production, Bori sang the roles of Giulietta and Antonia, and she did them with great distinction.  Later, Queena Mario sang Antonia, but with no distinction at all.

Perhaps you know that Queena Mario’s birth name was Helen Tillotson, a perfectly fine name.  She claimed that [conductor and coach Wilfrid] Pelletier, to whom she was married, had suggested the ridiculous name “Queena,” but I think she made it up herself.  I used to make her mad by asking, “If you have a brother, is his name Kinga?”

 

You sang several times with Giovanni Martinelli, who, perhaps with the sole exception of Caruso, seems to have been beloved by everyone, even by the other great tenors of that era.

I sang Eudoxie in the revival of La Juive with Martinelli as Eléazar, Leon Rothier as the Cardinal, and Rosa Ponselle as Rachel, the role she had created [at the Met] with Caruso in 1919.  In fact, other than Martinelli singing Eléazar in place of Caruso, the revival had almost the same cast as the [Met] premiere.  Ponselle sang most of the performances, but not all of them.  Florence Easton sang several Rachels, as did Elisabeth Rethberg later.

Among the other great tenors of that period, I sang with Giacomo Lauri-Volpi for the first time in Rigoletto in 1926, with De Luca and Mardones.  For that performance, with Gatti-Casazza’s consent, I made a change in Gilda’s costume:  I wore a pink gown in the first scene.  I also sang with Lauri-Volpi in Africana, with Ponselle as Selika, and I sang with him again in Pagliacci in the 1929-1930 season.  In Africana, Gigli was cast instead of Lauri-Volpi in several of the performances I was in, and Florence Easton replaced Ponselle in some of them.  Most were conducted by Serafin.

 

Do you recall the tenors with whom you sang in Bohème?

As I said earlier, Musetta was one of my best and most frequent roles, and I was especially fortunate to sing several performances with Lauri-Volpi as Rodolfo [in 1932].  A few times, Rodolfo was sung by Martinelli.  It’s not a role that one would immediately associate with him, but the color of Martinelli’s voice was light enough for it, and he restrained the volume of his clarion voice.  I also sang some performances with Armand Tokatyan, who was a very fine tenor and deserves to be remembered better today.

I was also fortunate to be in the opera house on the opening night of the 1921-22 season, when Gigli sang Alfredo to Galli-Curci’s Violetta at her debut.  I knew Galli-Curci before then.  Both of us had sung in Chicago when Mary Garden was the general manager.

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Mary Garden (G. G. Bain Collection, Library of Congress)

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If one-half of the stories that have been told and written about Mary Garden are true, she must have been a formidable person.

Indeed, she was, but probably no more so than Melba or Patti before her.  They ruled their kingdoms—and they made those kingdoms.  No woman who achieved what Patti, or Melba, or Geraldine Farrar, or Mary Garden achieved, could have done so without enormous self-confidence.  Mary Garden, at least as I knew her, was not imperious at all, but she knew very well what her value was. 

She could talk about herself in a way that may sound conceited in the retelling, but from her standpoint it was simply a matter of fact.  I remember walking to the Chicago Opera house with my sister Angie, who traveled with me, and seeing Mary Garden coming toward us.  She stopped us and said, “Did you see my Carmen last night?” Not “How are you,” or “Wonderful to see you today,” but “Did you see my Carmen last night?” 

We hadn’t seen it, so we said so.  “You must see my next one,” she replied.  “There is nothing like it, and there never will be.”  She said that without a trace of haughtiness.  It was as if she had said, “You should carry an umbrella tomorrow because it’s likely to rain.”    

___________

[1]  The family of Nina Morgana, which comprised seven children, is remarkable not only for her success, but also her siblings’ successes. In addition to her brother Dante Morgana (who, as she mentions in the interview, became a nationally-known eye surgeon), her brother Emilio Morgana entered the priesthood and became a close friend of the friar-author Thomas Merton.  Another brother, Charles Morgana (Giuseppe Carlo Morgana), was an automotive inventor and a close associate of Henry Ford.  His older sister, Angelina Morgana, followed their brother Dante into medical school, where she became the only female in her class in the Medical Department (as it was then known) of the University of Buffalo.   She withdrew because of the harassment she experienced from the all-male faculty.

[2]  Here Morgana’s normally precise memory has failed her: on the day of her Metropolitan Opera debut (Saturday, November 27, 1920) Caruso sang a matinee performance of La forza del destino, and hence was not “ill.”
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© 2018 by James A. Drake. All rights are reserved. Short excerpts may be quoted without permission, provided the source and a link to this posting are cited. All other use requires prior written consent of the copyright holder. Please e-mail Mainspring Press with questions, comments, or reproduction requests for the author.

Photographs from the Library of Congress’ Bain Collection are in the public domain and may be reproduced without permission.

_______________________________________
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Coming in Part 2: Nina Morgana’s personal recollections of Caruso; Gigli’s premier at the Met; comparing the great tenors

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The Louisville Jug Band Gets Arrested (1914), and Other Earl McDonald Snippets

The earliest known personnel listing for the Louisville Jug Band, 1914. “Colvin” presumably is a typo for Ben Calvin, who worked on-and-off with McDonald for many years; could “John Smith” be a typo for Cal Smith, a long-time McDonald associate? (Louisville Courier-Journal, October 20, 1914)

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A 1918 iteration of the Louisville Jug Band, interrupting their Chicago engagement for a week’s appearance at the Antler cabaret in Dayton, Ohio. Can anyone identify the members? (Dayton Daily News, April 14, 1918)

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McDonald and company fared far better than most race-record artists during the early Depression years, thanks to their popular “Ballard Chefs” broadcasts. Originating in Louisville, the program aired in many major cities. (What’s on the Air, April 1930)

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Earl McDonald entertains at the University Kentucky. (Louisville Courier-Journal, February 15, 1948)

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(Louisville Courier-Journal, April 29, 1949)

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SARA MARTIN & HER JUG BAND: I’m Gonna Be a Lovin’ Old Soul

New York: September 1924
Okeh 8211 (mx. S 72837-b)

Clifford Hayes, violin; Curtis Hayes, banjo; Earl McDonald, jug

 

Highlights from the Pathe Records Catalog (August 1916)

From the Bill Bryant papers at Mainspring Press. Note the issue by Rector’s New York Dance Orchestra (Leopold Kohls, director), which is missing from American Dance Bands on Records and Film. A bit of trivia for the organ fans out there, from a page not pictured: Pathé’s “exclusive” studio organ was a Mason & Hamlin (a popular line of reed organs), model not mentioned.

