Louis Alter was an American pianist and composer. Alter was 13, he studied at the New England Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of Stuart Mason. He was born on June 1902, in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Alter played in vaudeville houses as the accompanist for headliners Irène Nora Bayes, he appeared with Bayes from 1924 until her death in 1928, touring the United States and abroad. Since he had written some songs for Broadway shows, Alter decided to concentrate on songwriting after Bayes' death, his first hit was "Manhattan Serenade" an instrumental that became the theme music of the Easy Aces radio program. There are numerous recordings of "Manhattan Serenade," and it was featured prominently in Nancy Groce's book, New York: Songs of the City. Alter recalled: I was a great fan of Whiteman when I first came down here from Boston, he was the first big name I followed around and met. I was having a love affair with New York. I sounds, and suddenly it came to me. Once I plunged into it I finished it in two hours.
In 1929, Alter moved to Hollywood, where he wrote songs for films, beginning with The Hollywood Review of 1929, he continued to provide piano accompaniment for various singers, including Beatrice Lillie and Helen Morgan. His contributions to Broadway musicals included songs in Low and Ballyhoo, his first song hit was "Hugs and Kisses" in 1926. In 1928, Alter wrote the lyrics of Paris. Other top tunes by Alter include "My Kinda Love," "You Turned the Tables on Me," "Nina Never Knew," "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans", "Blue Shadows" and "Rainbow on the River." He wrote "A Melody from the Sky" and "Twilight on the Trail" for The Trail of the Lonesome Pine. His collaborators included Oscar Hammerstein II, Charlotte Kent, Raymond Klages, Sidney D. Mitchell, Jo Trent. In 1941, Alter signed on with the United States Air Force, performing for troops and coordinating shows and other entertainment at various West Coast air bases; as a piano soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, he performed at the Hollywood Bowl.
In 1942, "Manhattan Serenade" once again became a hit. Alter composed large-scale pieces for piano and orchestra, including American Serenade and Metropolitan Nocturne. In years, Alter lived in New York and maintained a summer residence on Fire Island. Twice nominated for Academy Awards, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1975, he died on November 5, 1980 at age 78, of pneumonia at Saint Clare's Hospital in Manhattan, New York City. After Hurricane Katrina, his song "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans" took on a different kind of meaning in 2005–06 and experienced a revival due to its use in various post-Katrina documentary films and TV shows, it was used for strong emotional effect in Spike Lee's four-hour When the Levees Broke and an moving dramatic sketch by Billy Crystal on HBO's Comic Relief 2006. American Serenade Jewels from Cartier Suite Manhattan Masquerade Manhattan Moonlight Metropolitan Nocturne Side Street in Gotham "Manhattan Serenade" "Blue Shadows" "Circus".
Alter wrote the song with lyrics by Bob Russell for a party for John Ringling North, head of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. "Dolores" "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans" "Give Trouble the Air" "Hugs and Kisses" "Manhattan Serenade" "A Melody from the Sky" "My Kinda Love" "Nina Never Knew" "Rainbow on the River" "You Turned the Tables on Me" Jazz violinist John Frigo playing Louis Alter's "Nina Never Knew" Tommy Dorsey: "Manhattan Serenade" Louis Alter at the Songwriters Hall of Fame Louis Alter at the Internet Broadway Database Louis Alter on IMDb
John Herndon Mercer was an American lyricist and singer. He was a record label executive who co-founded Capitol Records with music industry businessman Buddy DeSylva and Glenn E. Wallichs, he is best known as a Tin Pan Alley lyricist, but he composed music. He was a popular singer who recorded his own songs as well as songs written by others. From the mid-1930s through the mid-1950s, many of the songs Mercer wrote and performed were among the most popular hits of the time, he wrote the lyrics including compositions for movies and Broadway shows. He received nineteen Academy Award nominations, won four Best Original Song Oscars. Mercer was born in Georgia, his father, George Anderson Mercer, was a prominent attorney and real-estate developer, his mother, Lillian Elizabeth, George Mercer's secretary and second wife, was the daughter of a Croatian immigrant father and a mother with Irish ancestry. Lillian's father was a merchant seaman who ran the Union blockade during the U. S. Civil War. Mercer was George's fourth son, first by Lillian.
