SURVEY OF LEADING ACOUSTIC ERA RECORDING ARTISTS

Back to table of Contents

Anthony, Harry (r.n.: John Young; d. 1954; 84)

He recorded successfully under many guises--solo artist; part of the gospel team, Harry Anthony and James F. Harrison; tenor with the Criterion Quartet--prior to joining the American Quartet in 1915. His hits included "When the Mists Have Rolled Away" (Edison 9105, 1905), "Meet Me Tonight In Dreamland" (with Elizabeth Wheeler, Edison 10290, 1910), and "Love Never Dies" (with Inez Barbour, Victor 17042, 1912).

Ash, Sam (d. October 21, 1951; 67)

This tenor split his time between Broadway musicals and recording. He later acted in several films. His hits included "Hello, Frisco!" (with Elida Morris, Columbia 1801, 1915), "America, I Love You" (Columbia 1842, 1916), and "Tears" (Columbia 2700, 1919).

Atlee, John Yorke (d. April 1, 1910; 68)

The "artistic whistler" was one of the earliest recording stars. His bestsellers included "The Mocking Bird" (Columbia, 1891), "Home, Sweet Home" (Columbia, 1891), and "After the Ball" (Columbia, 1893).

Austin, Gene (June 24, 1900-January 24, 1972)

Allegedly the most popular singer of the late 1920s, Austin started out as a vaudeville performer. His easygoing vocal and piano style enabled him to capitalize on the crooner craze fueled by the rise of both radio and electronic recording.

Baker, Elsie (d. April 28, 1958; 71)

The contralto frequently recorded under the pseudonym "Edna Brown." Her run as a first-line hitmaker ran from mid-1912 to mid-1922, and included solo work, various duo pairings (e.g., James F. Harrison, Reed Miller, Charles Harrison, Frederick Wheeler, Elliott Shaw, Olive Kline) and a stint with the Victor Light Opera Co. She had two top selling discs--"I Love You Truly" (Victor 17121, 1912) and "Hush-A-Bye Ma Baby" (Victor 18214, 1917)--and collaborated successively with Billy Murray on several occasions: "When You're Away" (with the American Quartet, Victor 17139, 1912), "Some Sort of Somebody" (Victor 17992, 1916), and "Simple Melody" (Victor 18051, 1916).

Ballard, George Wilton (d. April 6, 1950; 72)

The tenor recorded 15 years with Edison in the early years of the century. His biggest hit was "M-O-T-H-E-R (A Word That Means the World To Me) (Edison 50325, 1916).

Baur, Franklyn (d. February 24, 1950; 46)

Baur doubled as a solo artist and first tenor of the Revelers during the latter half of the 1920s. He was also the original "Voice of Firestone" on the radio. His biggest hits were "Deep In My Heart" (Victor 19378, 1924) and "Tonight You Belong To Me" (Brunswick 3319, 1926/27).

Bayes, Nora (r.n.: Dora Goldberg; d. March 19, 1928; 47)

Following s Broadway debut in 1901, she rose to stardom through shows teaming her with husband Jack Norworth. They wrote many popular songs, including "Shine On, Harvest Moon." She had two top-selling recordings: "Over There" (Victor 45130, 1917) and "Make Believe" (Columbia 3392, 1921).

Belmont, Joe (r.n.: Joseph Walter Fulton; d. August 28, 1949; 73)

The whistling soloist, known as "The Human Bird," had a recording career reaching back to the nineteenth century. He recorded with such luminaries as Murray and Ada Jones, and sang with the Columbia Male Quartet. Belmont had a top-selling recording, "Tell Me, Pretty Maiden" (with Byron G. Harlan, Frank C. Stanley, and the Florodora Girls, Columbia 31604, 1901).

Bernard, Al (d. March 9, 1949; 60)

A vaudeville comedy singer known as "the boy from Dixie, "Bernard was a throwback to an earlier era, often appearing onstage in blackface. His biggest hit was "I Want To Hold You In My Arms" (with Ernest Hare, Edison 50558, 1919).

Bieling, John (d. March 30, 1948; 79)

Bieling first made his mark as first tenor of the Manhansett Quartet in the 1890s. He was frequently teamed with Harry Macdonough on record; the pairing enjoyed a one top-selling hit, "In the Sweet Bye and Bye" (Victor 1855, 1903). He went on to become a member of both the Haydn and American Quartets during the first decade of the twentieth century.

Biese, Paul, Trio

Led by tenor saxophonist Paul Biese, the group had seven bestsellers in 1920-1921, four of which featured Frank Crumit as lead vocalist.

Big Four Quartet

This short-lived ensemble--comprised of Arthur Collins, Byron G. Harlan, Joe Natus, and A.D. Madeira--had a top-selling hit, "Good-Bye, Dolly Gray" (Edison 7728, 1901).

Brown, Edna (see: Elsie Baker)

Burr, Henry (r.n.: Harry H. McClaskey; January 15, 1882-April 6, 1941)

Like Billy Murray, he began recording for national labels in 1903. He is considered to have been the top balladeer of the pioneer era. He is reputed to have appeared on approximately 12,000 recordings, as a solo (often employing the pseudonym "Irving Gillette"), in duets with countless partners (most notably, Albert Campbell), and as a member of the Columbia Male Quartet, Peerless Quartet, and Sterling Trio. When his recordings stopped selling in the late 1920s, he shifted his energies to radio. He was part of the regular cast on NBC's National Barn Dance show at the time of his death. His top-selling recordings included "Come Down, Ma Ev'ning Star" (Columbia 1405, 1903), "In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree" (Edison 8958, 1905), "Love Me and the World Is Mine" (Columbia 3499, 1906), "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now" (Columbia 707, 1909), "Meet Me To-Night In Dreamland" (Columbia 905, 1910).

Campbell, Albert (d. January 25, 1947; 74)

The tenor balladeer began recording in 1897, achieving his greatest success in duets with Henry Burr and as a member of the Columbia Male Quartet, Peerless Quartet, and Sterling Trio. He also had several top-selling hits as a soloist: "My Wild Irish Rose" (Berliner 0139, 1899), "Ma Blushin' Rosie" (Gram-o-Phone 219, 1900), and "Love Me and the World Is Mine" (Victor 4823, 1906).

Cantor, Eddie (r.n.: Eddie Israel Iskowitz; January 31, 1892-October 10, 1964)

Cantor rose to stardom in the "Ziegfeld Follies of 1917" and remained a national figure for four decades, moving from vaudeville to radio, movies, and TV. His greatest successes as a comic singer spanned the 1917-1925 period, including three top-selling discs: "Margie" (Emerson 10301, 1921), "No, No, Nora" (Columbia 3964, 1923), and "If You Knew Susie" (Columbia 364, 1925).

Caruso, Enrico (February 27, 1873-August 2, 1921)

Probably the most renown singer ever, he came to America in 1902 following almost a decade of critical acclaim in Europe. His decision to record for Victor at that time has come to be viewed as one of the most important developments in the history of the phonograph; for the first time recordings came to be seen as an acceptable vehicle for serious music. His ability to compete with popular music artists on the bestselling charts has never been even remotely rivalled by a classical performer. The tenor had several top-selling recordings: "I Pagliacci--Vesti La Giubba" (Victor 88061, 1907), "Love Is Mine" (Victor 87095, 1912), and "Over There" (Victor 87294, 1918).

Casey, Michael (Pseudonym for Russell Hunting)

Clark, Helen

The New York-born contralto made many popular recordings between 1910-1930, as a soloist, in duets, and as a member of Victor Light Opera Company. Her collaboration with Murray, "Come On Over Here" (Victor 17441, 1913), was a major hit. "Sympathy" (Victor 17270), a duet with Walter Van Brunt, was a top seller in early 1913.

Cohan, George M. (July 3, 1878-November 5, 1942)

Cohan rose from the Four Cohans family vaudeville act to create a brash new style of American musical comedy which placed a greater emphasis on the dramatic dimension. He wrote, managed, and starred in a series of Broadway successes from the turn of the century to 1937. He recorded a number of his compositions prior to World War I (ironically, though, none of his more famous songs); his biggest seller was "Life's A Funny Proposition, After All" (Victor 60042, 1911).

Collins, Arthur (February 7, 1864-August 3, 1933)

A direct product of the minstrel tradition, Collins was considered the leading dialect comedy singer of the pioneer recording era. He was surpassed only by Burr and Murray as a hitmaker; his duo collaboration with Byron G. Harlan was one of the most successful in recording history. He was also a member of the Peerless Qaurtet (1906-1917) and the Big Four Quartet. His top-selling solo hits included "The Preacher and the Bear" (Edison 9000, 1905), allegedly the first recording to sell two million and the biggest hit of all time until 1920. Collins and Harlan also had approximately a dozen top sellers, most notably the most popular version of the Irving Berlin classic, "Alexander's Ragtime Band" (Victor 16908, 1911).

Columbia Comedy Trio

Comprised of Murray, Byron G. Harlan, and Steve Porter, this spontaneous studio lineup had one bestseller, "At the Village Post Office" (Columbia 3704).

Columbia Male Quartet

The forerunner to the Peerless Quartet, members included Henry Burr, Albert Campbell, Steve Porter, and Frank C. Stanley. Stanley also managed the group. Tom Daniels appears to have substituted for Stanley on a number of recordings.

Columbia Mixed Quartet

Built around Grace Kerns, Mildred Porter, Charles Harrison, and Frank Croxton, the ensemble had two big sellers, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" (Columbia 1155, 1912) and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" (Columbia 2104, 1916).

Columbia Orchestra

Directed by Charles A. Prince, the ensemble backed many of Columbia's stable of singers as well as recording its own hits (the biggest being "Hiawatha," Columbia 1155; 1903).

Columbia Stellar Quartet

The group's original personnel included Charles Harrison, John Barnes Wells, Frank Croxton, and Andrea Sarto. In 1915, Wells was briefly replaced by Henry Burr, who then gave way to Reed Miller. The Quartet was often paired with guest vocalists in the studio; e.g., Oscar Seagle, Margaret Keyes, Lucy Gates. It had a top-selling recording, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" (Columbia 2367), in 1918.