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Collectors’ Corner • Some March Finds (Fletcher Henderson, Sammy Stewart, William Haid, Wendell Hall, Bob Deikman)

After a sluggish start that included plowing through more red-label Columbias, etc., than anyone should ever have to, March ended with some nice finds from a collector who’s downsizing. If you’re doing the same, and have material of similar quality to dispose of, let us know (top prices paid for top records, if needed for the collection; true E- or better, on the VJM scale, with strong V+ the minimum acceptable grade except in rare cases). Here are a few favorites from the new batch:
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FLETCHER HENDERSON & HIS ORCHESTRA: You’ve Got to Get Hot  [EE-]

New York: October 1923
Vocalion 14726 (mx. 12199)

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FLETCHER HENDERSON & HIS ORCHESTRA: Charleston Crazy  [E]

New York: November 1923
Vocalion 14726 (mx. 12376)

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SAMMY STEWART & HIS ORCHESTRA: Copenhagen  [E-]

Chicago: September 1924
Paramout 20359 (mx. 1891-1)

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WILLIAM HAID: Shim-Sha-Wabble [sic] & I’ll See You in My Dreams  [V+]

Marsh Laboratories, Chicago: c. January 1925
Autograph unnumbered (mx. 701)

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WENDELL HALL: Hot Feet  [E-]

New York: March 29, 1927
Champion 15295 (Gennett mx. GEX-561)

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BOB DEIKMAN’S ORCHESTRA (as Grandview Inn Orchestra): Roll Up the Carpets  [E]

Richmond, IN: December 25, 1927
Champion 15401 (Gennett mx. GEX-991)

Antique Phonograph Ephemera • 1904 Zonophone Gatefold Card

From the 1904 transitional period, soon after the Universal Talking Machine had been purchased by Victor’s Eldridge R. Johnson but was still marketing its own (pre-Victor) phonographs. The “Zonophone Company” name on the inner panel was used only briefly, dating this piece to fairly early in the year. (Many thanks, Jorge – I owe you a finder’s fee!)

Mainspring’s American Zonophone discographical data — now including all general-catalog 7″, 9″, 10″, 11″, and 12″ pressings — can be found on the free Discography of American Historical Recordings website, hosted by the University of California–Santa Barbara. If you prefer books, Bill Bryant’s 10″ / 12″ American Zonophone discography is still available on the  Mainspring Press website at special close-out pricing (but quantities are very limited).

Mainspring Press Updates (Feb-March 2018): Leeds & Catlin Online Database / American Records Companies & Producers 1888-1950

Leeds & Catlin Database Going to DAHR in March

Our Leeds & Catlin database is going to the University of California Barbara–Santa Barbara in March, to be incorporated in their free online Discography of Historical American Recordings. It includes all the latest updates to Leeds Records: A History and Discography (now out of print). Watch for the online release later this year.

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Nearing Completion:

American Record Companies and Producers, 1888–1950: An Encyclopedic History

Approx. 780 pages (hardcover)
Release date, imprint, and price to be announced

 

American Record Companies and Producers 1888–1950 covers all producers of original recordings for the retail, subscription, and jukebox markets in detail — from the dawn of the wax-cylinder era through the advent of the LP, from the behemoths to the smallest and most obscure. (Not covered are companies that produced only reissues, children’s records, or pressings from imported masters; personal recordings; promo and one-off labels, etc).

The book is based on reliable primary-source materials (100% Wikipedia-free), including company and legal documents, original recording and production files, trade-press and newspaper reports, accounts of the persons involved, etc. — all fully cited. Anecdotal accounts, when they appears at all, are clearly identified as such.

The work differs from our earlier American Record Labels and Companies in that it is organized by companies or producers rather than by label names. So, for example, you will still find all the information you need on the Black Swan label under the Pace Phonograph Corporation entry, or on the Phono-Cut and Colonial labels under the Boston Talking Machine Company entry. There will be a label index (in addition to general topic and song title indexes) to help you navigate.

Being primarily a business history, the book does not have label illustrations; however, we are looking into the possibility of having a label DVD produced as a stand-alone product at some point, if there is sufficient interest.

 

The following 1,000+ entries are now complete; the remainder (not listed here) are in final fact-checking and editing:

 

A:  •  A-1 Records of America  •  Abbey Record Corporation / Abbey Records, Inc. / Peter Doraine, Inc.  •  Ace Record Company  •  Acme Radio & Record Corporation, et al.  •  Admiral Records, Inc. / Adam Records, Inc.  •  Advance Records  •  Adventure Record Company / Adventure Records, Inc.  •  Advertiser Publishing Company, Ltd.  •  Advertisers Recording Service, Inc.  •  Aeolian Company, The  •  Aetna Music Corporation  •  Aguila Record Manufacturing Company  •  Alabama Phonograph Company  •  Aladdin Records  •  Alben Record Company  •  Alco Recording Company  •  Alco Research & Engineering Company  •  Alert Records, Inc.  •  Alegene Sound & Radio Company / Algene Recording Studios  •  Allegro Records  •  Allender Record Distributors  •  Allied (Phonograph and) Record Manufacturing Company  •  Allied Recording Company  •  Alpha Records, Inc.  •  Alvin Records  •  Am Records / American Music  •  Ambassador Records / Ambassador-Enterprise Records, Inc.  •  American Elite, Inc.  •  American Graphophone Company  •  American Institute of Music–Arts & Drama  •  American Jazz, Inc.  •  American Odeon Corporation  •  American Phonograph Company  •  American Phonograph Record Company  •  American Record Company [I]  •  American Record Company [II]  •  American Record Corporation  •  American Record Manufacturing Company [I]  •  American Recording & Transcription Service  •  American Recording Artists / ARA Records  •  American Recording Company  •  American Recording Laboratories  •  American Talking Machine Company [I]  •  American Talking Machine Company [II]  •  American Vitaphone Company  •  Americana Records  •  Americana Records Company  •  Amigo Music Publishing Company / Ansa Records  •  Ammor Record Corporation / Ammor Record Company  •  Amuke Record Company  •  Angelico Company / Angelophone Records  •  Apex Recording Laboratory  •  Apex Recording Studios  •  Apollo Record Company  •  Apollo Music Enterprises / Apollo Records, Inc. / Rainbow Record Shop  •  Appliances Company, The  •  Arcadia Records & Transcription Company, Inc.  •  Arco Records [I]  •  Arco Records [II]  •  Arden Recording Company  •  Ardene Record Company  •  Arista Record Corporation  •  Aristocrat Record Corporation  •  Arrow Phonograph Corporation  •  Art Service Music  •  Artist Records, Inc.  •  Artistic Records  •  Artists Music Corporation  •  Arto Company, The  •  Arvid Records, Inc.  •  Asa Records  •  Asch Recording Studios / Asch Records  •  Associated Cinema Studios  •  Associated Studios Broadcasting & Recording  •  Atlas Record Company  •  Atlantic Records  •  Atomic Record Company / Atomic, Inc.  •  Atwood–Herscher Publications / Harry G. Atwood Enterprises  •  Auburn Button Works  •  Audeon Corporation  •  Audience Records, Inc.  •  Audio Company of America / ACA Recording Studios, Inc.  •  Austin, Gene, Record Company  •  Autograph Records  •  Avalon Record Company  •  Ayo Records