His great-grandfather was Confederate General Hugh Weedon Mercer and he was a direct descendant of American Revolutionary War General Hugh Mercer, a Scottish soldier-physician who died at the Battle of Princeton. Mercer was a distant cousin of General George S. Patton; the construction of Mercer House in Savannah was started by General Hugh Weedon Mercer in 1860. Neither the General, nor Mercer himself lived there, his mother's father was born in Lastovo, Croatia in 1834 to mother Ivana Cucevic and father Marijo Dundovic. Mercer liked music as a small child and attributed his musical talent to his mother, who would sing sentimental ballads. Mercer's father sang old Scottish songs, his aunt told him he was humming music when he was six months old and she took him to see minstrel and vaudeville shows where he heard "coon songs" and ragtime. The family's summer home "Vernon View" was on the tidal waters and Mercer's long summers there among mossy trees, saltwater marshes, soft, starry nights inspired him years later.
Mercer's exposure to black music was unique among the white songwriters of his generation. As a child, Mercer had African-American playmates and servants, he listened to the fishermen and vendors about him, who spoke and sang in the dialect known as "Geechee", he was attracted to black church services. Mercer stated, "Songs always fascinated me more than anything." He had no formal musical training but was singing in a choir by six and at 11 or 12 he had memorized all of the songs he had heard and became curious about who wrote them. He once asked his brother who the best songwriter was, his brother said Irving Berlin, among the best of Tin Pan Alley. Despite Mercer's early exposure to music, his talent was in creating the words and singing, not in playing music, though early on he had hoped to become a composer. In addition to the lyrics that Mercer memorized, he wrote adventure stories, his attempts to play the trumpet and piano were not successful, he never could read musical scores with any facility, relying instead on his own notation system.
As a teenager in the Jazz Era, he was a product of his age. He hunted for records in the black section of Savannah and played such early black jazz greats as Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, his father owned the first car in town, Mercer's teenage social life was enhanced by his driving privilege, which sometimes verged on recklessness. The family would motor to the mountains near Asheville, North Carolina to escape the Savannah heat and there Mercer learned to dance and to flirt with Southern belles, his natural sense of rhythm helping him on both accounts. Mercer wrote a humorous song called "Arthur Murray Taught Me Dancing in a Hurry". Mercer attended the exclusive Woodberry Forest School in Virginia until 1927. Although not a top student, he was active in literary and poetry societies and as a humor writer for the school's publications. In addition, his exposure to classic literature augmented his rich store of vocabulary and phraseology, he began to scribble ingenious, sometimes strained, rhymed phrases for use.
Mercer was the class clown and a prankster, member of the "hop" committee that booked musical entertainment on campus. Mercer was somewhat of an authority on jazz at an early age, his yearbook stated, "No orchestra or new production can be authoritatively termed'good' until Johnny's stamp of approval has been placed upon it. His ability to'get hot' under all conditions and at all times is uncanny." Mercer began to write songs, an early effort being "Sister Susie, Strut Your Stuff", learned the powerful effect songs had on girls. Given his family's proud history and association with Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University, Mercer was destined for school there until his father's financial setbacks in the late 1920s changed those plans, he went to work in his father's recovering business, collecting rent and running errands, but soon grew bored with the routine and with Savannah, looked to escape. Mercer moved to New York in 1928, when he was 19; the music he loved and blues, was booming in Harlem and Broadway was bursting with musicals and revues from George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin.
Vaudeville, though beginning to fade, was still a strong musical presence. Mercer's first few jobs were as a bit actor. Hole
Matthew Loveland Dennis was an American singer, band leader and writer of music for popular songs. Dennis was born in Seattle, United States, his mother was a violinist and his father a singer, the family was in vaudeville, so he was early exposed to music. In 1933 he joined Horace Heidt's orchestra as a pianist. On, he formed his own band, with Dick Haymes as vocalist, he became vocal coach and accompanist for Martha Tilton, worked with a new vocal group, The Stafford Sisters. Jo Stafford, one of the sisters, joined the Tommy Dorsey band in 1940 and persuaded Dorsey to hire Dennis as arranger and composer. Dennis wrote prolifically, with 14 of his songs recorded by the Dorsey band in one year alone, including "Everything Happens to Me", an early hit for Frank Sinatra. After four years in the United States Air Force in World War II, Dennis returned to music writing and arranging, getting a boost from his old friend Dick Haymes, who hired him to be the music director for his radio program. With lyricist Tom Adair he wrote songs for Haymes' program.