Confrey, Zez, and His Orchestra (r.n.: Edward Elzear Confrey; d. 1972; 77)

An influential composer (Murray recorded his "Stumbling") as well as instrumentalist, his biggest hit was "Kitten On the Keys" (Brunswick 2082, 1921; new version, Victor 18900, 1922).

Connolly, Dolly

The wife of songwriter Percy Wenrich (e.g., "Rainbow"), she specialized in MOR versions of ragtime and minstrel material (e.g., "Red Rose Rag," 1911; "Waiting For the Robert E. Lee," 1912).

Conway's Band

This pops concert band, directed by Patrick Conway, had a string of bestsellers during the second decade of the century, most notably the "Spirit of Independence March" (Victor 18559, 1919).

Coon-Sanders Orchestra

This Kansas City band, led by Carleton Coon (d. May 3, 1932; 38) and Joe Sanders (d. May 14, 1965; 70), achieved popularity through its NBC radio show. The ensembled also had many hit records during the twenties, most notably "Some Little Bird" (Columbia 3403, 1921).

Croxton, Frank (d. September 3, 1949; 71)

Best known as the bass singer for the Columbia Stellar Quartet and Peerless Quartet (1919-1925), he also had a number of solo hits, most notably "On the Road to Mandalay" (Columbia 5441, 1913).

Crumit, Frank (d. September 7, 1943; 53)

Crumit had a very successful run as a recording artist in the 1920s even though his "small" voice has not felt to be suited to acoustic recording. He was perhaps best remembered for his work in Broadway musicals and the radio show he co-hosted with wife Julia Sanderson from 1929-1943. His biggest records included "Oh! By Jingo! Oh! By Gee! (Columbia 2935, 1920), "Sweet Lady" (Columbia 3475, 1921), and "A Gay Caballero" (Victor 21735, 1928/29).

Dalhart, Vernon (r.n.: Marion Try Slaughter; April 6, 1883-September 15, 1948)

Originally a light opera tenor, Dalhart started recording in 1916. His transformation into a hillbilly interpreter of narrative dirges such as "The Wreck of the Old 97" and "The Death of Floyd Collins" resulted in phenomenal sales spanning some 30 labels and dozens of pseudonyms (e.g., Al Craver, Mack Allen). His top-selling hit, "The Prisoner's Song" (Victor 19427, 1925) was allegedly the biggest-selling non-holiday record of the pre-1955 era, accounting for more than seven million units.

Deleath, Vaughn (r.n. Leonore Vonderleath; May 28, 1943; 46)

Considered to be the first woman to sing on radio, Deleath performed more than 15,000 songs on 2,000 broadcasts from the early 1920s to the mid-1930s. Also recognized by some to be the first "crooner," his biggest hit recordings were "Ukelele Lady" (Columbia 361, 1925) and "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" (Edison 52044, 1927).

Denny, Will (d. October 2, 1908; 48)

The Boston native had a number of top sellers during the early years of recording, most notably "The Pretty Red Rose" (New England cylinder, 1892) and "Any Old Place I Hang My Hat Is `Home, Sweet Home' To Me" (Gram-o-Phone 956, 1901).

Dockstader, Lew (d. October 26, 1924; 68)

Vaudeville and minstrel show comedian who was a star from the 1870s to the early 1900s. He had one notable hit record, "Everybody Works But Father" (Columbia 3251, 1905). Al Jolson toured with his company prior to becoming a major Broadway star.

Dudley, S.H. (r.n.: Samuel Holland Rous; d. June 6, 1947; 81)

After a career singing opera (1886-1898), Dudley became the baritone of the Edison Male Quartet and Haydn Quartet. With the disbanding of the latter group, he went on to become a Victor executive. He became famous as the editor of the Victor record catalogs and Book of the Opera. His biggest sellers as a soloist were "When Reuben Comes to Town" (Victor A-519/Victor 3001, 1900), "Whistling" (Victor A-706, 1901), and "Meet Me In St. Louis, Louis" (Victor 2807, 1904).

Edison Male Quartette

Comprised of Harry Macdonough, John Bieling, S.H. Dudley, and William F. Hooley, this group is best known as the predecessor to the Haydn Quartet. The ensemble had a top-selling rendition of the classic, "My Old Kentucky Home" (Edison 2223), in early 1898.

Edwards, Cliff (d. July 18, 1972; 76)

Better known as "Ukelele Ike," Edwards' amiable, jazz-inflected approach stimulated a nationwide craze for the ukelele in the mid-1920s. He appeared in more than 50 film musicals, and achieved immortality as the voice of Jiminy Cricket in the Disney animated feature, Pinocchio. His long list of hits included two top sellers: "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" (Columbia 1471, 1928) and "Singin' in the Rain" (Columbia 1869, 1929).

Farrell, Marguerite (September 16, 1888-January 26, 1951)

This multi-faceted performer was successful in vaudeville (comic acting, dancing, singing) as well as operetta and grand opera. Her recording career was comprised of two phases: 1916-1917, when she worked for Columbia and Victor, and 1921-1922, when her name appeared in the Edison lists. She had a top seller, "If I Knock the `L' Out of Kelly (It Would Still Be Kelly to Me)" (Victor 18105) in 1916.

Favor, Edward M. (d. January 10, 1936)

A comic singer popular in vaudeville and on Broadway, Favor appears to have been influential in the development of Murray's recording style (and, perhaps ironically, found his career in that medium eclipsed by the latter's meteoric success). He had two top sellers, "Say Au Revoir, But Not Goodbye" (North American 858, 1894) and "My Best Girl's A New Yorker" (Columbia 2107, 1895).

Fields, Arthur (d. March 29, 1953; 64)

A professional singer at eleven, Fields was successful in vaudeville, radio, and recording. His career peaked during the period of U.S. involvement in World War I, composing as well as singing on a string of hits of a topical nature (including the very politically incorrect "Would You Rather Be a Colonel With an Eagle on Your Shoulder or a Private With a Chicken on Your Knee?"). His only top-selling disc was the Irving Berlin-penned "Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning" (Victor 18489, 1918).

Florodora Girls

Their names are lost in the past; however, they were the first cast members of a Broadway musical to record a song from their show: i.e., "Tell Me, Pretty Maiden" (Columbia 31604, 1901), along with Byron G. Harlan, Frank C. Stanley, and Joe Belmont.

Fuller's Novelty Orchestra, Earl

Led by trumpeter/trombonist Earl Fuller, the ensemble helped popularize the dance band trends of the 1920s. The group's biggest hit was "Sand Dunes" (Columbia 2697, 1919).

Gallagher and Shean

Ed Gallagher and Al Shean comprised one of the leading vaudeville comedy teams between 1910-1925. Their song, "Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Shean" (Victor 18941), culled from the Broadway revue, Ziegfeld Follies of 1922, became one of the biggest selling comedy records of all time.

Gaskin, George J. (d. circa 1920)

Known as "the Silver-Voiced Irish Tenor," Gaskin's stature as a recording artist in the 1890s was rivaled only by Dan Quinn and Len Spencer. His top selling recordings included "Drill, Ye Terriers, Drill" (North American, 1891), "Slide, Kelly, Slide" (North American, 1892), "O Promise Me" (New Jersey, 1893), "After the Ball" (New Jersey, 1893), "Sweet Rosie O'Grady" (Edison 1551, 1897), "On the Banks of the Wabash" (Columbia 4130, 1897), and "When You Were Sweet Sixteen" (Columbia 4281, 1900).

Georgia Minstrel Co.

A studio concoction built around tenors Harry Macdonough and S.H. Dudley, bass singer William F. Hooley, and piano accompanist Frank Banta, the ensemble had two hits in 1901, "Minstrel Record No. 3" (Victor 508) and "Minstrels: First Part, No. 5" (Victor 3039). Both attempted to simulate the variety show approach employed in minstrel shows.

Gibbs, Arthur, and His Gang

The pianist-bandleader had a number one bestseller, "Charleston" (Victor 19165, 1924), which set off the biggest dance craze of that decade.

Gilmore's Band

Patrick S. Gilmore first achieved fame for co-writing "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" in 1863 while bandleader of the Union Army. He had several bestselling cylinders during the first decade of commercial recording, most notably "Volunteers' March (New York, 1892) and "The Star-Spangled Banner" (New Jersey, 1892).

Glantz, Nathan, and His Orchestra

The alto and tenor saxophonist was widely recorded during the 1920s. His biggest disc was "Romany Love" (Gennett 4888, 1922).

Golden, Billy (d. January 30, 1926; 67)

The popular vaudeville comedian had a number one cylinder, "Turkey in the Straw" (Columbia, 1891) during the infancy of the record industry.

Great White Way Orchestra

The studio aggregate's biggest seller, "Yes! We Have No Bananas" (Victor 19068, 1923), was notable for the presence of Billy Murray's guest vocal and whistling.

Greene, Gene (d. April 5, 1930; 52)

Known as "the Ragtime King" on the vaudeville circuit, Greene's most popular recording was "King of the Bungaloos" (Columbia 994, 1911).

Hall, Wendell

The ukelele-playing Hall became an overnight sensation when "It Ain't Gonna Rain No Mo'" (Victor 19171), adapted from a nineteenth century Kentucky folk song, become the top-selling hit in early 1924, eventually selling more than two million copies. He continued to be popular for many years in radio and vaudeville.

Halley, William J. (r.n.: William J. Hanley; d. November 14, 1961; 68)

Allegedly the only bestselling artist to become a state legislator (New Jersey Assembly, 1917-1918) and a judge (Hoboken District Court Judge, 1923-1933), his biggest hits were "You Made Me Love You" (Victor 17381, 1913) and "Do You Take This Woman For Your Lawful Wife?" (Columbia 1497, 1914). Halley's willingness to abandon a promising career at a relatively tender age illustrates the low esteem accorded the recording profession.

W.C. Handy's Orchestra (November 16, 1873-March 29, 1958)

The cornetist, bandleader, music teacher first achieved success with his composition of "The Memphis Blues" in 1913. "The St. Louis Blues" (1914) went on to become the most recorded American song in history. The "Livery Stable Blues" (Columbia 2419, 1918) was the biggest seller for his own performing ensemble.

The Happiness Boys (see: Ernest Hare and Billy Jones)

Happy Six

The band, featuring Phil Ohman (piano) and George Hamilton Green (xylaphone), had a couple of hits, "My Sahara Rose" (Columbia 2934, 1920) and "Do You Ever Think of Me?" (Columbia 3372, 1921).