B:   B. J. Exploitation Company  •  Bacchanal Recordings, Inc.  •  Bachman Studio  •  Bacigalupi, Peter (& Son)  •  Baldwin Recording Studios, Inc.  •  Balkan Record Company  •  Ballen Record Company / Gotham Record Corporation  •  Bandwagon Records, Inc. / Bennett Records  •  Banner Records, Inc.  •  Barthel Records / Barthel, Inc.  •  Bartlett, Ray  •  Batt Masian Company  •  Bee Bee Bee Records  •  Belgian Conservatory of Music, Inc.  •  Bell Record Company / Bell Record Corporation  •  Bell Record Company, Ltd.  •  Bell Recording Corporation  •  Bell Records, Inc.  •  Bel-Tone Recording Corporation  •  Beltone Recording Corporation  •  Berliner, Emile: American Gramophone Company / United States Gramophone Company / Berliner Gramophone Company  •  Besa Records  •  Bethlehem Music Company / Bethlehem Recording Laboratory  •  Bettini Phonograph Laboratory  •  Bibletone  •  Big Nickel Records  •  Black & White Records / Black & White Recording Company  •  Blue Chip Records  •  Blue Danube Records  •  Blu-Disc Record Company  •  Blue Bonnet Music Company  •  Blue Label Records  •  Blue Note Records  •  Blue Record Company  •  Blue Ribbon Music Company / Blue Ribbon Records  •  Blue Star Records  •  Blu-White Record Company, Ltd.  •  Boney Records  •  Bongo Record Company  •  Bop Records  •  Bornand Music Box Record Company  •  Bost Records Company  •  Boston Talking Machine Company  •  Boswell, D. E. & Company  •  Bourne, C. H.,  Recording Company  •  Bradley, Richard, & Associates  •  Bridgeport Die & Machine Company  •  Brinckerhoff & Company, Inc. / Brinckerhoff Studios, Inc.–Time Abroad / General Sound Corporation  •  Broadcast Recorders, Inc.  •  Broadcast Recording Studios / Broadcast Records  •  Broadway Records  •  Bronze Recording Studio / Bronze Record & Recording Company  •  Broome, George  •  Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company  •  Brunswick Radio Corporation  •  Brunswick Record Corporation     •  Bullet Recording & Transcription Company / Bullet Plastics / Bulleit Enterprises, Inc.  •  Burke & Rous  •  Burt (Manufacturing) Company

C:  C & S Phonograph Record Company  •  Cadet Record Company  •  Cadillac Record Company [I]  •  Cadillac Record Company [II]  •  California Record (Manufacturing) Company  •  California Recording Company  •  Cameo Record Corporation  •  Canzonet Record Company  •  Capital Sound Studios  •  Capitol Records, Inc.  •  Capitol Roll & Record Company  •  Capri Records  •  Cardinal Records, Inc  .  •  Ca-Song Record Corporation / Auto-Photo Record Company  •  Case Recording Company  •  Castle Record Company  •  Castle Records, Inc. [I]  •  Castle Records, Inc. [II]  •  Cavalcade Music Company  •  Cavalier Recording Company  •  Celesta Records Company  •  Celps Record (& Supply) Company  •  Celtic Record Company, Inc.  •  Central Nebraska Phonograph Company  •  Champion Record Company  •  Champion Recording Corporation  •  Chance Record Company  •  Changer Publications, Inc.  •  Charm Records, Inc.  •  Charles Eckart Company, The  •  Cherokee Record Company  •  Chicago Central Phonograph Company  •  Chicago Gramophone Society  •  Chicago Record Company  •  Chicago Recording Studios, Inc.  •  Chicago Talking Machine Company  •  Chief Record Company  •  Cincinnati Record Manufacturing Company  •  Circle Records / Circle Sound, Inc.  •  Clano, J. & J. / Verdi Music Shops (E. E. Verdi)  •  Clark Phonograph Record Company  •  Clarion Record Company  •  Clarion Record Manufacturing Company, Inc. / Clarion Records, Inc.  •  Classic Record Company  •  Claude Record Company  •  Clef Records, Inc.  •  Clipper Records  •  Clover Records Company, Ltd.  •  Club Records  •  Co-Art Records Company  •  Coast Record (Manufacturing) Company / Charles E. Washburn Company  •  Cobra Records  •  Coleman Recording Company / Coleman Records, Inc.  •  Collectors Items, Inc.  •  Colorado Phonograph Company / Colorado & Utah Phonograph Company  •  Columbia Phonograph Company & Related Companies: American Graphophone Company / Columbia Phonograph Company, General / Columbia Graphophone Company / Columbia Graphophone Manufacturing Company / Columbia Phonograph Company, Inc. •  Columbia Recording Corporation / Columbia Records, Inc. [CBS]  •  Comar Records  •  Comet, Inc.  •  Commodore Music Shop / Commodore Record Co., Inc.  •  Compo Company, Ltd. / H. S. Berliner Recording Laboratories (New York)  •  Command Records  •  Compass Record Company  •  Concert Hall Society, Inc.  •  Concert Music Shop, Inc.  •  Concert Phonograph Record Company, Inc.  •  Consolidated Film Industries  •  Consolidated Phonograph Companies, Ltd.  •  Consolidated Record(ing) Corporation / Consolidated Recording Laboratories  •  Continental Phonograph & Record Company  •  Continental Record Company, Inc.  •  Cook Laboratories  •  Cormac Records  •  Corona Records  •  Coronet Records  [I]  •  Coronet Records (Inc.)  [II]  •  Cosmo Records, Inc.  •  Courtney Records  •  Cova Recording Corporation  •  Covered Wagon Records, Inc.  •  Cowboy Record Company  •  Cozy Records  •  Crescent Record Company  •  Criterion Laboratories / Criterion Records, Inc.  •  Crown Record Company  •  Crown Record Corporation [I]  •  Crown Records [I]  •  Crown Records [ II ] / Crown Recording Corporation  •  Crystal Recording Studio  •  Crystal-Tone Record Company  •  Crystalette Records of California / Crystalette Records, Inc.  •  Cudahy Recording Corporation  •  Cyclone Records, Inc.

D:   Damon Recording Studios, Inc. / Damon Transcription Laboratory & Sound Service  •  Dana Records, Inc. / Dana Music Company  •  Danceland Record Company  •  Dance-Tone Record Company / Dance-Tone Records, Inc.  •  Dansrite Record Company  •  Davis, Joe: Beacon Record Company / Celebrity Records / Joe Davis Record Company / Davis Record Corporation / Jay-Dee Records  •  DC Records  •  De Luxe Record Company, Inc.  •  Decca Records, Inc.  •  Delmac Record Company  •  Delray Recording Company / Paradise Recording Company  •  Delvar Recording Company  •  Derby Records Corporation  •  D-H Recording Company  •  Dial Records  •  Diamond Record Company, Inc.  •  Diamond Record Corporation  •  Disco Recording Company, Inc.  •  Disco Recording Studios / Disco Recordings  •  Discos Azteca  •  Discovery Records, Inc.  •  Dixie Records  •  Dolphin, John: Dolphin’s of Hollywood / Recorded in Hollywood, et al.  •  Dome Records (Inc.)  •  Domestic Talking Machine Corporation  •  Domino Phonograph Corporation  •  Domino Records  •  Donett Hit Record Company  •  Dot Records  •  Down Home Corporation  •  Down Home Record Company  •  Down River Records  •  Dudley Records  •  Duke Record Company  •  Duplex Phonograph Company  •  Durium Products Corporation / Durium Products, Inc.

