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While attending Miami University (1966-1970), I joined Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity – the Tau Kapps, as we jokingly called ourselves, although the official designation was Teke.  (We had a perverse desire to distance ourselves from the national chapter for some reason.)

The first office I held in the fraternity was social chairman, which meant I planned all the parties, bought all the beer, and hired all the entertainment.

The social calendar consisted, mainly, of theme parties, which were held monthly on Saturday evenings, and “mixers,” which were generally held on Thursday afternoons, as I recall.  Mixers were simply get-togethers with various sororities, although I also I came up with the idea of holding mixers with entire girls’ dorms at Western College for Women.

There was a guy from Cincinnati who handled bookings for many of the bands in the area, but I avoided dealing with him if I could.  On one occasion, a kid named Mike Freshwater dropped by my room to see if I would book his band, The Patriots. They were all teenagers from Hamilton.

I liked to give young bands a break, so I asked him how much he wanted.  He told me the booking agency charged $140.  Curious, I asked him how much the band’s share was.  He said $65.  So I told him if he broke away from the booking agency, I would pay him $140.

Mike, who must have been 15, considered my offer for a few minutes, and then said, “$130.”  He wanted the lower rate because it was easier to divide by the number of guys in the band.  And that’s how I came to hire the Patriots to play for one of our parties.  (The actual contract is at left.)

As it turned out, they were pretty good band and went on the record a couple of 45s.  The next time I saw them, they had a limousine parked along the street near the Boar’s Head in Oxford.

Other bands I have specific memories of were D.C. & the Capitals (aka The Venoms), The Rapscallion Circle, Little Roger & the Vels (with Roger Troutman), and Borrowed Thyme (a horn band from Pittsburgh).  I tried to talk Borrowed Thyme into relocating to Cincinnati.  I also hired a Columbus band, The 13th Dilemma, and a number of others I can’t remember right now.

Here are some pieces of sheet music from my collection. All of them were published in Columbus. Just click on this link to view them:
Early Columbus Music.

This photo of Rahsaan Roland Kirk was taken by Del de la Haye at Ronnie Scott’s club in London.  Although he had been taking pictures of the musician over the course of several weeks, Hay said that Kirk didn’t care to talk with him because he was white.  However, after he gave him a painting based on one of the photographs using heavy layers of acrylic paint, Kirk, who was blind, ran his fingers over it and said, “Hey, man, you may be white, but your heart is black.”  Clearly, a compliment.

On December 11, 2000, Kirk was inducted into the hall of fame at the Ohio State School for the Blind.  I was invited (along with Arnett Howard and several others) to make a dedication speech.  Because I have since had several requests for copies, I have decided to include it here:

IT IS MY PRIVILEGE AS WELL AS MY PLEASURE TO BE HERE THIS EVENING TO HONOR THE MEMORY AND MUSICAL LEGACY OF RAHSAAN ROLAND KIRK.

RAHSAAN ROLAND KIRK WAS A PHENOMENON, A FORCE OF NATURE, A COMPLETELY UNIQUE, UNCLASSIFIABLE, AND UNCOMPROMISING ARTIST WHO IN HIS ALL-TOO-BRIEF LIFE TURNED THE MUSICAL WORLD ON ITS EAR

___ AND HE WAS FROM COLUMBUS, OHIO.

ALTHOUGH BLIND, RAHSAAN POSSESSED EXTRAORDINARY VISION.  ALTHOUGH BLIND, RAHSAAN COULD SEE WITH REMARKABLE CLARITY.  AND WHAT HE SAW MORE ACUTELY AND MORE INTENSELY THAN ANYONE BEFORE OR SINCE WAS THE COLOR, THE SHAPE, THE HUE, THE TEXTURE, THE VERY VIBRATION OF SOUND.

LIKE A PAINTER CLUTCHING A FISTFUL OF BRUSHES, RAHSAAN EMPLOYED A WHOLE PANOPLY OF INSTRUMENTS TO REPRODUCE THE RAINBOW OF SOUNDS HE HEARD IN HIS HEAD:  THE TENOR, SOPRANO, AND BARITONE SAX; THE STRITCH AND MANZELLO; THE FLUTE, NOSEFLUTE, WHISTLE, BELL, GONG, AND DOZENS OF OTHER INSTRUMENTS – SOME OF WHICH HE HAD TO FIRST INVENT, SOME OF WHICH HE HAD TO RE-INVENT, AND SOME OF WHICH OTHERS SAID WEREN’T INSTRUMENTS AT ALL,   BEGINNING WITH THE PIECE OF GARDEN HOSE HE HAD PLAYED AS A CHILD.  BUT RAHSAAN FOUND MUSIC WHERE NO ONE ELSE HAD EVER EVEN LOOKED

OFTEN RAHSAAN PLAYED TWO OR THREE OF THESE INSTRUMENTS IN COMBINATION – SIMULTANEOUSLY – NOT LIKE SOME CIRCUS PLAYER, NOT LIKE SOME NOVELTY ACT, NOT LIKE SOME SHOWBOATING ENTERTAINER HOPING TO SEE HIS NAME  IN THE GUINESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS, BUT LIKE A MAN POSSESSED, A MAN RACING MADLY TO KEEP PACE WITH HIS OWN UNBRIDLED IMAGINATION