Harding, Roger (d. 1901)

An original member of the Edison Male Quartet (1894) who also produced some of the first children's recordings, Harding had a couple of best sellers, "Bye and Bye You Will Forget Me" (with Len Spencer, Columbia 8404, 1897) and "On the Banks of the Wabash" (Edison 2042, 1898).

Hare, Ernest, and Billy Jones (d. March 9, 1939, 55; November 23, 1940, 51)

The baritone Hare and tenor Jones formed a team popular on radio in the 1920s and 1930s. The duo also had many hit recordings in the 1920s, most notably "In the Little Red School House" (Edison 50962, 1922), Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Shean (Okeh 4608, 1922), "Barney Google" (Columbia 3876, 1923), and "I Miss My Swiss (My Swiss Miss Misses Me)" (Victor 19718, 1925).

Harlan, Byron G. (August 29, 1861-September 11, 1936)

In addition to his success as part of the ragtime and minstrel comedy team, Collins and Harlan, he was extremely successful as a soloist, specializing in sentimental ballads. His top sellers included "Tell Me, Pretty Maiden" (with Frank C. Stanley, Joe Belmont, and the Florodora Girls, Columbia 31604, 1901), "Hello Central, Give Me Heaven" (Edison 7852, 1901), "The Mansion of Aching Hearts" (Edison 8093, 1902), "Blue Bell" (with Stanley, Edison 8655, 1904), "All Aboard for Dreamland" (Edison 8700, 1904), "Where the Morning Glories Twine Around the Door" (Columbia 3282, 1905), "Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie" (Columbia 3321, 1906), "The Good Old U.S.A." (Columbia 3463, 1906), "My Gal Sal" (Victor 4918, 1907), "School Days" (Victor 5086, 1907), "Nobody's Little Girl" (Victor 5147, 1907), and "Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!" (with Stanley, Victor 16531, 1910).

Harris, Marion (d. April 23, 1944; 48)

Harris was a veteran of Broadway musicals in addition to being perhaps the leading female singer in the last decade of the acoustic era. Her top-selling recordings included "After You've Gone" (Victor 18509, 1919), "St. Louis Blues" (Columbia 2944, 1920), "Look for the Silver Lining" (Columbia 3367, 1921), and "Tea For Two" (Brunswick 2747, 1925).

Harrison, Charles (d. February 2, 1965; 74)

In addition to being a member of the Columbia Stellar Quartet, Columbia Mixed Quartet, Revelers, and American Singers, the tenor balladeer had many hits as a solo artist, including the following top sellers: "Peg O' My Heart" (Victor 17412, 1913), "Ireland Must Be Heaven, For My Mother Came From There" (Victor 18111, 1916), and "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows" (Victor 18496, 1918).

Harrison, James F. (r.n.: Frederick Wheeler; d. August 7, 1951; 73)

Harrison rose to prominence as part of the gospel duo, James F. Harrison and Harry Anthony, and enjoyed a string of hits as a soloist, paired with James Reed (real name: Reed Miller), and as a member of the Knickerbocker Quartet. The baritone balladeer's top- selling recordings included "Keep the Home Fires Burning" (Victor 17881, 1915/16), "My Little Dream Girl" (with Reed, Victor 17789, 1915), and "There's A Long, Long Trail" (with Reed, Victor 17882, 1915/16).

Hart, Charles

A veteran of opera, vaudeville, and stage acting, Hart had a series of hit recordings both as a solo artists and as first tenor in the Shannon Four (1917-1923). "Till We Meet Again" (Victor 18518, 1919), a duet with Lewis James, was his only top seller.

Harvey, Morton

Discovered in a minstrel show by Billy Murray, he had a number of bestselling discs during the World War I era, most notably the top-selling hit, "I Didn't Raise My Boy To Be a Soldier" (Victor 17716, 1915).

Haydn Quartet/Hayden Quartet (1910-1914)

Considered to be one of three great vocal groups of the pionner era (along with the American and Peerless), the Haydn Quartet was a consistent hitmaker from 1898 to 1914. The original members were tenors John Bieling and Harry Macdonough, baritone S.H. Dudley, and bass William F. Hooley; they recorded for Edison as the Edison Male Quartet. During the aggregate's later years Billy Murray often sang lead and Reinald Werrenrath was frequently substituted for Dudley. When the Haydn disbanded in 1914, Macdonough, Hooley, Werrenrath, and tenor Lambert Murphy formed the Orpheus Quartet. The group's top-seeling recordings included "Because" (Gram-o-Phone 105, 1900), "In the Good Old Summer Time" (Victor 1793, 1903), "Bedelia" (Victor 2559, 1904), "Toyland" (with Corrine Morgan, Victor 2721, 1904), "Blue Bell" (Victor 2750, 1904), "Sweet Adeline" (Victor 2934, 1904), "Dearie" (with Morgan, Victor 4396, 1905), "How'd You Like to Spoon With Me?" (with Morgan, Victor 4532, 1906), "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" (with Murray, Victor 5570, 1908), "Sunbonnet Sue" (Victor 5568, 1908), "Put On Your Old Gray Bonnet" (Victor 16377, 1909), and "By the Light of the Silv'ry Moon" (Victor 16460, 1910).

Hayman, Joe

This comedian specialized in skits built around the use of Jewish dialect. His chart topper, "Cohen on the Telephone" (Columbia 1516, 1914), may well have been the first million-selling spoken comedy recording.

Henderson, Fletcher, and His Orchestra (d. December 29, 1952; 54)

This pianist led one of the 1920s most important jazz ensembles; in the 1930s he was an arranger for Benny Goodman and other bands. His biggest recordings were "Charleston Crazy" (Vocalion 14726, 1924) and "Sugar Foot Stomp" (Columbia 395, 1925).

Hickman, Art, and His Orchestra (d. January 16, 1930; 43)

The West Coast dance band leader had many popular discs in the early 1920s, including a couple of top sellers, "Hold Me" (Columbia 2899, 1920) and "The Love Nest" (Columbia 2955, 1920).

Hickman, Mina

This Broadway musical interpreter had about a half dozen bestselling recordings during the 1901-1904 period, most notably the top seller, "Come Down, Ma Evening Star" (Columbia 955, 1903).

Hill, Murry K. (r.n.: Joseph T. Pop, Jr.; d. October 23, 1942)

The vaudeville comedian had one bestseller, "In the Good Old Steamboat Days" (Edison 9619, 1907).

Hindermyer, Harvey (d. October 22, 1957; 75)

The tenor was an original member of the Shannon Four (until 1918), and became popular on radio in the 1920s as one of the "Gold Dust Twins." His biggest solo hit was "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" (Columbia 586, 1908).

Hooley, William F. (d. October 12, 1918; 57)

The bass singer anchored the sound of both the Haydn Quartet (1898-1914) and American Quartet (1909-1918). He enjoyed a top seller in 1899, "Gypsy Love Song" (Edison 7163).

Hopper, DeWolf (d. September 23, 1935; 77)

Although popular in musical comedy for years, he was best known for the monologue, "Casey at the Bat" (Victor 31559, 1906), first performed onstage in 1888 and reprised by Hopper an estimated 10,000 times.

Hunting, Russell (d. February 20, 1943; 78)

Hunting began as a dramatic actor in the Boston Theatre Co. After becoming famous for his "Casey" Irish comedy recordings (where he frequently assumed multiple parts and supplied a variety of sound effects), he went on work as an Edison Bell executive and the recording head of the Pathe company. His top selling cylinders included "Michael Casey as a Physician" (New York, 1891), "Michael Casey at the Telephone" (Columbia, 1892), "Michael Casey Taking the Census" (Columbia, 1892), "Casey as Insurance Agent" (New Jersey, 1894), and "Casey at Denny Murphy's Wake" (Columbia 1894).

International Novelty Orchestra

The studio ensemble, directed by Nat Shilkret, was notable for backing Billy Murray on several recordings (including the hit, "Charley, My Boy," Victor 19411, 1924) as well as Vernon Dalhart on what was allegedly the first electrically-recorded disc to be released ("Let It Rain, Let It Pour," Victor 19624, 1925).

Irwin, May

The leading vaudeville performer of the 1890s, Irwin introduced such classics as "Ta-ra-ra-Boom-Der-e" and "The Bully" (both top sellers for Len Spencer) to stage audiences. Early film viewers were scandalized by her role in The Kiss (1895).

Issler, Edward, and His Orchestra

The pianist was one of the first musicians to record on a commercial basis, recording for North American in 1889. His biggest hit was "Dream of Passion Waltz" (New Jersey, 1897).

James, Lewis (d. February 19, 1959; 66)

James was popular as a solo artist and as a member of the Shannon Four, the Revelers, and the Criterion Trio. He is reputed to have made about 3,000 recordings from 1917 through the 1930s. He had a top selling hit, "Till We Meet Again" (with Charles Hart, Victor 18518, 1919).

Jaudas' Society Orchestra

The ensemble was headed by violinist Eugene A. Jaudas, for many years Edison's orchestra leader. Its hits included "Missouri Waltz" (Edison Blue Amberol 2950, 1916) and "The Darktown Strutters' Ball" (Edison 50469, 1918).

Johnson, George Washington (d. circa 1910; approx. 64)

One of the first entertainers to make recordings (on tin foil in 1877), the formaer slave had two seminal top-selling cylinders, "The Laughing Song" (Columbia, 1891) and "The Whistling Coon" (Columbia, 1891). The former was reputed to be the largest selling cylinder of the 1890s; due to the absence of mass production techniques, Johnson was required to to re-recorded the song around 40,000 times.

Johnson, James P. (d. November 17, 1955; 64)

The influential jazz pianist had one hit, "Carolina Shout" (Okeh 4495, 1922).

