Songwriters Friends



William Thomas Murray was born in Philadelphia on May 25, 1877. His parents had migrated to the US from County Kerry, Ireland as young adults and in 1883 the family relocated to Denver, Colorado (his early nickname: ‘The Denver Nightingale’).

Murray joined the Harry Leaviitt’s High Rollers troupe as an actor in 1893 and spent the next ten years honing his skills as an MC and song and dace man for a succession of minstrel shows and vaudeville troupes. In 1897, Murray traveled to San Francisco with aims at securing employment as phonograph artists for Edison cylinders. He began recording songs for Edison in a variety of styles including ‘coon’ songs, sentimental ballads, religious standards and other popular styles.

In 1889, he joined the Al G. Field Minstrels as a blackface singer and eccentric dancer traveling to the East Coast. Arriving in New York, Murray and songwriter Paul Dresser began plugging songs to phonograph companies. He quickly distinguished himself as a versatile interpreter of many genres. Journalist Jim Walsh would later write in the Hobbies magazine that ‘Billy Murray’s records were the only ones so clear you could catch every word on first hearing. This was partly because there was a certain ‘ping’ to his voice that cut sharp into the wax and he was smart enough to nasalize certain syllables to make important words and phrases stand out.’

Murray secured solo recording deals with Edison and Victor Records and from 1903 to the mid-1920’s released a string of recordings that hit #1 on the charts including ‘Bedelia’ (1904), ‘Navajo’ (1904), ‘Meet Me In St. Louis, Louis’ (1904), ‘Alexander’ (1904), ‘Come Take a Trip in My Air-Ship’ (1905), ‘Yankee Doodle Boy’ (1905), ‘Give My Regards to Broadway’ (1905), ‘In My Merry Oldsmobile’ (1905), ‘Everybody Works But Father’ (1905), ‘The Grand Old Rag’ (1906), ‘Harrigan’ (1907), ‘Under Any Old Flag At All’ (1908), ‘Carrie (Carrie Marry Harry)’ (1910), ‘I Love a Piano’ (1916), ‘Pretty Baby’ (1916) and ‘That Old Gang of Mine’ (1923).

To avoid a saturation of solo recordings, Murray was teamed with other best selling artists including Bob Roberts and Len Spencer. His most success pairing, however, was with the premier female singer of the day, Miss Ada Jones. He also collaborated with vocal groups including Haydn Quartet, the American Quartet, Peerless Quartet, the Heidelberg Quintet, and the Eight Famous Victor Artists. With his collaborators, Murray had #1 hits with ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’ (1908), ‘By the Light of the Silvery Moon’ (1910), ‘Let’s Take an Old Fashioned Walk’ (1907), ‘Wouldn’t You Like to Have Me For A Sweetheart’ (1908), ‘When We are M-A-Double-R-I-E-D’ (1908), ‘Shine on Harvest Moon’ (1909), ‘Be My Little Baby Bumble Bee’ (1912), ‘You’re the Flower of My Heart, Sweet Adeline’ (1904), ‘Let Me Call You Sweetheart’ (1911), ‘I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be A Soldier’ (1915), ‘My Bird of Paradise’, ‘The Lights of My Home Town’ (1916), ‘I Don’t Know Where I’m Going But I’m On My Way’ (1918), ‘Because’ (1900), ‘In the Good Old Summer Time’ (1903), ‘Toyland’ (1904), ‘Blue Bell’ (1904), ‘Dearie’ (1905), ‘How’d You Like to Spoon With Me’ (1906), ‘Sunbonnet Sue’ (1908), ‘Put On Your Old Gray Bonnet’ (1909), ‘Casey Jones’ (1910), ‘Call Me Up Some Rainy Afternoon’ (1910), ‘Oh You Beautiful Doll’ (1911), ‘Moonlight Bay’ (1912), ‘Everybody Two Step’ (1912), ‘Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm’ (1914), ‘It’s a Long, Long Way To Tipperary’ (1914), ‘Chinatown, My Chinatown’ (1915), ‘Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh!’ (1917), ‘Over There’ (1917), ‘Goodbye Broadway, Hello France’ (1917) and ‘Waiting for the Robert E. Lee’ (1912).

