[Dixielandjazz] Hoagie's Stardust

dingle at baldwin-net.com dingle at baldwin-net.com
Sun Oct 1 21:54:58 PDT 2006

Bill Haesler wrote:

>>Did Hoagie write the verse to Stardust?   The way I heard it,  the song
>>originally had no verse, but Bix Beiderbeck added it for him. So, what can you
>>folks out there tell me.  The verse itself is so gorgeous, it sounds like
>>something that Bix would write, so I've accepted that story.  Is it something
>>that I've taken hook line and sinker?   I have wanted to know for years<.
>Dear Bill,
>Very long. 
>We discussed this one in July last year, under the subject heading
>'Verses' then 'Stardust'. Fred Spencer kicked off the 'verses' theme to be
>followed by Charlie Hull with: "I read somewhere that Don Redmond
>[he meant Redman] composed the verse to Star Dust.  Is that true?"
>To which Hal Vickery replied:
>"I'm playing the 10/31/27 Gennett recording by Hoagy Carmichael and his Pals
>right now.  It starts with the verse.  AFAIK this is the first recording of
>the song.  I don't see any way that Redman could have written it. I've
>always heard that the verse was inspired by a lick by Bix."
>Charlie countered with: "I believe it was in James Lincoln Collier's "Louis
>Armstrong" that I read about Hoagy and some musicians being at a recording
>session and Redmond commenting that the song, allegedly theretofore without
>a verse, needed one; and that he commenced to write the one credited to
>Carmichael.  I hope that someone will disprove that and Hoagy can get full
>credit. Actually I don't care much one way or the other.  I just love to
>play it." 
>Hal then returned with: "I found an excerpt from the book "Stardust
>Melodies" that purports to refute the Redman story on the Random House web
>site.  The book is a "biography of twelve of America's most popular songs"
>and was written by Will Friedwald. Here are the relevant paragraphs: "It has
>also been widely reported (by Alec Wilder, among others) that the verse was
>added only later, at about the time Mitchell Parish wrote his famous lyric.
>But the verse is there on the 1927 premiere recording by Hoagy and pals.
>Just listen: the disc opens with a guitar intro (the instrument was just
>beginning to be widely heard in the new age of electrical recordings; banjos
>had dominated in the acoustic era) before the trumpet takes the now famous
>verse, which can be heard on virtually all the early 'jazz' versions of the
>tune. The apocryphal story of the verse being written later on was to work
>against Carmichael: for years a rumor persisted that the verse wasn't
>written by Carmichael at all but by Don Redman, a composer and arranger who
>worked for Carmichael's publisher, Irving Mills. As with the persistent
>gossip that Fats Waller actually wrote some of Jimmy McHugh's songs, there's
>nothing to back it up. "Although Redman didn't write the verse, that
>pioneering jazz orchestrator (also saxophonist, bandleader, and novelty
>vocalist) does play an important role in the career of "Star Dust." Redman,
>who had spent the earlier part of the twenties as musical director for
>Fletcher Henderson's band, was by then the leader of McKinney's Cotton
>Pickers. The McKinney's band, based in Detroit, seems to have been the first
>to record "Star Dust" after Carmichael, working under the pseudonym of "The
>Chocolate Dandies." (This was in October of 1928, nearly a year after
>Carmichael had recorded the entire song, verse included.) Carmichael brought
>his own chart to Detroit and met with Redman, who, according to Sudhalter,
>"filled it out and corrected the voicings," although he left it in
>Carmichael's key, D major. "Apart from the evidence of the verse existing on
>the original Gennett recording, there's the evidence of one's own ears. A
>single hearing of its melody, which is even more meandering and ruminative
>than the chorus's, should be enough to convince anyone that the verse is by
>the same hand that penned the central chorus melody. The chord changes in
>the verse are slightly more conventional than they are in the chorus, as
>we'll see, but the melody of the verse is either the work of the same
>mind-it uses the same kind of range and intervals-or the mind of a darn
>clever forger." Hall finished all this with: "The really relevant portion
>seems to be the parenthetical statement in the second paragraph."