E:   Eagle Record Company / ABC-Eagle Records  •  Early American Dances  •  Eastern Pennsylvania Phonograph Company  •  Ebony Records  •  Echo Recording Company  •  Echo Records  [I]  •  Eddie’s Records  •  Edison Phonograph Company / Edison Phonograph Works  •  Edison Phonograph Company of Ohio  •  Eily, E. A. Record Company  •  Ekko Recording Corporation  •  Electric Phonograph Corporation  •  Electric Recording Laboratories  •  Electro Broadcasters  •  Electro-Vox Recording Studios  •  Emanon Record Company  •  Embassy Record Company  •  Emerald Record Company  •  Emerson Phonograph Company, Inc.  •  Emerson Recording Laboratories, Inc.  •  Empey Records, Inc.  •  Empire Broadcasting Corporation  •  Empire Record & Music Company  •  Empire Record Company / Empire Record Corporation  •  Empire Recording Studios  •  Encore Record Company  •  Englewood Records  •  Enterprise Records (Inc.)  •  Eslava Recording Company  •  Etna Recording Company, Inc.  •  Everstate Records  •  Everybodys Record, Inc.  •  Excellent Record Corporation  •  Excelsior Phonograph Company / Excelsior & Musical Phonograph Record Company  •  Excelsior Records  •  Exclusive Records  •  Exner Record Company / F. B. Exner

F:   F & P Records  •   Faith Records  •  Famous Record Company  •  Famous Records, Inc.  •  Famous Singers Records, Inc.  •  Fanfare Records  •  Fantasy Records  •  Fargo Records  •  Favorite Recording Company  •  FBC Distributing Company  •  Federal Record Corporation  •  Fentone Enterprises  •  Fine Arts Recording Company  •  Fine Recording Company / Fine Recording Studios  •  Fletcher Record Company, Inc.  •  Flint Records, Inc.  •  Flora Records  •  Florida Phonograph Company  •  Florida Records  •  FM Records / FM Recording Company  •  Folkraft Records  •  Folkways Records & Service Corporation  •  Fortune Records  •  Fox Record Company  •  49th State Hawaii Record Company  •  Frank’s Folk Tune Record Company  •  Fran-Tone Records  •  Freedom Recording Company  •  Franwil Record Company  •  Fraternity Record Company  •  Friends of Recorded Music, The  •  Frontier Records

G:  •  Gaelic (Phonograph) Record Company, Inc.  •  Gala Record Company / Gala Record Corporation  •  Gamut Records  •  Garten, Mauricio (Maurice): Aguila Recording Company / Tri-Color Recording Company  •  Gee Bee Records  •  Geddins, Robert L. (Bob): Big Town Recordings / Down Town Recording, Inc. / Cava-Tone Recording  •  Gem Records, Inc.  •  General Phonograph Corporation  •  Gennett Recording Laboratories / Gennett Records  •  Georgia Phonograph Company  •  G. I. Records, Inc.  •  Gilt-Edge Record Company / 4 Star Record Company, Inc  •  Glenn Wallichs Recording Studios  •  Globe Distributors  •  Globe Phonograph Record Company  •  Globe Record Company [I]  •  Globe Record Company [II]  •  Glo Tone Records  •  Gold Medal Records, Inc.  •  Gold-Rain Recording Company  •  Gold Seal Record Company  •  Gold Tone Record Company  •  Goldband Record Company / Goldband Recording Studio  •  Golden Gate Record Company, Inc.  •  Golden Record Company, Inc.  •  Good Time Jazz  •  Goody Record Corporation / Gotham Record Company  •  Gospel Trumpet Company  •  Gramophone Shop, The  •  Grand Record Company  •  Greater New York Phonograph Company  •  Greek Record Company  •  Green Recording Studios  •  Grecol Enterprises, Inc.  •  Gregory Record Company / Bobby Gregory Records / Cathy–Bobby Gregory Records  •  Grey Gull Records, Inc.  •  Grimes Music Publishers / Clef Publications  •  Guild Records, Inc.  •  Groovy Records  •

H:   H & M Laboratories  •  H. K. S. Publishing Company  •  Hamp-Tone Records, Inc.  •  Handy Record Company  •  Happiness Records  •  Harding, Roger  •  Hardman Record Company  •  Hargail Records  •  Harmonia Record Corporation  •  Harmony Record Company  •  Harmony Recording Laboratories  •  Harmony Records  •  Harms, Kaiser & Hagen  •  Harris Record Company / Harris Recording Laboratories  •  Harry Lim Recordings  •  Harry Smith Recordings  •  Hart-Van Record Recording Company  •  Hatch, Thomas W., Publisher  •  Haven Records, Inc.  •  Hawthorne & Sheble [Manufacturing] Company  •  Headline Record Corporation of New York  •   Herzog, E. T., Recording Company  •  High Time Records  •  Hi-Lite Recording Company  •  Holiday Record Company  •  Holiday Records (of Hollywood)  •  Hollywood Records  •  Hollywood (Phonograph) Record Company  •  Hollywood Recording Company  •  Hollywood Rhythms Record Company  •  Hollywood Star Records  •  Holmes Royal Records Company  •  Hot Record Society / H. R. S. Recordings  •  Houston Records  •  Howard, Mary, Recordings  /  Mary Howard Studios  •    Howard Records, Inc.  •  Hub Records  •  Hucksters Recording Company, Inc.  •  Hunting, Russell  •  Hy-Tone Recording Company / Hy-Tone Manufacturing & Distributing Company

I:   Ideal Record Company, Inc.  •  Ideal Records  •  Idessa Malone Distributors / Idessa Malone Enterprises / Staff Record Company  •  Imperial Record Company [I]  •  Imperial Record Company, Inc.  [II]  •  Imperial Records, Inc.  •  Imperial Talking Machine Company  •  Impresario Records  •  Indestructible Phonographic Record Company  •  Independent Recording Laboratory, Inc.  •  Indigo Recordings, Inc.  •  International Phonograph & Record Company  •  International Record Collectors Club  •  International Record Company [I]  •  International Record Company [II]  •  International Recording Studio  •  International Records  •  International Records Agency  •  Iowa Phonograph Company  •  Island Music & Recording Company  •  Israel Record Company  •  Ivory Recording Company / Ivory Records

J:  J. O. B. Records  •  Jamboree Records, Inc.  •  Jazz Disc  •  Jazz Information Records  •  Jazz Ltd.  •  Jazz Man Record Shop  •  Jazzology Records  •  Jewel Record Company [I]  •  Jewel Record Company [II]  •  Joco Records  •  John Currie Enterprises  •  Jones (Recording) Laboratories / Jones Research Sound Products  •  Jubilee Records Company, Inc. / Jay-Gee Record Company, Inc.  •  Jugoslavia Jewelry & Phonograph Company  •  Juke Box Record Company  •  Jump Records  •  Jupiter Records

K:  •  Kansas City Talking Machine Company  •  Kansas Phonograph Company  •  Kappa Records, Inc.  •  Keen-O-Phone Company, Inc.  •  Keltic Record Corporation  •  Kem Records, Inc.  •  Kentucky Phonograph Company  •  Keynote Records  •  Keystone Records  •  Khoury’s Recordings  •  King Jazz, Inc.  •  King Record Company  •  Kismet Record Company  •  Krantz Records  •  Ku Klux Klan–Affiliated Companies

