Monday, October 12, 2015

Monster Mash Monday - The Skeleton Rag (1912)

Ah, another one of my favorites (if only because I share a middle and surname with the lyricist). The Skeleton Rag was written by Percy Wenrich, words by Edward Madden, featured in a 1914 Edison Kinetograph (motion picture) entitled Curing the Cook along with another ghost-themed rag entitled The Haunting Rag. It'd described as a comedy in which a wayward cook is taught the dangers of  drink after being visited by spooks and specters. Like many silent pictures of the early 'teens, the plot sounds more than a little thin. Still, this is the era when, as Sunset Boulevard's Norma Desmond said, "We didn't need sound, we had faces!"

Edward Madden grew up in New York City and wrote for vaudeville before moving on to the Broadway stage where he helped create scores for Rogers Brothers in Panama, the Mimic World, the Girl and the Wizard, He Came from Milwaukee, La Belle Paree, and Little Boy Blue. His songs made it through to the 1950's where they featured in films such as Turn Back the Clock, Babes in Arms, Tin Pan Alley, Bullets for O'Hara, Birth of the Blues, Ship Ahoy, On Moonlight, and By the Light of the Silvery Moon. He died in Hollywood, CA on March 11, 1952.

I thought that I touched on Percy Wenrich in this blog before, but going back over the archives I don't find anything, so here's giving the old boy his due. Wenrich came out of the ragtime hotbed of Joplin, MO, arriving in New York City around 1907 where he worked as a Tin Pan Alley composer. He inked a number of famous rags including The Smiler, Peaches and Cream, Crab Apples, and Put on your Old Gray Bonnet. In 1911 he married vaudeville performer Dolly Connolly and with Madden as his lyricist, wrote Red Rose Rag for his sweetheart. Coincidentally he also died on March 17,1952, just six days after his partner.

I found an American Quartet recording of the Skeleton Rag in the Library of Congress' National Jukebox. So, for your enjoyment, here's a scratchy 78!

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