Jolson, Al (r.n.: Asa Yoelson; March 26, 1886-October 23, 1950)

Beginning with minstrel shows and vaudeville, Jolson conquered Broadway in 1911 and dominated the American musical for two decades on the strength of his dramatic vocal style and onstage personal rapport with fans. The Jazz Singer, which featured him in a singing role, stimulated the rise of sound in films. After a decade of decline, the 1946 motion picture, The Jolson Story, resurrected his career. Among his many hit recordings were the following top sellers: "That Haunting Melody" (Victor 17037, 1912), "Ragging the Baby to Sleep" (Victor 17081, 1912), "The Spaniard That Blighted My Life" (Victor 17318, 1913), "You Made Me Love You, I Didn't Want To Do It" (Columbia 1374, 1913), I Sent My Wife to the Thousand Isles" (Columbia 2021, 1916), "I'm All Bound Round With the Mason Dixon Line" (Columbia 2478, 1918), "Hello Central, Give Me No Man's Land" (Columbia 2542, 1918), "Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody" (Columbia 2560, 1918), "I'll Say She Does" (Columbia 2746, 1919), "I've Got My Captain Working For Me Now" (Columbia 2794, 1919/20), "Swanee" (Columbia 2884, 1920), O-H-I-O (O-My! O!)" (Columbia 3361, 1921), "April Showers" (Columbia 3500, 1922), "Angel Child" (Columbia 3568, 1922), "Toot Toot Tootsie (Goo'bye)" (Columbia 3705, 1922/23), "California, Here I Come!" (Brunswick 2569, 1924), "When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob-Bob-Bobbin' Along" (Brunswick 3222, 1926), "Sonny Boy" (Brunswick 4033, 1928), "There's a Rainbow Round My Shoulder" (Brunswick 4033, 1928), and "Little Pal" (Brunswick 4400, 1929).

Jones, Ada (June 1, 1873-May 22, 1922)

Regarded as leading female recording artist of the acoustic era, the contralto was unsurpassed in her sense of comic timing and use of ethnic and national dialects. Her long string of hits was augmented her popularity in duets with Len Spencer and Murray (the Jones/Murray pairing may well may been the most successful in recording history). Her solo top-selling discs included "I Just Can't Make My Eyes Behave" (Columbia 3599, 1907), "The Yama Yama Man" (with the Victor Light Opera Co., Victor 16326, 1909), "I've Got Rings On My Fingers" (Columbia 741, 1909), "Call Me Up Some Rainy Afternoon" (with the American Quartet, Victor 16508, 1910), "Come, Josephine, In My Flying Machine" (with the American Quartet, Victor 16844, 1911), "Row! Row! Row!" (Victor 17205, 1913), and "By the Beautiful Sea" (with Billy Watkins, Columbia 1563, 1914).

Jones, Billy (d. November 23, 1940; 51)

Jones started out in vaudeville and later gained renown on radio and recordings as part of the Happiness Boys together with Ernest Hare. He also had a string of hits as a solo artist, sometimes employing the pseudonym "Victor Roberts." One disc, "Yes! We Have No Bananas" (Edison 51183), was a top seller in 1923.

Jones, Isham, and His Orchestra (d. October 19, 1956; 62)

Tenor saxophonist Jones led one of the finest dance bands of the 1920s as well as writing many of its hits. The ensemble's top selling recordings included "Wabash Blues" (Brunswick 5065, 1921), "On the Alamo" (Brunswick 2245, 1922), "Swingin' Down the Lane" (Brunswick 2438, 1923), "Spain" (Brunswick 2600, 1924), "It Had To Be You" (Brunswick 2614, 1924), "I'll See You In My Dreams" (Brunswick 2788, 1925), "Remember" (Brunswick 2963, 1925), and "Star Dust" (Brunswick 4586, 1930).

Jose, Richard (d. October 20, 1941; 72)

Jose, a counter-tenor popular in vaudeville beginning in the 1890s, had a half dozen bestsellers, including the top-selling hit, "Silver Threads Among the Gold" (Victor 2556, 1904).

Kaufman, Irving (d. January 3, 1976; 85)

Reputed to be most prolific band singer ever (said to have recorded with 62 different orchestras between 1923-1933), Kaufman was also a member of the Avon Comedy Four, an extremely popular vaudeville act during the World War I era. He recorded many of the same songs identified with Billy Murray from 1914 to the late 1920s. He had one top seller, "Hail! Hail! The Gang's All Here" (with the Columbia Quartet, Columbia 2443, 1918).

Kaufman, Jack (d. February 27, 1948; 65)

Kaufman was often paired with his brother, Irving, in recordings. Their biggest hit was "Nobody Knows (And Nobody Seems To Care)" (Columbia 2795, 1920).

Kay, Dolly

Kay had a number of big hits in the early 1920s, most notably "You've Got To See Mama Ev'ry Night (Or You Can't See Mama At All) (Columbia 3808, 1923) and "Hard-Hearted Hannah" (Columbia 151, 1924).

Kelly, Dan

After performing with Christy's and other minstrel companies in 1870s and 1880s, he became one of the leading comic recording artists during the 1890s. He had one top seller, "Pat Kelly as a Police Justice" (Ohio, 1891).

Kerns, Grace (d. September 10, 1936; 50)

The concert soprano had close to a dozen hits between 1911-1917, most notably "Love Has Wings" (with Charles Harrison, Columbia 5574, 1914) and "Chinatown, My Chinatown" (with John Barnes Wells, Columbia 1624, 1915).

King, Charles (d. January 11, 1944; 49)

A veteran of many Broadway musicals from 1911 to 1930, King also recorded a series of bestsellers during that period, including "Let Me Live and Stay In Dixieland" (Victor 5843, 1911) and "My Own Iona" (Columbia 2059, 1916).

Kline, Olive

The concert soprano was a member of the Lyric Quartet and regularly featured in the Victor Light Opera Company. Among her top selling discs were "Hello Frisco!" (with Reinald Werrenrath, billed as "Alice Green and Edward Hamilton, Victor 17837, 1915) and "They Didn't Believe Me" ("Alice Green and Harry Macdonough", Victor 35491, 1915).

Landry, Art, and His Orchestra

The violinist bandleader had a number of hits during 1923-1927, including the top seller, "Dreamy Melody" (Gennett 5052, 1923).

Lanin, Sam, and His Orchestra

Also musical director of the star recording group, the Ipana Troubadors, Lanin was one of the most heavily-recorded bandleaders between the early 1920s and early 1930s. The orchestra's biggest seller was "The Blue Room" (billed as the "Melody Sheiks", Okeh 40603, 1926).

Lauder, Harry (d. February 25, 1950; 79)

The Scottish comedian and folk interpreter was popular in English-speaking countries around the world during the decade prior to World War I. His biggest selling discs were "I Love a Lassie" (Victor 52002, 1907) and "She Is My Daisy" (Victor 58007, 1909).

Leachman, Silas (d. April 28, 1936; 76)

This minstrel singer was one of the most popular artists during the first decade of commercial recording. Based in Chicago, he abruptly stopped recording activities in 1902 when faced with the imperative of moving East (where the studios of the major labels were located). He had one top seller, "Dem Golden Slippers" (Columbia, 1894).

Levy, Jules (d. November 28, 1903; 45)

Widely considered "the world's greatest cornet player" during the latter decades of the nineteenth century, Levy was also the first prominent musician to be recorded on a regular basis. He had several bestsellers, most notably "My Country 'Tis Of Thee" (North American 470, 1893).

Lewis, Ted, and His Band (r.n.: Theodore Friedman; August 25, 1971, 79)

The multi-talent bandleader--clarinetist, singer, songwriter, and entertainer whose delivery was a product of his formative years in vaudeville--enjoyed great success as a recording artist in the 1920s and 1930s. His top-selling discs included "When My Baby Smiles At Me" (Columbia 2908, 1920), "All By Myself" (Columbia 3434, 1921), "O! Katharina" (Columbia 295, 1925), "Just a Gigolo" (Columbia 2378, 1931), "In a Shanty in Old Shanty Town" (Columbia 2652, 1932), and "Lazybones" (Columbia 2786, 1933).

Libbey, J. Aldrich

This successful vaudeville performer was perhaps best known for introducing "After the Ball." His biggest selling recordings were "On a Sunday Afternoon" (Edison 8018, 1902) and "In the Sweet Bye and Bye" (Edison 8300, 1903).

Lyman, Abe, and His California Orchestra (r.n.: Abraham Simon; d. October 23, 1957, 60)

The drummer-songwriter-bandleader had a lengthy run as a successful recording artist (1923-1945). His biggest hits included "Mary Lou" (Brunswick 3135, 1926) and "Little Old Lady" (Decca 1120, 1937).

Lyric Quartet

The group--formed in 1910--was originally comprised of Harry Macdonough, Frank C. Stanley, Elise Stevenson, and Corrine Morgan. Its membership from 1913 on consisted of Macdonough, Reinald Werrenrath, Olive Kline, and Elsie Baker. Its best-selling recordings were "Winter" (Victor 5814, 1911) and "Down Among the Sheltering Palms" (Victor 17778, 1915).

MacDonald, Christie (d. July 25, 1962; 87)

MacDonald starred in a string of Broadway musicals between 1898-1920. Her biggest hits were "The Angelus" (with Reinald Werrenrath and the Victor Male Chorus, Victor 70099, 1913) and "Sweethearts" (written specifically for her by Victor Herbert; Victor 60101, 1913).

Macdonough, Harry (r.n.: John S. MacDonald; March 30, 1871-September 26, 1831)

The tenor was surpassed in popularity only by Henry Burr as a balladeer during the acoustic era. His solo career was complemented by widespread recording activity as a member of the Victor Light Opera Co. and the Edison, Haydn, Lyric, and Orpheus Quartets. He was employed as a record company executive after World War I. Macdonough's top sellers included "Tell Me, Pretty Maiden" (with Grace Spencer, Edison 7758, 1901), "Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder" (Victor 907, 1901), "The Tale of the Bumble Bee" (Victor 908, 1901), "The Mansion of Aching Hearts" (Victor 1415, 1902), "In the Sweet Bye and Bye" (with John Bieling, Victor 1855, 1903), "Hiawatha" (Edison 8425, 1903), "Shine On, Harvest Moon" (Victor 16259, 1909), "Down By the Old Mill Stream" (Victor 17000, 1911/12), "The Girl on the Magazine" (Victor 17945, 1916).

MacFarlane, George (d. February 22, 1932; 54)

The baritone, who performed on Broadway and in operettas, had one top-selling disc, "A Little Bit Heaven (Shure, They Call It Ireland)" (Victor 60132, 1915).