>I then waded in with: "Dear Charlie, Regarding your comment: I believe it
>was in James Lincoln Collier's "Louis Armstrong" that I read about Hoagy and
>some musicians being at a recording session and Redmond commenting that the
>song, allegedly theretofore without a verse, needed one; and that he
>commenced to write the one credited to Carmichael. Thank you for that lead.
>James Lincoln Collier does indeed say, in brackets -"It should be noted that
>the wonderful verse,which so beautifully reflects the main theme, was not
>written by Carmichael, but by Don Redman." (Page 246 Pan Books paperback
>edition. 1985.) No mention though of where his information came from. Your
>story may point to an early origin, perhaps picked up by Mr Collier."
>Then Sheik couldn't resist: "Collier is a *terrible* "historian", and on top
>of that, he's dishonest. I wouldn't trust *anything* he says. He makes
>oodles of unsupported statements/assertions, and all too often his footnotes
>are meaningless--he obviously puts many of 'em in just to say he's got
>footnotes. His appearance as a talking head in Burns "Jazz" is another
>strike against the series...The only reason I don't throw his Armstrong,
>Goodman and Ellington books away is because I paid for them; since I have
>better books on all three, methinks I'll do that the next time I put my
>hands on that shelf... No, don't ask me for details; those books simply
>aren't worth my time..."
>I followed on Hal's post with: "Looks like you've nailed it, with the quotes
>from Will Friedwald's  "Stardust Melodies". The prior-composition claim I
>was trying to recall earlier is included on the Amazon site as part of its
>publicity for Richard Sudhalter's book 'Stardust Melody' (2002).   (The
>similarity for the book titles is a bit confusing, unfortunately. Both were
>published, independently, in April 2002. I do not have either of them yet.)
>Here is the Amazon site quote: "  'Who really wrote Star Dust?', August 19,
>2002 Hoagy Carmichael's college roommate, Hank Wells, claimed all his life
>that Hoagy, consciously or subconsciously, stole Star Dust from him. People
>in his home- town of Lake Bluff, Ill., said that this "broke his heart."
>Wells visited back and forth with the parents of a friend of mine, and she
>personally heard him tell this story. He played piano at her wedding.. I
>have read Hoagy's own words about Star Dust quoted in a book and they are
>cryptic. He does indeed imply that the song came out of nowhere into his
>mind. Two facts: (a) What if a man wrote one great song that was unusual and
>never wrote another? Why is that? (b) Why could one man write such a great
>song and then never equal or exceed it in his long writing career. Why? Only
>one set of facts fits that scenario. Hank Wells, heartbroken, never wrote
>again. Hoagy couldn't write anything so good on his own. Ccarf. "
>This appears to be the basis of the article I had recalled, but which I have
>yet to locate in my files. This afternoon. I have also been looking at other
>books, including the following, and find that the 'story' of who was
>involved, and when, has become a mess. 1.  'American Popular
>Song'. Alec Wilder. 1972. Who mentions a 1929 composition date and claims
>that the verse was added when Parish wrote the lyrics. 2.  'You Must
>Remember This...' by Mark White. 1983. Rehash of other known information
>plus a story involving Harry Hostetter. 3.  'Tin Pan Alley' by David A
>Jason. 1988. Mentions that Mills Music published [and presumably
>copyrighted] "Stardust" as an instrumental number in Jan 1929. Parish added
>the lyrics in May 1929, but it did not become popular until Isham Jones
>recorded it, as a 'dreamy ballad', in May 1930. 4.  'Poets of Tin Pan Alley'
>by Philip Furia. 1990. Who states that it was composed in 1927 and that
>Hoagy's University of Indiana classmate Stu Gorrell named it "Star Dust"
>(two words). However he perpetuates the story that Carmichael added the
>verse when Irving Mills called Mitchell Parish in to write the words. [Not
>true as we know that the verse is contained in the first Carmichael & His
>Pals recording on 31 Oct 1927.] Mr Furia claims that it became a hit when
>Cab Calloway introduced it at the Cotton Club in 1929. [Calloway's recording
>of the song was not made until 12 Oct 1931.] 5.  'Jelly Roll, Bix, and
>Hoagy.' by Rick Kennedy. 1994. A long and interesting account of the tune on
>pages 129-132, including some quotes from Carmichael's 1965 book 'Sometimes
>I Wonder' implying that Hoagy did not really know where the tune came from!