L:  •  La Bonita Records  •  La Marr Record Company  •  Laborator Ed. Jedlicka  •  Laboratory Association, The  •  Lamb’s Recording Studios  •  Lambert Company, The  •  Lamplighter Records  •  Lark Record Company  •  Lasso Record Company  •  Latin American Records  •  Lauderdale, Jack: Downbeat Recording Company / Swing Beat Records / Swing Time Record Company  •  Laurent Records, Ltd.  •  Lee & Roth Enterprises  •  Lee Sales Company, Inc.  •  Leda Records Company  •  Leeds & Catlin Company  •  Leeds & Company  •  Leslie Records, Inc.  •  Liberty Music Shop(s)  •  Liberty Phonograph Company  •  Liberty Record Company [I] / Blazon Records  •  Liberty Record Company [II]  •  Liberty Recording Company  •  Library of Congress–Division of Music  •  Life Record Company  •  Life Records  •  Lina Records  •  Lincoln, Benjamin  •  Lincoln Record Corporation  •  Lincoln Records, Inc.  •  Linden Recordings / Linden Records  •  Lindwood Recording Company  •  Little Wonder Record Company  •  Lissen Records, Inc.  •  Lloyd’s Novelty & Curio Shop  •  London Gramophone Corporation  •  Lone Star Music Publishers  •  Lone Star Publishing & Recording Company  •  Louisiana Phonograph Company, Ltd.  •  Lucky 7 Recording Company  •  Lyraphone Company of America  •  Lyric Phonograph Company

M:  •  M & S Distributing Company  •  Macy’s Recording Company  •  MacGregor, C. P.: MacGregor & Sollie, Inc. / MacGregor & Ingram Recording Laboratories / MacGregor Transcriptions Studios  •  Maestro Music Company / Maestro Record Company  •  Macksoud, A. J.  •  Magnolia Recording Company  •  Magnolia Records Company, Inc.  •  Main Stem Music Shop  •  Main Street Records  •  Majestic Phonograph Company, Inc. / Majestic Record Corporation  •  Majestic Records, Inc.  •  Major Records  •  Maloof Phonograph Company  •  Manhattan Music Corporation  •  Manhattan Recording Laboratories  •  Manor Record Company  •  Margo Record Company  •  Mar-Kee Records  •  Mars Records  •  Marsh Laboratories, Inc.  •  Marshall, Charles  •  Marshall Record Company  •  Marvel Record Company  •  Marvel Records  •  Master Records, Inc. [I]  •  Master Records [II]  •  Mastertone Record Company, Inc.  •  Maunay Records  •  Mayfair Record & Recording Corporation  •  Melben Records  •  Melford Record Company  •  Mello-Strain Records, Ltd.  •  Mellow Music Shop / Mellow Record Company  •  Mel-Mar Records  •  Melmore, Inc.  •  Melodisc Recording Company  •  Melody Lane Recording Company  •  Melody Moderne, Inc. / Memo Records Corporation  •  Melody Records, Inc.  •  Melody Trail Records  •  Melrose Records  •  Meltzer, Sam  •  Memphis Recording Service / Phillips Recording Service  •  Mercer Records  •  Mercury Record Corporation  •  Merit Records  •  Mertone Recording Company  •  Metro Records (Inc.) [II] / Mero Records, Inc.  •  Metropolitan Phonograph Company  •  Metropolitan Record Company  •  Metrotone Record Company  •  Miller, J. D.  •  Milton, Roy, Record Company  •  M-G-M Records, Inc. / Loew’s, Inc.  •  Michigan Phonograph Company  •  Mida Record Company  •  Midget Music, Inc. / Midget Music Productions / Fidelity Records [I]  •  Miller Publications, Inc.  •  Minnesota Phonograph Company  •  Miracle Record Company  •  Mirror Recordings  •  Missouri Phonograph Company  •  Modern Music Records / Modern Records  •  Modern Record Company  •  Modern Recording Studio  •  Monarch Records, Inc.  •  Monroe, John  •  Montana Phonograph Company  •  Mood Records  •  Morrison Music Company  •  Motif Record Manufacturing Company  •  Movietone Music Corporation  •  Murray Singer Records  •  Music Art Records  •  Music Enterprises, Inc.  •  Music For Society Record Company  •  Music, Inc.  •  Music-Mart Records  •  Music on Parade Records  •  Music You Enjoy, Inc.  •  Musical Phonograph Record Company  •  Musicraft Records / Musicraft (Recording) Corporation  •  Mutual Records  •  Muzak (Transcriptions), Inc. / Muzak Corporation / Associated Music Publishers Recording Studios  •  Myers, J. W.,  Standard Phonograph Record Company

N:   National Phonograph Company  •  National Record Company  •  National Records Company  •  National Vocarium, The  •  Nation’s Forum  •  Natural Hit Record Company, A  •  Nebraska Phonograph Company  •  New England Phonograph Company  •  New Jazz Record Company / Prestige Records  •  New Jersey Phonograph Company  •  New Music Quarterly Recordings  •  New Orleans Bandwagon  •  New Orleans Record Shop  •  New York Phonograph Company  •  New York Phonograph Recording Company  •  New York Recording Laboratories  •  Newark Recording Laboratories  •  Night Music Recording Company  •  Norcross Phonograph Company  •  Nordskog Phonograph Recording Company  •  North American Phonograph Company  •  North American Recording Company  •  Notary Records, Inc.  •  Numelody Records  •  Nutmeg Record Corporation

O:   O’Byrne De Witt, E. (& Son[s]) / O’Byrne Dewitt, James, Inc.  •  O’Dowd, Thomas  •  Ohio Phonograph Company  •  Ohio Talking Machine Company  •  Okeh Phonograph Corporation  •  Oklahoma Tornado Recording Company  •  Old Dominion Phonograph Company  •  Oliver Record Company  •  Olympic Disc Record Corporation  •  Opera Record Company / Opera Recording Company  •  Opera Records  •  Operaphone Company, Inc. / Operaphone Manufacturing Corporation  •  Opus Records  •  Ora Nelle Record Company  •  Orchid Record Corporation  •  Orchid Records & Publications  •  Oriole Records Corporation  •  Orpheum Record Company  •  Orpheus Record & Transcription Company  •  Otto Heineman Phonograph Supply Company, Inc.