Mahoney, Jere

In addition to a stint with the Edison Male Quartet (1896-1900), Mahoney's top-selling solo recordings included "When You Were Sweet Sixteen" (Edison 7410, 1900) and "A Bird in a Gilden Cage" (Edison 7440, 1900).

Manhansett Quartette

The first vocal group to receive recognition for its recorded work, it was comprised of George J. Gaskin, Gilbert Girard, Joe Riley, and a gentleman named "Evans" (John Bieling joined in 1894). Among the aggregate's hits were two top sellers, "The Picture Turned Toward the Wall" (North American, 1892) and "Sally in Our Alley" (North American, 1892).

Marsh, Lucy Isabelle (d. January 20, 1956; 77)

In addition to working with the Victor Light Opera Co., the soprano had many bestsellers of her own between 1908-1922, including the top sellers, "The Glow-Worm" (Columbia 3791, 1908) and "Every Little Movement" (Victor 5784, 1910).

Marvin, Johnny (d. December 20, 1944; 47)

Very popular as a band vocalist in the late 1920s, Marvin went on the compose songs for Gene Autry films in the 1930s. He had one top-seller, "Breezin' Along With the Breeze" (Columbia 699, 1926).

McCormick, John (June 14, 1884-August 16, 1945)

The Irish tenor began recording in 1904 for Edison Bell. However, it was his operatic debut in Italy shortly thereafter which elevated him to superstardom. His popularity spread to America in 1910; by 1915, he found it necessary to concentrate on concert performances and recordings. Like Caruso, he did much to elevate the prestige of the latter medium. His top-selling hits included "I'm Falling In Love With Someone" (Victor 64174, 1911), "Mother Machree" (Victor 64181, 1911), "It's a Long, Long Way to Tipperary" (Victor 64476, 1915), "Somewhere a Voice Is Calling" (Victor 64405, 1916), "The Sunshine of Your Smile" (Victor 64622, 1916), "The Star-Spangled Banner" (Victor 64664, 1917), "Send Me Away With a Smile" (Victor 64741, 1917/18), and "All Alone" (Victor 1067, 1927).

Meeker, Edward (d. April 19, 1937; 63)

Better known to pioneer recording afficionados as Edison's song announcer and sound effects specialist from the early years of the century to the 1920s, Meeker enjoyed a couple of bestsellers as a solo artist: "Harrigan" (Edison 9616, 1907) and "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" (Edison 9926, 1908).

Metropolitan Orchestra

Reputed to be the first orchestra to record regularly in the studio, its top hit was "Creole Belles" (Victor 1023, 1902).

Meyer, John (d. May 3, 1949; 71)

Meyer sang bass for both the Peerless Quartet (1911-1925) and American Quartet (1921-1925). He also recorded two hits as a duo with Henry Burr, "Carolina Sunshine" (Okeh 4006, 1920) and "I Never Knew" (Okeh 4043, 1920).

Miller, Reed (d. December 29, 1923; 43)

The concert and operatic tenor had a string of hits with Frederick Wheeler (billed as "James Reed and James F. Harrison") and as a member of the Columbia Stellar Quartet. His biggest hits as a solo artist were "It's Always June When You're In Love" (Columbia 924, 1911) and "A Stein Song" (with Frank Croxton, Columbia 5386, 1912).

Montgomery and Stone (r.n.: Dave Montgomery and Fred Stone; d. April 20, 1917; 46 and March 6, 1959; 85)

The musical comedy duo--popular in Broadway shows, vaudeville, and minstrel shows--had one bestseller, "Moriah-Scotch Medley" (Victor 70044, 1911).

Moran and Mack (r.n.: George Moran and Charles Sellers, aka Charles Mack; 1881-1949 and 1888-1934)

The vaudeville comedy team's first release, the politically incorrect "Two Black Crows--Parts 1 & 2 (The Early Bird Catches the Worm)" (Columbia 935, 1927), is reputed to have been one of that decade's biggest sellers. This disc was followed by a series of successful sequals; e.g., "Two Black Crows--Parts 3 & 4 (All About Lions)," "Two Black Crows--Part 5 (Curiosities on the Farm)," "Two Black Crows--Part 7 (No Matter How Hungry a Horse Is, He Cannot Eat a Bit)."

Morgan, Corrine (r.n.: Corrine Morgan Welsh; d. 1945; est. 70)

A steady hitmaker during the first decade of the century, the contralto is perhaps best remembered for her duets with Frank C. Stanley. Her top sellers included "Toyland" (with the Haydn Quartet, Victor 2721, 1904), "Dearie" (Victor 4396, 1905), "How'd You Like to Spoon With Me?" (Victor 4532, 1906), and "So Long, Mary" (Victor 4590, 1906).

Morris, Elida

A veteran of minstrel shows and opera, Morris recorded with Billy Murray and enjoyed a series of hits between 1910-1915, most notably "I've Got Your Number" (with Walter Van Brunt, Columbia 3191, 1911), "If I Had Someone at Home Like You" (Columbia 1523, 1914), and "Hello, Frisco!" (with Sam Ash, Columbia 1801, 1915).

Morton, Eddie (d. April 11, 1938; 67)

While the vaudeville comedian's most popular recording was "You Ain't Talking Me" (Columbia 777, 1910), his "Oceana Roll" (Victor 16908, 1911) achieved far wider distribution in that it appeared on the flip side of Collins and Harlan's mega-seller, "Alexander's Ragtime Band."

Murphy, Lambert (d. July 24, 1954; 69)

The tenor was a member of the Orpheus Quartet and performed with the Metropolitan Opera. His hits included "Goodbye, Girls, I'm Through" (Victor 17715, 1915), "Have a Heart" (with Olive Kline, billed as "Alice Green and Raymond Dixon"; Victor 18104, 1916), "Will You Remember?" ("Alice Green and Raymond Dixon", Victor 18399, 1918), and "Roses of Picardy" (Victor 45130, 1918).

Myers, J.W. (d. circa 1919; early 50s)

Originally a theatrical manager, Myers was considered the leading baritone balladeer of the acoustic era. A consistent hitmaker between 1892-1907, his top-selling recordings included

"Two Little Girls in Blue" (New Jersey, 1893), "The Sidewalks of New York" (Columbia, 1895), "Just Tell Them That You Saw Me" (Columbia 6009, 1895), "In the Shade of the Palm" (Columbia 31620, 1901), "On a Sunday Afternoon" (Columbia 106, 1902), "Way Down in Old Indiana" (Victor 1228, 1902), and "In the Good Old Summer Time" (Columbia 940, 1902).

Natus, Joe (d. April 26, 1917; 57)

A member of the Big Four Quartet, Natus had one top-selling cylinder as a solo artist, "The Song That Reached My Heart" (North American, 1892).

Nielsen, Alice (d. March 8, 1943; 66)

A performer with the Metropolitan Opera (1909-1913), the soprano's bestsellers included a number one hit, "Home, Sweet Home" (Columbia 5283) in 1915.

Norworth, Jack (d. September 1, 1959; 80)

A veteran of vaudeville and Broadway musicals, Norworth was also a successful recording artist and songwriter (e.g., "Shine On, Harvest Moon", "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"). His bestselling disc--which teamed him with his wife, Nora Bayes--was "Come Along, My Mandy" (Victor 70016, 1910).

Oakland, Will (r.n.: Herman Hinricks; d. May 15, 1956, 76)

Oakland parlayed his high counter-tenor voice to a lengthy career ranging from vaudeville in the early 1900s to television work in the 1950s. He worked extensively with Murray; in duets, in front of the American Quartet, and as a member of the Heidelberg Quintet. He also enjoyed a string of top-selling solo recordings, "Mother Machree (Edison Amberol 583, 1911), "I Love the Name of Mary" (Columbia 969, 1911), and I'm On My Way to Mandalay" (with Henry Burr and Albert Campbell, Victor 17503, 1914).

O'Connell, M.J.

O'Connell had about a half dozen hits during the World War I era, most notably a duet with Ada Jones, "Some Sunday Morning" (Columbia 2330, 1917).

O'Connor, George (d. September 28, 1946; 72)

This minstrel-show comedian was reputed to have been the favorite White House entertainer of every president from McKinley through Franklin D. Roosevelt. Walsh has written that no important social event in the Capitol was considered complete without O'Connor. His biggest selling recordings were "Everybody Rag With Me" (Columbia 1706, 1915) and "Pray For the Lights to Go Out" (Columbia 2143, 1917).

O'Hara, Geoffrey (d. 1965; 73)

Considered an expert on American Indian music, the singer-songwriter had two major hits, "All I Want Is a Cottage, Some Roses, and You" (Victor 18022, 1916) and "They Made It Twice As Nice As Paradise (And They Called It Dixieland)" (flip side of "Simple Melody", by Murray and Elsie Baker; Victor 18051, 1916).

Olcott, Chauncey (d. March 18, 1932; 74)

The tenor began his career in 1890s minstrel shows prior to achieving sucess in Broadway musicals. He also won acclaim as composer of Irish ballads (e.g., "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling," "My Wild Irish Rose," "Mother Machree"). Among his bestsellers were a couple of number one hits, "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" (Columbia 1310, 1913) and "Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral (That's An Irish Lullaby)" (Columbia 1410, 1913/14).

Oliver, King, and His Jazz Band (r.n.: Joseph Oliver, d. April 8, 1938)

The "king" of New Orleans jazz cornet during the post-World War I period, his sessions with protege Louis Armstrong in Chicago remain the seminal recordings of the dixieland genre. His was first black jazz band to record commercially; their biggest sellers were "Dipper Mouth Blues" (Okeh 4918, 1924) and "St. James' Infirmary" (Victor 22298, 1930).

Olsen, George, and His Orchestra (March 18, 1893-March 18, 1971)

This sweet-band leader had many hits during the first two decades of electronic recording, including the top sellers "Who?" (Victor 19840, 1926), "Always" (Victor 19955, 1926), "At Sundown (When Love Is Calling Me Home)" (Victor 20476, 1927), "A Precious Little Thing Called Love" (Victor 21832, 1929), "Lullaby of the Leaves" (Victor 22998, 1932), "Say It Isn't So" (Victor 24124, 1932), and "The Last Round-Up" (Columbia 2791, 1933).