By the 1920’s, Murray was still successful despite the changing style and sound in American popular music. He continued recording for the major record labels of the time as a solo artist and in new duet pairings with Ed Smalle and Aileen Stanley and Walter Scanlan. In the 1930’s, Jim Walsh noted “He sang old-time popular songs for the movies in such productions as the ‘Bouncing Ball’ comedies. He even imitated animals for the talking and became well known as a radio actor, playing character parts in the Parket Family series and other popular shows.”

Murray continued recording into the 1940’s with his last recording, the comic dialogue ‘Casey and Cohen in the Army’ being released in 1943. With the onset on heart troubles in 1944, Murray entered retirement in Freeport, Long Island, NY. He died at Jones Beach on August 17, 1954, survived by his wife Madeline.

Artists

American Quartet
Andrews Sisters
Louis Armstrong (Satchmo)
Fred Astaire
Chet Atkins
Gene Austin (Voice of the Southland)
Gene Autry
Nora Bayes
Brook Benton
Ben Bernie
Connee Boswell
Fanny Brice
Henry Burr
Cab Calloway
Glen Campbell
Albert Campbell
Carter Family (First Family of Country Music)
Enrico Caruso
Ray Charles
Patsy Cline
Larry Clinton
Rosemary Clooney
Nat Cole (King)
Arthur Collins
Perry Como
Bing Crosby
Bob Crosby
Frank Crumit
Vic Damone
Sammy Davis Jr.
Doris Day
Tommy Dorsey
Jimmy Dorsey
Cliff Edwards
Ruth Etting
Shep Fields
Eddie Fisher
Ella Fitzgerald
Tennessee Ernie Ford
Connie Francis
Aretha Franklin (Queen of Soul)
Lefty Frizzell
Jan Garber
Judy Garland
George J. Gaskin (The Silver Voice Irish Tenor)
Marvin Gaye
Benny Goodman (King of Swing)
Glen Gray
Byron G. Harlan
Marion Harris
Charles Harrison
Haydn Quartet
Dick Haymes
Horace Heidt
Woody Herman
Billie Holiday (Lady Day)
Whitney Houston
Eddy Howard
Ink Spots
Harry James
Lewis James
Al Jolson
Ada Jones
George Jones
Sammy Kaye
Hal Kemp
Wayne King (Waltz King)
Pee Wee King
Kay Kyser
Frankie Laine
Brenda Lee
Ted Lewis
Jerry Lee Lewis (The Killer)
Guy Lombardo
Vincent Lopez
Harry MacDonough
Freddy Martin
Dean Martin
Johnny Mathis
John McCormack
Glenn Miller
Mills Brothers
Vaughn Monroe
Russ Morgan
Billy Murray (The Denver Nightingale)
J.W. Myers
Ozzie Nelson
Olivia Newton-John
George Olsen
Original Dixieland Jazz Band
Vess L. Ossman (The King of the Banjo)
Buck Owens
Patti Page
Minnie Pearl
Peerless Quartet
Peter, Paul & Mary
Elvis Presley (The King)
Ray Price
Prince's Orchestra
Dan Quinn
Leo Reisman
Paul Robeson
Roy Rogers
Linda Ronstadt
Diana Ross
Ben Selvin
Artie Shaw
Nat Shilkret
Dinah Shore
Frank Sinatra
Bessie Smith (Empress of the Blues)
Sousa's Band
Len Spencer
Dusty Springfield
Jo Stafford
Frank Stanley
Kay Starr
Cal Stewart
Barbra Streisand
The 4 Seasons
The 5th Dimension
The Byrds
The Carter Family
The Commodores
The Drifters
The Everly Brothers
The Four Tops
The Impressions
The Miracles
The Platters
The Righteous Brothers
The Spinners
The Supremes
The Temptations
Ernest Tubb (Texas Troubadour)
Sophie Tucker
Van & Schenck
Walter Van Brunt
Sarah Vaughan
Fred Waring
Dionne Warwick
Ted Weems
Kitty Wells
Paul Whiteman
Margaret Whiting
Bert Williams
Andy Williams
Teddy Wilson
Tammy Wynette