P:   Pace Phonograph Corporation  •  Pacemaker Record & Transcription Company  •  Pacific Record Company  •  Pacific Phonograph Agency / Pacific Phonograph Company  •  Page Recording Company  •  Palda Record Company  •  Pan-American Publications / Pan-Am Transcriptions  •  Pan-American Record Company / Birwell Corporation  •  Panhellenion Phonograph Record Company, Inc. / Panhellenic Record Company  •  Parade Record Company  •  Paradox Industries, Inc.  •  Paragon Records, Inc.  •  Paramount Record Manufacturing (& Recording) Company  •  Paramount Records  •  Parsekian, M. G.  •  Parkway Records  •  Parody Records  •  Paroquette Record Manufacturing Company, Inc.  •  Party Record Company  •  Pathé Frères Phonograph Company  •  Pathé Phonograph & Radio Corporation  •  Paull, E. T. Music Company  •  Pavilon Recording Company  •  Peacock Recording Company  •  Peak Records, Inc.  •  Pearl Records  •  Pearson’s Productions, Inc.  •  Penguin Recording Corporation  •  People’s Artists, Inc.  •  People’s Songs  •  Perfect Record Company  •  Phamous Records  •  Pharos Record Company  •  Philadelphia Recording Laboratories  •  Philmos Recording Company  •  Philo Recordings  •  Phoenix Publications & Recordings  •  Phonograph Record & Supply Company  •  Phonograph Recording Company  •  Photo & Sound, Inc.  •  Phototone Records  •  Pilot Radio Company / Pilot Radio Corporation  •  Pioneer Recording Company  •  Pix Records  •  Planet Record Company  •  Plaza Music Company  •  Pleasant Records  •  Plymouth Recording Company  •  Polo Record Corporation  •  Polonia Phonograph Company  •  Poloron Records  •  Polotone Music Corporation  •  Polyphone Company, The / Talking Machine Company, The  •  Popular Record Company  •  Premier Radio Enterprises, Inc. / Premier Records  •  Premier Record Company  •  Premium Record Corporation  •  President Records  •  Preview Records  •  Process Record Company  •  Prudentia Records  •  Public Records, Inc.  •  Pyramid Record Company / Pyramid Records

Q:   Q. R. S. Company  •  Quaker Music Company  •  Quality Records, Inc.  •  Quinn Recording Company / Gold Star Records Records

R:   Rabson’s  •  Radio Corporation of America–RCA Victor Division  •  Radio Recorders, Inc.  •  Radio-Rundfunk Corporation / Europa Import Company  •  Radio Transcription Company of America, Ltd.  •  Ragtime Records  •  Rainbow Records, Inc. / Rainbow Recording Corporation  •  Rancho Records  •  Rapoport, Maurice A.: Metro Records [I] / Rex Records / Rem Records  •  Raven Recording Company  •  Raymor–McCollister Music / Raymor Record Company  •  Rebelle Records  •  Rec-Art Recordings / Rec-Art Studios  •  Record Manufacturing Company  •  Record Syndicate Trust  •  Red Jay Recording Company  •  Red Bird Recordings  •  Redskin Records  •  Reed & Dawson / Reed, Dawson & Company  •  Reeves Sound Studios / Reeves Soundcraft Corporation  •  Regal Record Company, Inc.  •  Regal Record Corporation  •  Regal Records  •  Regent Records  •  Regis Record Company / Regis Records, Inc.  •  Rego Records  •  Relax Records  •  Religious Recordings  •  Remington Records, Inc.  •  Relax Records  •  Republic Records / Cecille Music Company  •  Rex Talking Machine Corporation  •  Reynard, James Kent  •  Rhapsody Records  [I]  •  Rhapsody Records  [II]  •  Rhumboogie Recording Company  •  Rhythm Records Company  •  Rhythm Recordings, Inc.  •  Rich Recordings  •  Rich Publications / Rich-Art Enterprises, Inc. / Rich-Art Records  •  Rich-R’-Tone Record Company  •  Richmond Records  •  Richtone Record Company  •  Ringle, David (Dave): Heart Records / Belmont Records, et al. •  RKO Pathe Studios  •  Rivoli Records  •  Rodeheaver, Homer: Rainbow Record Company / Rodeheaver Record Company / Rodeheaver Recording Laboratories  •  Robin Records Company  •  Rocket Record Company  •  Rocket / Rockette Recording Company  •  Rodeo Records  •  Roland Records  •  Rondo Records, Inc.  •  Roost Records, Inc.  •  Rosas Records  •  Rouge Records  •  Roy Records  •  Royal Record Company / Sepia Records, Inc.  •  Royal Records  •  Roycrofters, The  •  ’R-Tist Record Company  •  Rumpus Record Company

S:   S & G Records  •  S. B. W. Recording Company / Carl Sobie Publishing  •  Sacred Records, Inc.  •  Saks Records  •  San Antonio Phonograph Company  •  San Antonio Records, Inc.  •  Sapphire Record & Talking Machine Company  •  Sapphire Record Company  •  Sarco Record Company  •  Savoy Record Company  •  Scandinavian Music Company  •  Scandinavian Music House, Inc.  •  Schirmer Records  •  Schooler Record Company  •  Schooner Records  •  Scoop Record Company [I]  •  Scoop Record Company [II]  •  Scoop Records  •  Scott Record Company  •  Scranton Button Company / Scranton Record Company  •  Sears, Roebuck & Company–Silvertone Record Club  •  Security Records  •  Seeco Records, Inc.  •  Select Records, Inc.  •  Selective Record Company  •  Sellers, Inc. / Sellers Company, The  •  Sensation Record Company  •  Sequoia Record Company  •  Serenade Recording Corporation  •  Session Records, Inc.  •  Seva Record Corporation  •  Seymour Records  •  Sharp Record Company  •  Siemon Hard Rubber Company  •  Signature Record Company / Signature Recording Corporation  •  Silver Records  •  Silver Spur Records  •  Silver Star Record Company  •  Silver Star Recording Company  •  Sittin’ In With Records, Inc.  •  Skyscraper Recording Company  •  Slate Enterprises, Inc.  •  Society Recordings  •  Sokhag Record Company  •  Solo Art Recordings  •  Sonart Record Corporation  •  Songcraft, Inc.  •  Song-of-the-Month Club  •  Sonora Phonograph Company, Inc. / Sonora Phonograph Corporation  •  Sonora Radio & Television Corporation / Sonora Record Company  •  Sonorous Music Company, Inc.  •  Sorority Fraternity Records & Publications / Mayhams & Co-Ed Records  •  South Dakota Phonograph Company  •  Souvenair Records Company  •  Spanish Music Center / Coda Record Company  •  Specialty Record Company, Inc. / Famous Record Company, Inc., of New York  •  Specialty Records  •  Spikes Brothers Phonograph Company  •  Spin Records, Inc.  •  Spire Records Company, Inc.  •  Spire Records, Ltd.  •  Spiro Record Corporation  •  Spokane Phonograph Company  •  Spotlight Records, Inc.  •  Spotlite Record Company  •  Square Deal Recording Company  •  Stanchel Record Company  •  Standard Phonograph Company, Inc. [I]  •  Standard Phono / Phonograph Company, Inc. [II]  •  Stanley Recording Company of America, Inc.  •  Stapleton Industries  •  Star Melodies Music Publishers & Record Producers  •  Star Records  •  Starland Records  •  Starlite Recorders, Inc.  •  Starr Piano Company – Gennett Records Division  •  Starr Record Company  •  State Phonograph Company of Illinois  •  Steiner, John  •  Stellar Records, Inc.  •  Sterling Records, Inc.  •  Stinson Records / Stinson Trading Company  •  Stork Record Company  •  Strong Record Company, Inc.  •  Sullivan Records  •  Sultan Recording Company  •  Sunbeam Recording Company  •  Sunrise Record Corporation  •  Sunset Record Company  •  Sunset Recording Company  •  Sunshine Recording Company / Sunshine Productions & Records  •  Sunstone Record Company  •  Super Discs  •  Superb Record Company  •  Superior Recording Company  •  Supreme Records, Inc.  •  Swan Recording Company, Inc.  •  Sweet-Tone Record Company  •  Swing Record Manufacturing Company  •  Swing with the Stars  •  Sylvan  •  Symphony Records  •  Syrena Recording Company