Original Dixieland Jazz Band

Comprised of leader Nick LaRocca (cornet, composer of "Tiger Rag" and "Livery Stable Blues"), clarinetist Larry Shields, trombonist Eddie Edwards, pianist Harry Ragas, and drummer Tony Sbarbaro, the ODJB was both the first jazz group to be commercially recorded as well as the first to popularize jazz. "Tiger Rag" was its biggest seller (Victor 18472, 1918).

Orpheus Quartet

The group--whose members included tenors Harry Macdonough and Lambert Murphy, baritone Reinald Werrenrath, and bass William F. Hooley--had a string of hits during the World War I era, most notably "Turn Back the Universe and Give Me Yester Day" (Victor 18112, 1916).

Ossman, Vess (r.n.: Sylvester Louis Ossman; August 21, 1868-December 8, 1923)

The most recorded ragtime musician from the original ragtime era, Ossman was also known as "the King of the Banjo" from the 1890s to World War I. His lengthy run as a hitmaker included the following top sellers: "Yankee Doodle" (North American 905, 1894), "Cocoanut Dance" (Columbia 1069, 1895), and "A Hot Time on the Levee" (Columbia 7200, 1896).

Peerless Quartet

The most commercially successful vocal group ever, the Peerless remained popular despite frequently changes in personnel. The earliest edition--known as the Columbia Male Quartet--consisted of tenors Henry Burr and Albert Campbell, baritone Steve Porter, and bass Tom Daniels. In 1906 Daniels was replaced by Frank C. Stanley, who assumed lead singing and managing responsibilities. Arthur Collins then filled Porter's slot in 1909 and, with Stanley's death in 1910, John Meyer became bass and Burr took over as leader. When Collins left in late 1918 to be succeeded by Frank Croxton, the lineup remained stable through 1925. At this time Burr changed the personnel to include himself, Carl Mathieu, Stanley Baughman, and James Stanley; this version stayed in place until the ensemble was disbanded in 1928. Among the Quartet's many top sellers were "You're the Flower of My Heart, Sweet Adeline" (Columbia 32584, 1904), "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" (Columbia 1057, 1911), "I Didn't Raise My Boy To Be a Soldier" (Columbia 1697, 1915), "My Bird of Paradise" (Victor 17770, 1915), "The Lights of My Home Town" (Victor 17943, 1916), "Over There" (Columbia 2306, 1917), and "I Don't Know Where I'm Going But I'm On My Way" (Victor 18383, 1918).

Philadelphia Orchestra, conucted by Leopold Stokowski

The orchestra, led by the flamboyant Stokowski between 1912-1938, recorded close to a dozen bestsellers during the decade following World War I, including "A Midsummer Night's Dream--Scherzo" (Victor 74560, 1918), "Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 (Anitra's Dance)" (Victor 64768, 1919), "Invitation to the Waltz" (Victor 74598, 1920), "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2" (Victor 74647, 1921), "The Young Prince and the Young Princess" (Victor 74691, 1921), and "The Firebird, Parts 1 & 2" (Victor 6492, 1925).

Porter, Steve (d. January 13, 1946; 81)

The baritone started out as a vaudeville comedian in the 1890s and went on to become a member of the Columbia Male (1904-1905), Peerless (1906-1909), and American Quartets (1909-1919). A consistent hitmaker between 1898-1910, his top selling recordings included "On the Banks of the Wabash" (Berliner 1784, 1898), "She's More To Be Pitied Than Censured (Columbia 4576, 1898), A Picture No Artist Can Paint (Columbia 4599, 1899), and "A Bird in a Gilded Cage" (Columbia 4608, 1900).

Price, Georgie (d. May 10, 1964; 64)

While the singer-comedian found his greatest success on vaudeville, he also had several hits in the early 1920s, the biggest being "California, Here I Come" (Victor 19261, 1924).

Prince's Orchestra (r.n.: Charles Adams Prince; d. October 10, 1937; 68)

Originally a pianist and celesta player, Prince served as musical director of Columbia Records from the turn of the century to the early 1920s. In that capacity his band backed virtually every vocalist recording for that label. The aggregate also was one of the leading hit producers of the acoustic period on its own. Among its successes were the following top selling discs: "Ballin' the Jack" (Columbia 5595, 1914), "Hello, Hawaii, How Are You?" (Columbia 5780, 1916), and "The Star-Spangled Banner" (Columbia 1991, 1916).

Arthur Pryor's Band (d. June 18, 1942; 71)

Pryor first won acclaim as first trombonist in John Philip Sousa's band; due to the latter's dislike of the recording medium, he also served as conductor on most of the Sousa releases. In the early years of the century, Pryor guided his own outfit to great success both on discs and as a concert attraction. His biggest hits included "Bedelia" (Victor 1558, 1904), "Meet Me In St. Louis Medley" (Victor 2960, 1904), "Hearts and Flowers" (Victor 31371, 1905), "You're a Grand Old Flag" (Victor 31539, 1906), and "On the Rocky Road to Dublin" (Victor 4842, 1906).

Quinn, Dan (d. November 7, 1938; 79)

Reputed to have recorded 2,500-odd songs over a 20-year career, Quinn was one of three major vocal recording stars of the 1890s (the others were George J. Gaskin and Len Spencer). His top selling hits included "Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow-Wow" (New Jersey, 1892), "The Bowery" (New Jersey, 1893), "Daisy Bell" (New Jersey, 1893), "Lindley, Does You Love Me?" (Columbia, 1894), "My Pearl Is a Bowery Girl" (Columbia, 1894), "And Her Golden Hair Was Hanging Down Her Back" (Columbia, 1894), "The Sidewalks of New York" (Columbia, 1895), "The Band Played On" (Columbia 2045, 1895), "The Little Lost Child" (Columbia 2048, 1895), In the Baggage Coach Ahead" (US Phonograph Co., 1896), "A Hot Time in the Old Town" (Edison 1038, 1896), "My Mother Was a Lady" (Columbia 5093, 1897), "There's a Little Star Shining For You" (Edison 1098, 1897), "She Was Happy Till She Met You" (Columbia 5354, 1898), "At a Georgia Camp Meeting" (Columbia 5353, 1898), "Curse of the Dreamer" (Columbia 5822, 1899), and "Good Evening, Carrie" (Victor 920, 1901).

Rainey, Ma (r.n.: Gertrude Malissa Pridgett; d. December 22, 1939, 53)

The pioneer blues singer (who married vaudeville performer William "Pa" Rainey) exerted a strong influence on Bessie Smith. Her only pop bestseller was the standard, "See See Rider Blues" (Paramount 12252, 1925).

Harry Reser's Orchestra (d. September 27, 1965)

Considered the leading banjo player of the 1920s, Reser was also the musical director of the Clevelanders and Clicquot Club Eskimos. His half dozen hits included "Yearning" (Columbia 319, 1925) and "Someone Is Losin' Susan" (Columbia 1378, 1926).

Rice, Gladys (r.n.: Gladys Hilberg; d. September 7, 1983, 92)

A popular interpreter of Broadway material, Rice had a series of hits paired with Billy Murray: "After You've Gone" (Edison Blue Amberol 3666, 1919), "Marion" (Victor 18671, 1920), "When My Baby Smiles At Me" (Edison 50651, 1920), "Oh! How I Laugh When I Think That I Cried Over You" (Edison Blue Amberol 4048, 1920), and "I Gave You Up Just Before You Threw Me Down" (Victor 19023, 1923).

Ring, Blanche (d. January 13, 1961; 83)

During her long career on Broadway (1902-1938), she introduced many classics ("In the Good Old Summer Time"). Her top sellers included "I've Got Rings on My Fingers" (Victor 5737, 1909) and "Come, Josephine, In My Flying Machine" (Victor 60032, 1911).

Robbins, Will

Robbins had several hits during the World War I era, most notably "By Heck" (with Byron G. Harlan, Columbia 1722, 1915).

Roberts, Bob (d. January 21, 1930; 51)

The baritone specialized in the type of novelty material also interpreted by Billy Murray. Among his string of hits was a top-selling disc, "Ragtime Cowboy Joe" (Victor 17090, 1912).

Robison, Carson (d. March 24, 1957; 66)

This country and western performer was responsible for composing a number of classics (e.g., "My Blue Ridge Mountain Home," "Carry Me Back to the Lone Prairie"). His most popular recording was "When Your Hair Has Turned to Silver" (with Frank Luther, billed as "Bud and Joe Billings," Victor 22588, 1931).

Robyn, William

The tenor balladeer's only notable hit was "I'm In Heaven When I'm In My Mother's Arm" (Victor 18686, 1920).  

Rodeheaver, Homer (d. December 18, 1955; 75)

Renown for singing hymns at Billy Sunday's revival meetings, Rodeheaver's most successful release was "The Old Rugged Cross" (Victor 18706, 1921).

Rogers, Walter B. (d. December 24, 1939; 74)

Rogers was the featured cornet player in Sousa's band and conducted on some of famed bandleader's recordings. He was also director of the Victor Light Opera Co. and Victor Military Band as well as orchestral conductor for virtually all Victor artists between 1908-1916.

Rogers, Will (d. August 1935; 55)

The stage and screen star recorded a number of hits, the biggest of which was "Will Rogers' First Political Speech" (Victor 45374, 1924).

Romain, Manuel (d. December 22, 1926; 56)

The tenor balladeer starred in vaudeville and minstrel shows during the first two decades of the century. He recorded about a dozen bestsellers, most notably "When I Lost You" (Columbia 1288, 1913), "I Miss You Most of All" (Columbia 1454, 1914), and "You're More Than the World To Me" (Columbia 1577, 1914).

Rose, Julian

The Jewish sketch comedian had one notable hit, "Levinsky at the Wedding, Parts 3 & 4" (Columbia 2366, 1918).

Sarto, Andrea

The bass singer was a founding member of the Columbia Stellar Quartet; he generally employed pseudonyms for the release of his solo material. His biggest seller was "There's a Girl in the Heart of Maryland," billed as by "Henry Burr and Edgar Stoddard" (Columbia 1360, 1913).