Dennis made six albums. Pianist Dave Brubeck and his quartet recorded an entire album of Dennis's compositions, released as Angel Eyes in 1965. In 2012, Jasmine Records re-released four of Dennis' records as "Welcome Matt"; the collection included "Plays and Sings Matt Dennis", a 1958 live performance by Dennis' piano trio, of twelve tunes that Dennis had co-authored. Dennis died in Riverside, California at the age of 88. "Angel Eyes" "Compared to You" "Everything Happens to Me" "It Wasn't the Stars" "Junior and Julie" "Let's Get Away from It All" "Little Man with a Candy Cigar" "Love Turns Winter to Spring" "Show Me the Way to Get Out of This World" "The Night We Called It a Day" "Violets for Your Furs" "Will You Still Be Mine" Biography of Matt Dennis Matt Dennis and Angel Eyes Matt Dennis at AllMusic Matt Dennis discography at Discogs Matt Dennis on IMDb
Bud Green was an American songwriter. Green immigrated to the United States as an infant. Bud Green grew up in Harlem at 108th & Madison Avenue at the turn of the 20th century, the eldest of seven, he dropped out of elementary school to help the family. While selling papers, he decided to become a songwriter and started keeping a notebook of poems and rhymes that he thought would be useful someday, his sister, was married to the lyricist Bob Russell, who wrote "Brazil", "Frenesi", "Don't Get Around Much Anymore", "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" and many other songs. In his early career, he wrote material for vaudevilles, he was a staff writer for music publishers and wrote Broadway stage scores as well as songs for other musicals. By 1928, he had written "Alabamy Bound" and "That's My Weakness Now", which became a huge hit for Ukulele Ike and Helen Kane. Kane's version including the suggestive scat phrase "boop boop ba doo." This line and Kane's stage persona made the song synonymous with the flapper era.
Kane and the song became the inspiration for the Betty Boop cartoons that debuted in 1930. The song was self-published by Sam H. Stept, they were in the Brass Rail Building at 7th Avenue. They went to Hollywood to work for the movie industry, he and Stept sold their company to Warner Bros. and returned to New York. He collaborated with many artists and fellow songwriters, including Les Brown, Buddy De Sylva, Al Dubin, Ella Fitzgerald, Slim Gaillard, Ray Henderson, Ben Homer, Raymond Scott, Sam H. Stept, Harry Warren. At 21, Bud Green married a girl from the Ziegfeld Follies, Nan Hinken, they were together until her death in the early 1960s. After selling his company, Green moved his family to Yonkers, New York, where he lived the rest of his life commuting to NYC every day, they had two sons, both now deceased. Green died in Yonkers, New York, in 1981. Bud Green wrote or co-wrote a number of songs, including: "Alabamy Bound" "That's My Weakness Now" "I Love My Baby" "Oh Boy, What a Girl" "In My Gondola" "Away Down South in Heaven" "I'll Always Be In Love With You" "Do Something" "Congratulations" "Good Little, Bad Little You" "My Mother's Evening Prayer" "Simple and Sweet" "Dream Sweetheart" "Moonlight on the River" "Swingy Little Thingy" "Blue Fedora" "More Than Ever" "You Showed Me the Way" "Tia Juana" "Once in a While" "The Man Who Comes Around" "Flat Foot Floogie" "Sentimental Journey" "Speed Limit" "Who Can Tell" "All the Days of Our Years" "My Number One Dream Came True" "On Account I Love You" He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1975.