T:   Talent Records / Star Talent Records  •  Talking Photo Corporation  •  Talk-O-Phone Company, The  •  Tanner Manufacturing & Distributing Company  •  Tara Irish Records  •  Taxco Recording Company  •  Taylor-Lee Recording Company  •  Tech-Art Recordings  •  Technicord Records  •  Tele-Records, Inc.  •  Tempo-Tone Recordings  •  Texstar Records  •  Tempo Record Company of America  •  Tennessee Phonograph Company  •  Tennessee Records  •  Texas Phonograph Company  •  Theme Records  •  Thomas A. Edison, Inc. – Phonograph Division  •  Three Minute Record, Inc.  •  Thrillwood Records  •  Time Abroad, Ltd.  •  Timely Recording Company  •  Tin Pan Alley Records Company  •  Token Records  •  Tone Records  •  Top Record Company / Top Records, Inc.  •  Top Tune Records  •  Tops Music Enterprises / Tops Records  •  Town & Country Record Company, Inc.  •  Trell Records  •  Trilon Record Manufacturing Company  •  Trident Records Corporation  •  Tri-State Recording Company  •  Triumph Records  •  Trope Records  •  Trophy Record Company  •  Tropical Records  •  Tru-Blue Record Company  •  Tru Tone Productions, Inc. / Tru Tone Records, Inc.  •  Trumpis-Collar & Associates  •  Tune-Disk Record Corporation  •  Turntable, The

U:   Ultra Record Company  •  Union of Irish Industries, Inc.  •  Unique Music Publishers & Recording Company  •  Unison Records  •  United Artist Records  •  United Broadcasting Company / Master Record Company  •  United Hebrew Disk & Cylinder Company / United Hebrew Record Company  •  United Masters, Inc.  •  United Sound Studios / United Sound Systems  •  United States Phonograph Company [I]  •  United States Phonograph Company [II]  •  United States Record Corporation  •  United States Record Manufacturing Corporation  •  Unity School of Christianity  •  Universal Phonograph Company  •  Universal Recording Company, Inc.  •  Universal Recording Laboratories / Universal Recording Corporation / Universal Records  •  Universal Recording Studios / Universal Record Company  •  Universal Talking Machine (Manufacturing) Company  •  University Recording Company, Inc.  •  University Records Corporation  •  Uptown Records  •  Urab Recording Studio / United Recording Artists Bureau  •  Urban Record Company

V:   Van-Es Recording Company  •  Vanguard Records  •  Vargo, Inc. / Vargo Record Company  •  Variety Records, Inc.  •  Vaughan, James D., Publisher  •  Vega Records  •  Velvet Record Company  •  Velvet Tone Record Company  •  Verne Recording Corporation of America  •  Victor and Victor Predecessor Companies: Johnson Sound Recording Company / Consolidated Talking Machine Company / Victor Talking Machine Company  •  Victory Records  •  Viking Record Company  •  Vitacoustic Record Company / Vitacoustic Records, Inc  •  Vitanola Talking Machine Company  •  Vocalion Records, Inc.  •  Vogue Recordings, Inc.  •  Von Battle Recording Company  •  Vox Corporation of America  •  Vox Productions, Inc.  •  Vulcan Record Corporation  •  Vulcan Records

W:   W & W Recordings & Distributors  •  Walcutt, Miller & Company / Walcutt & Leeds / The Walcutt & Leeds Ltd.  •  Wallin’s Music Shop  •  Wallis Original Record Company  • Warner, Jesse J.: Flexo Record Company / New Flexo Record Company / Pacific Coast Record Company / Titan Productions, et al.  •  Watch Tower Bible &  Tract Society  •  Webster Records  •  West Coast Phonograph Company  •  West Coast Recordings  •  Western Pennsylvania Phonograph Company  •  Western Records / Western Recording Company  •  Western Recording Company / Constellation Record & Distributing Company  •  Western Recording Studios  •  Wheeling Recording Company  •  Williams & Rankin  •  Williams, J. Mayo: Chicago Records / Ebony Records / Harlem Records / “Ink,” Inc., et al.  •  Whirling Disc  •  White Church Recording Company  •  Willow Walk Industries  •  Winchester Sound  •  Winsett Recording Laboratory  •  Winston Holmes Music Company  •  Wisconsin Phonograph Company  •  Wonder Records  •  WOR Electrical Recording &  Transcription Services / WOR Recording Studios  •  World Broadcasting System, Inc. / World Transcription Studios  •  World Records, Inc.  •  World’s Greatest Music  •  Wright Record Corporation  •  Wrightman, Neale: Neale Wrightman Publishers / Wrightman Music, Inc. / Wrightman Record Company / Wrimus Company  •  Wyoming Phonograph Company

Y:   Yaddo Recordings  •  Yale Record Company  •  Yerkes Recording Laboratories  •  Your Record Company

Z:   Zarvah Art Record Company  •  Zomar, Karl, Library / Columbine Records  •  Zora Recording Studios

 

“Pre-Ledger” Starr / Gennett Recording Dates and Locations (1915 – 1922)

“Pre-Ledger” Starr / Gennett Recording Dates and Locations
(1915 – 1922)
By Allan Sutton

 

Much of the Starr Piano Company’s original documentation of Gennett records has survived, beginning with some 1921 sessions. What happened to the earlier materials is anyone’s guess; they’ve been missing for as long as anyone can remember.

In the absence of primary-source documentation, discographers have naturally guessed at recording dates and locations for the “pre-ledger” masters — some quite accurately, many others not even in the ballpark. Good or bad, those guesses have become entrenched as “fact,” and the picture gets increasingly muddled as others take a stab at things. Happily, it’s not a particularly difficult situation to sort out, given the amount of solid information on these records that exists in Mainspring’s archives.

This article is based upon the extensive data relating to Gennett’s 1915–1922 output that was compiled by members of the Record Research group (Walter C. Allen, Len Kunstadt, Carl Kendziora, et al.) and other trusted sources over many decades. The information that appears here comes from their first-hand inspection of the original records, coupled with corollary evidence gathered from release lists and trade-paper reports of the period, plus the occasional dated test pressing. Anecdotal accounts and most published discographies were disregarded, a wise decision that eliminated much unnecessary confusion and misinformation from the outset.