Seagle, Oscar (d. December 19, 1945; 68)

The concert baritone recorded several hits during the World War I era, most notably "There's A Long, Long Trail" (with Columbia Stellar Quartette, Columbia 245, 1918), "Calling Me Home to You" (Columbia 2452, 1918), and "Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag" (with Columbia Stellar Quartette, Columbia 6028, 1918).

Seeley, Blossom (d. April 17, 1974; 82)

The singer-dancer starred on vaudeville and on Broadway in the 1920s. Her biggest selling discs were "Alabamy Bound" (Columbia 304, 1925) and "Yes Sir, That's My Baby" (Columbia 386, 1925).

Selvin, Ben, and His Orchestra (d. July 15, 1980; 82)

Originally a violinist, he cut more records (over 2,000) than any other bandleader. His extensive inventory of hits included the following top sellers: "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" (Victor 18603, 1919), "Dardanella" (the first recording to sell in excess of five million copies; Victor 18633, 1920), "Yes! We Have No Bananas" (guest vocal by Irving Kaufman, Vocalion 14590, 1923), "Oh, How I Miss You Tonight" (Columbia 359, 1925), "Manhattan" (Columbia 422, 1925), "Blue Skies" (Columbia 860, 1927), "Happy Days Are Here Again" (Columbia 2116, 1930), and "When It's Springtime in the Rockies" (Columbia 2206, 1930).

Shannon Four

The vocal group was originally comprised by tenoors Charles Hart and Harvey Hindermyer, baritone Elliott Shaw, and bass Wilfred Glenn. Lewis James took over for Hindermyer in 1918, and the ensemble had evolved into the Revelers by 1926. Its biggest sellers included "Hail! Hail! The Gang's All Here" (Victor 18414, 1918), "Sweet Little Buttercup" (with Elizabeth Spencer, Victor 18427, 1918), and "Mandy" (Victor 18605, 1919).

Shaw, Elliott

In addition to handling the baritone slot for both the Shannon Four and the Revelers, Shaw recorded under his own name. His most popular recording was a duet with Edna Brown, "Ka-Lu-A" (Victor 18854, 1922).

Shilkret, Jack, and His Orchestra (d. June 16, 1964; 67)

The pianist-bandleader had his biggest hit backing Billy Murray, "If You Knew Susie (Like I Know Susie)" (Victor 19675, 1925).

Shilkret, Nat, and the Victor Orchestra

Following stints as clarinetist with the New York Philharmonic and various concert bands (including Sousa's), he served as Victor's Director of Light Music, providing the accompaniment for many of the label's acts. He worked with Billy Murray, most notably on the hit, "Charley, My Boy" (Victor 19416, 1924). Among his many popular discs, he had one top seller, "Dancing With Tears In My Eyes" (guest vocal by Lewis James, Victor 22425, 1930).

Sissle, Noble (d. December 17, 2975)

The singer-bandleader is best remembered for his collaborations with pianist-composer Eubie Blake (lyricist), one of which proved to be his biggest hit, "Arkansas Blues" (Emerson 10443, 1922).

Smalle, Ed (d. November 23, 1968; 81)

Smalle's career consisted largely of associations with other artists, most notably Billy Murray, Vaughan Deleath, Johnny Marvin, and the Revelers. "That Old Gang of Mine" (with Murray, Victor 19095), which was a top seller in late 1923, was far and away his biggest hit.

Smith, Bessie (April 15, 1895-September 26, 1937)

Considered the best blues singer ever, Smith began her career touring with the legendary Ma Rainey. Her debut release was the million-selling "Down-Hearted Blues" (Columbia 3844, 1923); an amazing scenario for a "race" record. Her hits were concentrated between 1923-1929; together, they played a key role in saving Columbia from bankruptcy. These recordings remain vital to the present day; in addition to the unrivalled depth and power of her voice, she was frequently accompanied by the leading jazz musician of her generation (e.g., Louis Armstrong).

Joseph C. Smith's Orchestra

This seminal dance band was a consistent hitmaker between 1917-1922. Its biggest sellers were "Smiles" (guest vocal by Harry Macdonough; VIctor 18473, 1918), "Hindustan" (Victor 18507, 1918/19), "The Vamp" (with Murray and Macdonough on vocals; Victor 18594, 1919), "Yearning" (Victor 18603, 1919), "That Naughty Waltz" (Victor 18650, 1920), and "Sally--Medley" (Victor 35706, 1922).

Smith, Mamie, and Her Jazz Hounds (d. October 30, 1946; 56)

As the first blues vocalist to record, she blazed a trail followed by Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and others. Smith's first hit, "Crazy Blues" (Okeh 4169, 1920/21), was her biggest seller.

Smith, "Whispering" Jack (d. May 1951; 52)

Smith found it necessary to develop his intimate half-singing, half-talking style following an injury caused by an exploding gas shell in World War I. He enjoyed more than a dozen hit recordings during the first few years of the electronic era, including the top sellers "Gimme A Lil' Kiss, Will Ya, Huh?" (Victor 19978, 1926) and "Me and My Shadow" (Victor 20626, 1927).

Sousa's Band (November 6, 1854-March 5, 1932)

John Philip Sousa played violin in a number of orchestras prior to assuming the post of U.S. Marine Band director (1880-1891). His reputation rested with the memorable marches he composed during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Due to his lack of interest in recorded music, his band was largely conducted by trombonist Arthur Pryor, with additional support from cornetists Walter B. Rogers and Herbert L. Clarke, in the studio. Sousa preferred the concert medium; his band is reputed to have given more than 10,000 concerts around the world. His lengthy hit run included the following top sellers: "El Capitan March" (Columbia, 1895), "Washington Post March" (Columbia, 1895), "The Stars and Stripes Forever" (Columbia 532, 1897; new version, Gram-o-Phone 306, 1901), and "In the Good Old Summer Time" (vocal refrain by Harry Macdonough and S.H. Dudley; Victor 1833, 1903).

Specht, Paul, and His Orchestra (d. 1954; about 59)

Specht enjoyed more than a dozen bestsellers in the 1920s, most notably "Roses of Picardy" (Columbia 3870, 1923) and "Waltz of Long Ago" (Columbia 13, 1924).

Spencer, Elizabeth (d. April 1930; about 54)

Spencer was a steady hit-maker between 1911-1923. Her most popular recordings were "When the Morning Glories Grow" (with the Sterling Trio; Victor 18403, 1918) and "Sweet Little Buttercup" (with the Shannon Four; Victor 18427, 1918).

Spencer, Grace

Spencer, a soprano, specialized in Broadway material. She was the first woman to record for Victor; however, she had greater success on the Edison label, including the top seller "Tell Me, Pretty Maiden" (with Harry Macdonough, Edison 7758, 1901).

Spencer, Len (r.n.: Leonard Garfield Spencer; February 12, 1867-December 15, 1914)

Reputed to have benn America's first nationally-known recording star, Spencer's career embraced a dizzying array of styles; sentimental ballads, minstrel songs, dramatic recitations, and comic duets (with Murray, Cal Stewart, Ada Jones, and others) which enabled him to assume many ethnic roles. His extensive inventory of hits included the following top sellers: "Little 'Liza Loves You" (Columbia, 1891), "Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom Der E" (Columbia, 1892), "The Old Folks At Home" (New Jersey, 1892), "Near It" (New Jersey, 1893), "Mamie, Come and Kiss Your Honey Boy" (New Jersey, 1893), "Little Alabama Coon" (Columbia 7156, 1895), "Dat New Bully" (Columbia 2107, 1895), "A Hot Time in the Old Town" (Columbia 7266, 1897), "Oh, Mr. Johnson, Turn Me Loose" (Columbia 7239, 1897), "My Gal Is a Highborn Lady" (Columbia 7252, 1897), "I Don't Like No Cheap Man" (Columbia 7440, 1898), "Hello! Ma Baby" (Berliner 05, 1899), "Ma Tiger Lily" (Columbia 7502, 1900), and "Arkansaw Traveler" (remake of 1900 Columbia hit; biggest seller of pre-1905 era; Victor 1101, 1902).

Stanley, Aileen (d. March 24, 1982; 89)

Stanley projected an blues-influenced sensuality that was rare in white female vocalists of that era. One of Billy Murray's regular singing partners in the 1920s, Stanley also recorded many hits with other collaborators and as a solo artist, most notably "Sweet Indiana Home" (Victor 18922, 1922) and "When My Sugar Walks Down the Street" (with Gene Austin; Victor 19585, 1925).

Stanley, Frank C. (r.n.: William Stanley Grinsted; d. December 12, 1910; 41)

Considered the major bass singer of the acoustic era, Stanley began his career playing the banjo, accompanying such luminaries at Arthur Collins on late-1890s cylinders. He went on to fame as leader--and manager--of the Peerless Quartet. He also had many hits as a soloist and via collaborations with other stars. His top selling recordings included "Blue Bell" (Edison 8655, 1904), "Good Evening, Caroline" (with Elsie Stevenson, Victor 5627, 1909), and "Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! (Victor 16531, 1910). During the latter years of his life, Stanley served as elected alderman and public school commissioner of Orange, New Jersey.

Steel, John (d. June 24, 1971; 71)

In addition to starring in several Broadway musicals, the tenor enjoyed over a dozen hits between 1919-1924, including two top sellers, "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody" (Victor 18588, 1919) and "The Love Nest" (Victor 18676, 1920).

Sterling Trio

Comprised of three members of the Peerless Quartet (Henry Burr, Albert Campbell, and John Meyer), the ensemble performed regularly as part of the Eight Victor Artists troupe and had a steady run of bestsellers between 1916-1922, most notably "Hawaiian Butterfly" (Victor 18272, 1917), "Where the Morning Glories Grow" (with Elizabeth Spencer, Victor 18403, 1918), and "That Tumble-Down Shack in Athlone" (Columbia 2698, 1919).

Stevenson, Elsie

In addition to very successful solo career, Stevenson was a member of the Lyric Quartet and Trinity Choir, sang on the early Victor Light Opera discs, and enjoyed duet hits with a number of partner (most frequently with her manager, Frank C. Stanley). She recorded the following top sellers: "Because You're You" (Victor 5020, 1907), "Are You Sincere?" (Victor 5467, 1908), "Good Evening, Caroline" (with Stanley; Victor 5627, 1909), and "Shine On, Harvest Moon" (billed as "Harry Macdonough and Miss Walton", the latter believed to be a pseudonym for Stevenson; Victor 16259, 1909).