>>From the above it can be seen that the 1931 copyright date (initially quoted
>by me) and given by 'Kinkle' is obviously in error. Mention has been made of
>the Frank Sinatra versions of "Stardust", including a verse-only one (where
>did I read that, and is this the one Fred Spencer referred to in the email
>which started this long thread?). To save me time, can someone please
>provide details of when they were recorded by Sinatra and with which record
>company? [I then included the words for the verse and chorus.]
>Hal then replied: "Good stuff! The section quoted in the Random House page
>addresses Carmichael's story of its composition, and the author concludes
>that Carmichael was working on the song as early as 1926 when he was in
>Florida trying to establish himself as a lawyer. I tend to discount stories
>of people who say songs were stolen from them, particularly songs as complex
>as Star Dust.  Carmichael had already published tunes.  Riverboat Shuffle
>was recorded as early as 1924 that I know of.  One thing I noticed about the
>Hank Wells story is that people say they heard him tell the story, but there
>is no one who says that they (or their parents or grandparents or whatever)
>actually heard Wells actually play the tune at the piano.  Was there anyone
>at Indiana University who heard it?  Why didn't Wells sue Carmichael?  When
>did Wells first tell the story?  All kinds of questions come to mind.  And
>it's not exactly like Carmichael never wrote a great song after that,
>despite the conclusion reached in your quote.  Hoagy wrote Skylark, Georgia
>on My Mind, and a number of other songs that may not "meet or exceed" Star
>Dust but certainly aren't chopped liver!  He was certainly a prolific
>writer.  Check out the site www.hoagy.com , a site his son Hoagy B.
>Carmichael put together, which lists in alphabetical order everything that
>Carmichael published.  Interestingly enough this gives the copyright date of
>"Stardust" as January 5, 1928.  Perhaps the 1929 copyright date was the date
>Carmichael assigned the copyright to Mills. As for the question about the
>Sinatra "verse only" recording of Stardust (or Star Dust), it appears in the
>"Sinatra and Strings" album from 1962 (source:
>    http://newsummer.com/mp3.shtml ).
>Sinatra was with Reprise by that time. I've heard it, but I don't have the
>Don Ingle also contributed with some very informative comments regarding
>Bix's influence on Hoagy, but did not comment on the main claim. I can
>forward this too, if you are interested.
>Well, Bill Sharp. That should keep you quite for a while.
>Kind regards, 
>PS: I did finally track down and listened to the Sinatra verse-only
>Dixielandjazz mailing list
>Dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com
Wow -- Bill. Quite a summary.
I can  add this as being what my father, Red Ingle, told me about being 
around Hoagy when workng with the Goldkette bands (several units as well 
as a stint with the Victor Band), and that he had heard Hoagy playing 
the song, and also working on a verse for it.  That it might have been 
from a lick of Bix's, that is a strong possibility. Certainly he used 
Bixian inspiration  some years later when he wrote  Skylark. It was 
often  called by musicains "Bix Licks." The triplet figures a sure give 
Hoagy joined dad, Andy Secrest and some other Detroit Goldkette players 
to go with Harold Stokes  Goldkette unit to open  the new PlayMore 
Ballroom in Kansas City, owned by Goldkette and his partner Charlie 
Horvath. This was later after the breakup of the Victor band in 1927.
Hoagy also wrote about coming back from Florida to visit the Indiana 
frat house where the Goldkette Band,  playing adate at the college, was 
at a party aferwards. Hoagy played (accoring to dad,) what was to be 
named Stardust. Hoagy recounts this visit in his book "Stardust Road" as 
well as noting Red's presence  there doing some funny song schtick.
I offer this as hearsay -- I heard it from dad, who was there to hear it 
happen. That, for me, was a reliable source. Dad would have been 100 
this coming Nov. 7, so history is getting to be more ancient every click 
of the clock.
Agan, Bill, what a great summary.
Oh -- by the way, since Riverboat Shuffle was mentioned, Hoagy called it 
Free Wheeling before the publisher entered the  picture and added lyric 
and title.
Don Ingle

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