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VERTICAL-CUT MASTER SERIES

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(Left) The original Starr label design. Masters on this issue were recorded in the Richmond studio by Weber’s Prize Band, a Cincinnati group. (Right) A late Starr issue, redesigned to match the new Gennett label, using masters from the New York studio. (From American Record Labels and Companies: An Encyclopedia, 1891–1943, by Allan Sutton & Kurt Nauck)

 
100 SERIES – New York (c. Mid 1915 – Early 1916)

The earliest known Starr master series, from a New York studio. This was not necessarily Gennett’s own facility. Harry Gennett reported in October 1915 that a studio had not yet been opened in Richmond, and he made no reference to a New York studio, which probably explains the series’ abrupt abandonment in early 1916, when Gennett opened his own studio. (Gennett is known to have purchased the Phono-Cut masters, raising the possibility that these recordings might have been made on old Boston Talking Machine Company equipment — an intriguing area for future research.) Popular-song titles in the series are early 1915 – early 1916 publications. The highest numbers identified thus far are 172 (by Byron G. Harlan) and 173 (by an unidentified vocalist), both of which survive as test pressings. An unrelated lateral-cut 100 series was used in the early 1920s for some personal recordings.)

 

5000 SERIES – New York and Richmond, Indiana
(May 1916 – Early 1917)

Introduction of this series corresponds to the opening of Starr Piano’s Richmond studio in early 1916 and the expansion of its recording operation under the management of R. C. Mayer. It marks the first appearance of Richmond-studio masters, which are intermixed with New York recordings. The first (#5000, “Smiles and Caresses,” by the Starr Trio) exists as a test pressing, dated May 16, 1916. The lower-numbered masters were recorded in Richmond by regional artists, including John W. Dodd and Elizabeth Schiller (Indianapolis); John C. Weber’s Prize Band of America (Cincinnati); and Harry Maxwell, Roy Parks, and Harry Frankel (Richmond). Frankel (a.k.a. “Singin’ Sam” in later years) was a Starr Piano Company employee at the time, and he continued to be associated with the company in various roles into the 1930s.

At approximately #5180, the usual New York studio free-lancers begin to appear in this series (including Vernon Dalhart, Arthur Collins, Byron G. Harlan, and Sybil Sanderson Fagan), along with the Richmond-studio artists. The highest-numbered masters for which data is confirmed feature late-1916 song titles. The 5000s were replaced by a new 1000 series in early 1917.

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(Left) The first Gennett label design, introduced in October 1917. The Gennett and Starr labels were produced simultaneously for a short time before the latter was discontinued. (Right) The familiar scroll design initially was reserved exclusively for the expensive Gennett Art Tone series. (ARLAC)

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1000 SERIES – New York (Mid-1917 – Late 1918)

The Richmond studio appears to have been mothballed at this point. Aside from Strickland Gillilan and Weber’s Prize Band (who are known to have performed in New York), the Richmond-studio artists no longer appear in this series. (Commercial recording resumed in Richmond in the summer of 1921; see Special and 11000 series, below.) The first confirmed example of a Starr master being used on a client label appears in this series, on the anomalous Rishell 1509 (a label normally supplied by Pathé, Rex, and Okeh).

The earliest 1000-series masters were released in July 1917, suggesting they were recorded from late April to late May. The Gennett label was introduced in October 1917 and soon supplanted Starr, but the original Starr master series remained in use. Popular-song titles on the highest-numbered 1000-series masters are late 1918 publications, which corresponds with the beginning of Gennett’s conversion to the lateral cut.

PHONO-CUT MASTERS (~ 500 – 1000 Range) – New York (1911 – 1912)

Phono-Cut masters from the defunct Boston Talking Machine Company were reissued on Starr’s early vertical-cut Remington discs. Confirmed examples range from #634 (“Maritana Overture” by Fred Hager’s Band, which was credited to the Colonial Military Band on the original Phono-Cut labels) to #1081 (Massenet’s “Elegie,” by violinist Sylvain Noack). Thus far, we’ve received no reports from reliable sources of Phono-Cut masters having appeared on the Starr label. Starr test pressings exist of several 500-series vertical-cut masters, which are suspected Phono-Cut recordings but thus far have not been confirmed as such.

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EARLY LATERAL-CUT MASTER SERIES

 

(Left) An early lateral-cut pressing from imported Edison Bell masters. (Right) The second incarnation of Starr’s Remington label (apparently a custom product) used masters from a lateral-cut 100 series that was used briefly for personal recordings. The earlier, vertical-cut Remington label used some old Phono-Cut masters. (ARLAC)

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6000 / 6500 and 7000 SERIES – New York  (1919 – 1922)

Gennett’s first lateral-cut master series (6000s and 7000s for 10”, 6500s for 12”), allocated to the New York studio. The earliest were listed in March 1919 for April release, suggesting January–February 1919 (or perhaps very late 1918) as the start of lateral recording.

Gennett ledgers survive for the New York masters beginning with # 7736, which was received in Richmond on January 25, 1922. This series remained in use by Gennett’s New York studio through March 1, 1926, ending at #9999. At that point, a new series was begun at X-1. The X- prefix was changed to GEX- in the autumn of 1926 (with occasional variations, including BEX-, EX-, HAX-, and WEX- that are beyond the scope of this article).

SPECIAL SERIES — Richmond (1921)

A test series, made in conjunction with the reopening of Gennett’s Richmond studio for commercial recording. Confirmed master numbers range from 1 (July 21, 1921) through 16 (September 3, 1921) and include recordings by Harry Gennett, Fred Gennett Jr., Fred G. Mayer, and Harry Frankel, all Starr Piano Company  employees. None are known to have been issued, but a test pressing exists of Fred Gennett Jr’s “Dickey Bean Soup” (which was not assigned a master number).

11000 SERIES — Richmond (From August 1921)

Commercial recording resumed in Richmond on August 20, 1921, at which time a separate 11000 master series was allocated to the studio. The first commercial session was by Homer Rodeheaver and Virginia Asher on August 20, followed on August 24 by the omnipresent Harry Frankel. Gennett documentation survives for all 11000-series masters, although the earliest is rather sketchy.

The Richmond master series (which also covered recordings made in Chicago, Cincinnati, Birmingham, the Grand Canyon, and other locations) continued unbroken to #19997, in January 1939, by which time the company was producing mainly sound-effects and special-use recordings.

Other documented Richmond master series include the K- prefixed series of 1924 (containing a mixture of Ku Klux Klan material; tests for the Vaughan label,and unissued private recordings by Fred Gennett Jr. and other locals); an 11B00 series (not a mistaken entry for 11800) allocated to Vaughan in the mid-1920s; and a 61000 series used for radio transcriptions and other special-use recordings beginning in 1934.

100 SERIES — Richmond (Early 1920s)

Not to be confused with the earlier vertical-cut 100s, this series was used briefly for personal recordings.

85000 CONTROL SERIES — Assigned in Richmond (Mid 1920s)

Not true master numbers, these were “control” numbers assigned to masters obtained from outside sources, including Rodeheaver Laboratories, Marsh Laboratories, and the New York Recording Laboratories. Data on these recordings does not appear in the surviving Gennett documentation.

LICENSED FOREIGN MASTERS (Early 1920s)

Gennett leased foreign masters from Edison Bell in the early 1920s, including recordings by Billy Whitlock, Pamby Dick, Olly Oakley, H.M. Scots Guard Band, and other popular British artists. Most recordings are from the mid-to-late ‘teens, with master numbers ranging from the 100s to 1700s (with a few outliers that might be from other sources), and they usually show an “X” in the wax. Data on these recordings does not appear in the surviving Gennett documentation.

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© 2017 by Allan R. Sutton. All rights are reserved.

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