Composer, lyricist and pianist Cliff Friend was one of the most prolific and sought after songwriters on Tin Pan Alley during the 1920’s and 30’s.
He was born on October 1, 1893 in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of the first violinist with the Woods Theater Orchestra. He was educated at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music with the ambition to become a concert pianist, but he was stricken with tuberculosis. In his early career, Friend was the accompanist for Harry Richman in various Ohio vaudeville shows and eventually the two moved to Los Angeles where they met some of the biggest names in the business including Al Jolson and songwriter and publisher Buddy DeSylva.
While in California, Jolson encouraged Friend to move to New York and work as a songwriter on Tin Pan Alley. In New York, Friend soon met and started collaborating with the leading songwriters of the day: Lew Brown, Sidney Clare, Billy Rose, Irving Caesar, Dave Franklin, Abel Baer and Charles Tobias.
His first big hit came in 1923 with “You Tell Her, I Stutter,” which was recorded by Ernie Hare and Billy Jones. For the next 15 years the charts included a Friend co-penned song like “June Night”, “Then I’ll Be Happy”, “(Oh) If I Only Had You”, “A Night in June (Beneath the Moon)”, “My Blackbirds are Bluebirds Now”, “It Goes Like This”, “You’re a Real Sweetheart”, “Bashful Baby”, “I Want to Sing About You”, “It’s Great to Be IN Love”, “Let’s Have a Party”, “The Sweetest Music This Side of Heaven”, “When My Dream Boat Comes Home”, “You’ve Got Me In the Palm of Your Hand”, “Out Where the Blue Begins” and “The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down.”
Friend also wrote the lyrics to the Broadway shows Piggy and George White’s Scandals of 1929 and contributed songs to the musicals Bombo and Scandals of 1929.
Cliff Friend died on June 27, 1974, Las Vegas, NV.