Stewart, Cal (d. December 7, 1919; 63)

Stewart was close to 40 before he began recording; his early life was spent working on trains and in circuses, medicine shows, and vaudeville. His cylinders and discs made fictional New England farmer, "Uncle Josh Weathersby", and the town of Pumpkin Center (allegedly created by another vaudeville performer) leading symbols of Americana in the years immediately prior to and following the turn of the century. His droll humor has been compared to that of Mark Twain and Will Rogers, both of whom were personal friends. His lengthy inventory of bestsellers spanned the years 1898-1921, including the following top selling hits: "Uncle Josh's Arrival in New York" (Columbia 14000, 1898), "I'm Old But I'm Awfully Tough (Laughing Song)" (Edison 3903, 1898), "Jim Lawson's Horse Trade With Deacon Witherspoon" (Edison 7847, 1901), "Uncle Josh's Huskin' Bee Dance" (Edison 7861, 1901), and "Uncle Josh on an Automobile" (Columbia 1518, 1903).

Wilbur Sweatman's Original Jazz Band (d. March 9, 1961; 79)

Sweatman started out as a clarinetist in circus bands at the turn of the century. He enjoyed popularity in the twilight of the World War I era doing mainstream interpretations of then current fads (e.g., the blues, jazz, Broadway musicals), including "Everybody's Crazy 'Bout the Doggone Blues (But I'm Happy)" (Columbia 2548, 1918) and "I'll Say She Does" (Columbia 2752, 1919).

Tally, Harry (d. August 16, 1939; 73)

A member of the Empire City Quartet (which had no recording success of note, but was acclaimed on vaudeville) during the first two decades of the century, the tenor had about a dozen best- sellers, most notably the top seller, "Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie" (Victor 4551, 1906).

"That Girl" Quartet

Comprised of Harriet Keys, Allie Thomas, Precis Thompson, and Helen Summers, it was one of the first female vocal groups to make recordings. While "Honey Love" (Victor 16648, 19911) was probably the Quartet's most popular disc, "My Little Persian Rose" (Victor 17270, 1913; the flip side, "Sympathy", by Helen Clark and Walter Van Brunt, was a top-selling disc) was more widely distributed.

Trix, Helen (d. November 18, 1951; early 60s)

Trix was a popular vaudeville performer whose career peaked when she teamed with her sister Josephine in Great Britain during the 1920s. Her biggest seller was "The Bird on Nellie's Hat" (Victor 4904, 1907).

Tucker, Sophie (r.n.: Sonia Kalish; d. February 9, 1966; 81)

Billed as "The Last of the Red-Hot Mamas," Tucker parlayed a bold, sassy style to rise to the top of the vaudeville pantheon. She played an influential role in introducing many successful songs, some of which she never recorded herself. Her most popular recording (her theme song), "Some of These Days," was a bestseller on two different occasions (Edison Amberol 691, 1911; new version with Ted Lewis and His Band, Columbia 826, 1927).

U.S. Marine Band

Directed by John Philip Sousa in the early 1890s, "the President's band" is recognized as the first commercially successful recording act. Its top selling cylinders included the following marches: "Semper Fidelis" (Columbia, 1890), "Washington Post" (Columbia, 1890), "The Thunderer" (Columbia, 1890), and "The Liberty Bell" (Columbia, 1894).

Van and Schenck (r.n.: Gus Van and Joe Schenck; d. March 12, 1968, 80, and June 28, 1930, 39)

The musical comedians were a popular team in vaudeville, radio, and Broadway shows. They enjoyed a long string of hits between 1917-1928, most notably the top sellers, "For Me and My Gal" (Victor 18258, 1917), "Ain't We Got Fun?" (Columbia 3412, 1921), and "Carolina in the Morning" (Columbia 3712, 1923).

Van Brunt, Walter

The precocious Van Brunt was turning out hits as early as age 17. Walsh related that he was Thomas Edison's favorite tenor; he allegedly sold more Edison Diamond Discs than any artist save Billy Murray. He changed his last name to Scanlan in 1917. Some sources have attributed this decision to Edison's advice so that the singer might avoid the anti-German backlash building up at that time. Others indicate that Victor Herbert suggested that Van Brunt take on a more "Irish" name for his leading role in the composer's 1917 operetta, Eileen. Van Brunt was frequently associated with Billy Murray during his career; he started out subbing for him in the American Quartet and in duets with Ada Jones for Columbia when Murray signed an exclusive contract with Victor and Edison. Later, from 1929-1933, they hosted a radio show and recorded together as a team. He had some 40 hits between 1909-1916, the biggest of which was "Sympathy" (with Helen Clark; Victor 17270, 1913).

Van Eps, Fred (d. November 22, 1960; 81)

Following in Vess Ossman's footsteps as "king of the banjo," Van Eps often recorded as part of a trio with pianist Felix Arndt and saxophonist Nathan Glantz. He recorded almost a dozen hits, most notably "Blaze Away" (Edison 8025, 1902) and "Red Pepper--A Spicy Rag" (Victor 17033, 1912).

Victor Light Opera Co.

The majority of Victor singing stars allegedly participated at one time or another in its sessions. Rogers conducted its records through 1916, and Nat Shilkret took over during the latter years. The group was a successful hitmaker between 1909-1926.

Waldorf-Astoria Dance Orchestra

The orchestra, directed by Joseph Knecht, recorded several bestsellers, including "Beautiful Ohio" (Victor 18526, 1919).

Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians (d. July 29, 1984; 84)

The dance band enjoyed a lengthy hit run spanning the years 1923-1954. Perhaps best remembered for his "glee club" featured on radio shows during the 1930s and 1940s, Waring also hosted a television show in the early 1950s.

Weber & Fields (r.n.: Joe Weber and Moses Schanfield, aka Lew Fields; May 10, 1942, 74, and July 20, 1941, 75)

The beloved vaudeville comedy team was active from the 1880s through World War I. The twosome also starred in several Broadway productions and released several bestsellers, most notably "The Baseball Game" (Columbia 2092, January 13, 1917).

Werrenrath, Reinald (d. September 12, 1953; 70)

Werrenrath was associated with the New York Metropolitan Opera between 1919-1921 and allegedly headlined in more than 3,000 concerts. The featured baritone on many Victor Light Opera Co. recordings, he was a member of the Orpheus Quartet and also had many hits as a solo artist, most notably "As Long As the World Rolls On" (Edison 9662, 1908), "The Angelus" (with Christie MacDonald and the Victor Male Chorus; Victor 70099, 1913), and "Hello, Frisco!" (Victor 17837, 1915).

Wheeler, Elizabeth

The soprano enjoyed close to a dozen hits, many of which were duets (some with husband William Wheeler). Her most popular recordings included "When I Marry You" (with Harry Macdonough; Victor 16433, 1910), "Meet Me To-Night In Dreamland" (with Harry Anthony; Edison 10290, 1910), and "At the End of a Beautiful Day" (billed as "Jane Kenyon"; Victor 18065, 1916).

Whiteman, Paul, and His Orchestra (March 28, 1890-December 29, 1967)

While his right to the 1920s appellation, "king of jazz," has been discredited by hindsight, Whiteman was undoubtedly the most acclaimed bandleader of the pre-swing era. His band, formed in 1919 after stints as a violinist and violist in the Denver and San Francisco Symphony Orchestras, included such luminaries as Henry Busse (trumpet), Ferde Grofe (piano/arranger), Bix Beiderbecke (trumpet), and Bing Crosby. It gained further recognition for premiering George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue". Second only to Crosby as a hitmaking entity, Whiteman was produced many top sellers, including "Whispering" (sold over two million copies; Victor 18690, 1920).

Williams, Bert (November 12, 1874-March 4, 1922)

Criticized in his time for helping to perpetuate certain African American stereotypes, Williams was nevertheless the first of his race to become a Broadway headliner. He and partner George Walker debuted in that venue in 1896, remaining a popular comedy team until the latter's death in 1910. Williams continued to work in vaudeville, the Ziegfield Follies (1910-1918), and as a recording artist. His hits included the following top-selling discs: "Good Morning, Carrie" (Victor 997, 1902), "Nobody" (co-written by Williams; Columbia 3423, 1906), "Let It Alone" (Columbia 3504, 1906), "He's a Cousin of Mine" (Columbia 3536, 1907), "Play That Barber-Shop Chord" (Columbia 929, 1910), "O Death, Where Is Thy Sting?" (Columbia 2652, 1919), and "It's Nobody's Business But My Own" (Columbia 2750, 1919).

Clarence Williams' Blue Five (d. November 6, 1965; 67)

The multi-talented Williams won acclaim as a jazz composer (e.g., "West End Blues"), pianist, combo leader, and musical director (Okeh Records). He also accompanied blues singers such as Bessie Smith and Ethel Waters. He had several bestsellers, most notably "Tain't Nobody's Bus'ness If I Do" (Okeh 4966, 1924) and "Everybody Loves My Baby (But My Baby Don't Love Nobody But Me)" (Okeh 8181, 1925).

Williams, Billy (r.n.: William Banks; 1877-1915)

The Australian singer-comedian, known as "The Man in the Velvet Suit," began his career with a small variety company in 1895. He then graduated to pantomime and musical comedy. Williams moved to London in 1900 and found work as the assistant-manager of a music hall. He moved into performing while also developing his skills as a songwriter. He began recording two-minute Edison Standard cylinders in 1907, his first (No. 13539) being the self-penned "John, John, Go and Put Your Trousers On" (which became one of his most popular records). He remained successful ("Great Britain's all-time most sensational performer for the phonograph"-- Jim Walsh, Hobbies Magazine) up until his death at 36 or 37.

Wills, Nat (July 11, 1873-December 9, 1917)

Wills started out in the 1890s as end man of the Ideal Minstrels in Washington; by 1900 he was a very popular vaudeville comedian. By then he already known as the "gentlemanly tramp" and went on to become, in Walsh's words (Hobbies, June 1951, p. 20), "the greatest master of parody writing and singing of his day." His first release, "No News" or "What Killed the Dog" (Victor 5612, 1909) was his biggest seller and one of the most consistently popular talking numbers ever recorded.