Bud Green on IMDb Photo of Bud Green
James Francis McHugh was an American composer. One of the most prolific songwriters from the 1920s to the 1950s, he is credited with over 500 songs, his songs were recorded by many artists, including Chet Baker, June Christy, Bing Crosby, Deanna Durbin, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Adelaide Hall, Billie Holiday, Bill Kenny, Peggy Lee, Carmen Miranda, Nina Simone, Dinah Washington. McHugh began his career in Boston, his first success was with the World War I song "Keep the Love-Light Burning in the Window Till the Boys Come Marching Home", this came near the start of a decade-long collaboration with lyricist Jack Caddigan. After struggling in a variety of jobs, including rehearsal pianist for the Boston Opera House and pianist-song plugger for Irving Berlin's publishing company, in 1921, at the age of 26, McHugh relocated to New York City. Finding employment as a professional manager with the music publisher Jack Mills Inc. it was there that McHugh published his first real hit, "Emaline", teamed up with Irving Mills as The Hotsy Totsy Boys to write the hit song "Everything Is Hotsy Totsy Now".
This songwriting partnership marked another of McHugh's many collaborations, among them Ted Koehler, Al Dubin and Harold Adamson. As impressive as these master lyricists were McHugh's best symbiotic musical relationship was with the school teacher and poet Dorothy Fields. Since he had written material for many of Harlem's Cotton Club revues, it would be no coincidence that their first combined success would be the score for the all-black Broadway musical, Blackbirds of 1928, starring Adelaide Hall and Bill Bojangles Robinson, which jump-started the fledgling duo's career with the songs "I Can't Give You Anything But Love", "Diga Diga Doo", "I Must Have That Man". Other hits written for the stage were soon to follow, including 1930's "On the Sunny Side of the Street" for Lew Leslie's International Revue, which contained the favorite "Exactly Like You". McHugh and Fields contributed title songs for films including "Cuban Love Song", "Dinner at Eight" and "Hooray for Love", as well as "I Feel a Song Comin' On" and "I'm in the Mood for Love" from 1935's Every Night at Eight.
In the artistically fruitful years after they first collaborated in 1930, McHugh and Fields wrote over 30 songs for the film world. Fields and McHugh parted company in 1935. McHugh's longest songwriting partner was Harold Adamson. Adamson provided lyrics to McHugh's compositions; such hits as "Comin' in on a Wing and a Prayer" found its way into Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. For the 1948 film A Date with Judy, he composed "It's a Most Unusual Day" for Jane Powell, it became actress's signature tune. McHugh died in Beverly Hills, California, at the age of 74. Jimmy McHugh was inducted into The Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970. Broadway credits1928 – Blackbirds of 1928 1928 – Hello, Daddy 1930 – International Revue 1939 – The Streets of Paris 1940 – Keep Off The Grass 1948 – As the Girls Go A medley of his songs were included in the 1979 Broadway show Sugar Babies, starring Ann Miller and Mickey Rooney; the songs included were "I Can't Give You Anything but Love", "I'm Shooting High", "Roll Your Blues Away" and "On the Sunny Side of the Street".
Popular songs"A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening" – June Christy "Blue Again" – Louis Armstrong "Comin' In on a Wing and a Prayer" – Bing Crosby "Cuban Love Song" – Edmundo Ros "Diga Diga Doo" – The Mills Brothers w/ Duke Ellington "Doin' the New Low Down" – Bill “Bojangles” Robinson "Don't Blame Me" – The Everly Brothers "Dream Dream Dream" – Joni James "Exactly Like You" – Aretha Franklin "Goodbye Blues" - The Mills Brothers "Happy Times" – Hal Kemp & His Orchestra "I Can't Believe That You're in Love with Me" – Dean Martin "I Can't Give You Anything but Love" – Judy Garland "I Couldn't Sleep a Wink Last Night" – Frank Sinatra "I Just Found Out About Love" – Dinah Washington "I Love to Whistle" – Fats Waller "I'm in the Mood for Love" – Frances Langford "I Must Have That Man" – Billie Holiday "I'm Shooting High" – Ann Richards "It's a Most Unusual Day" – Andy Williams "I've Got My Fingers Crossed" – Louis Armstrong "Let's Get Lost" – Chet Baker "On the Sunny Side of the Street" – Frank Sinatra "Say It" - "South American Way" – The Andrews Sisters "Take it Easy" - Fats Waller "There's Something in the Air" – Ruth Etting "Too Young to Go Steady" – Nat King Cole "Warm and Willing" – Nat King Cole "When My Sugar Walks Down the Street" – Peggy Lee (