Paul Whiteman and the hits of 1921

Van and Schenck

Paul WhitemanPaul Whiteman had five of the 12 #1 hits for the year 1921, all instrumentals. Who WAS this guy? “Whiteman’s skill at the viola resulted in a place in the Denver Symphony Orchestra by 1907, joining the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in 1914.

In 1918, Whiteman conducted a 12-piece U.S. Navy band, the Mare Island Naval Training Camp Symphony Orchestra (NTCSO). After the war, he formed the Paul Whiteman Orchestra.”

Here’s some info from the Syncopated Times. “Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra was the most popular band of the 1920s and represented the apex of jazz to the general public.

“Over the years, critics and some musicians like Eddie Condon, have not had kind words to say about the band and have tended to represent Whiteman as a bad influence on the music in his attempts to ‘Make a lady out of Jazz.'” What the heck does THAT mean?

“In the 1920s he dominated the scene and hired the best White hot musicians like Bix Beiderbecke, Frankie Trumbauer, Eddie Lang, Joe Venuti, Jack Teagarden, and many more to play in his band.

The standards

“So, what was it that has led Whiteman’s name to be dragged through the mud in the annals of jazz history? Paul Whiteman being the most popular Jazz band leader of the Jazz Age is blamed for the racism in America that denied African-American musicians the credit that they deserved in the history of Jazz.”

On the other hand, he made it palatable for the (white) masses. That said, by all measures, he was very good at it. Here’s a pathfinder from the University at Albany about Whiteman.

“The Paul Whiteman Orchestra introduced many jazz standards in the 1920s, including ‘From Monday On,’ written by Harry Barris and sung by the Rhythm Boys featuring Bing Crosby and Irene Taylor; and ‘Rhapsody in Blue,’ composed by George Gershwin who played piano on the Paul Whiteman recording in 1924.”

They’re #1

Again, I used the Discography of American Historical Recordings, which I discussed here. I found all of the tracks except Wabash Blues and Margie.

Wang Wang Blues – Whiteman (Victor), six weeks at #1, gold record.
Wabash Blues – Isham Jones (Brunswick), six weeks at #1, gold record.
Cherie – Whiteman (Victor), six weeks at #1.

Song of India – Whiteman (Victor), five weeks at #1.
Say It With Music – Whiteman (Victor), five weeks at #1.
My Mammy – Whiteman (Victor), five weeks at #1.
Margie – Eddie Cantor (Emerson), five weeks at #1. “After all is said and done, there is really only one. Oh! Margie, Margie, it’s you.” This is VERY familiar. I have a Ray Charles version of this, but that’s not where I first heard it.

All By Myself  – Ted Lewis Jazz Band (Columbia), four weeks at #1.
O-H-I-O  (Oh-My!-O) – Al Jolson (Columbia), four weeks at #1.

Make Believe – Nora Bayes (Columbia), three weeks at #1.
Look For The Silver Lining – Marion Harris (Columbia), three weeks at #1.

Ain’t We Got Fun – Van and Schenck (Columbia), two weeks at #1. Related to Arthur?

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.