___ AND HE WAS FROM COLUMBUS, OHIO.

MANY WHO SHOULD KNOW,  MANY WHO SAW HIM PLAY AND MARVELED AT WHAT THEY SAW, SAY RAHSAAN COULD HAVE BEEN THE GREATEST OF ALL TENOR SAX PLAYERS, THE GREATEST OF ALL FLUTE PLAYERS, THE GREATEST OF ALL CLARINET PLAYERS, OR THE GREATEST ANYTHING-YOU-CAN-NAME PLAYER HAD HE CHOSEN TO LIMIT HIMSELF TO JUST ONE INSTRUMENT.  BUT I BELIEVE THEY ARE MISSING THE POINT.  RAHSAAN’S GREATEST INSTRUMENT WAS HIMSELF.  HE WASN’T A SAXOPHONIST, A FLUTIST, A CLARINETIST, PIANIST, OBOEIST, DIDGERIDOOIST, OR ANY OTHER KIND OF INSTRUMENTALIST, BUT A MUSICIAN AND HIS INSTRUMENT WAS THE KIRKOPHONE.   OF THAT HE WAS THE ONE, TRUE, ABSOLUTE MASTER.  WHEN PLAYING THE KIRKOPHONE, HE KNEW NO LIMITS.

WHEN RAHSAAN PLAYED, HE WAS A VERITABLE LIVING ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MUSIC TAPPING INTO EVERYTHING FROM NEW ORLEANS HOT JAZZ TO AVANTE GARDE COOL,  FROM EUROPEAN CLASSICAL TO CHILDHOOD NURSERY RHYMES, FROM THE MUSIC OF THE CHURCH TO THE MUSIC OF THE STREETS.

___ AND HE WAS FROM COLUMBUS, OHIO.

IN 1975 – JUST BEFORE THANKSGIVING – RAHSAAN SUFFERED A STROKE THAT LEFT HIM PARALYZED ON ONE SIDE.  HIS STORY SHOULD HAVE ENDED THERE.  JUST AS HIS STORY MIGHT HAVE ENDED WHEN HE WAS BLINDED AS A CHILD.  JUST AS HIS STORY COULD HAVE ENDED WHEN HE WAS BORN BLACK IN THOSE JIM CROW TIMES.

AFTERALL, WHO EVER HEARD OF A ONE-ARMED SAXOPHONIST? IMPOSSIBLE!  BUT RAHSAAN HAD BEEN DOING IMPOSSIBLE THINGS, OVERCOMING OBSTACLES, BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS, FINDING LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS ALL HIS LIFE.  HE BELIEVED HE COULD GO ANYWHERE AND DO ANYTHING.  SO HE DID.  IN A VERY FEW MONTHS HE WAS BACK AND IF HE WASN’T QUITE AS TECHNICALLY PROFICIENT AS THE RAHSAAN OF OLD, HE WAS, IF ANYTHING, EVEN A GREATER MUSICIAN, EVEN A GREATER MIRACLE

___ AND HE WAS FROM COLUMBUS, OHIO.

NOT ONLY DID RASHSAAN CONTINUE TO PERFORM, BUT HE CONTINUED TO PLAY TWO INSTRUMENTS AT THE SAME TIME, ADAPTING THEM IN HIS RUBE GOLDBERG-WAY WITH TAPE AND STRING AND BITS OF WIRE, ADDING KEYS, DEVELOPING NEW FINGERINGS LIKE SOME KIND OF MECHANICAL GENIUS OR WIZARD, BOTH OF WHICH, ARGUABLY, HE WAS.

WHEN IN 1977, RAHSAAN LAID DOWN HIS HORN FOR THE LAST TIME, I DISTINCTLY REMEMBER THAT IN COLUMBUS, OHIO, HIS HOMETOWN, WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN FRONT PAGE NEWS WAS RELEGATED TO PAGE FIFTEEN.  THE DEATH OF OUR GREATEST MUSICIAN WAS PAGE FIFTEEN NEWS,  IN HIS OWN HOMETOWN WAS VIRTUALLY IGNORED.

SO WHEN LOCAL HISTORIAN BOB THOMAS AND I FOUNDED THE COLUMBUS SENIOR MUSICIANS HALL OF FAME IN LATE 1994, WE DID SO WITH THE MEMORY OF RAHSAAN ROLAND KIRK IN MIND.  UPON HIS INDUCTION INTO THE HALL OF FAME THREE YEARS LATER, I SAID BY DOING SO WE WERE MAKING AN EFFORT TO CORRECT THIS INJUSTICE.  I ALSO SAID I WAS CONFIDENT RAHSAAN WOULD BE REDISCOVERED IN THE COMING YEARS AND THAT HE WOULD FINALLY RECEIVE THE RECOGNITION WHICH WAS TOO FREQUENTLY DENIED HIM IN LIFE.

THOSE WHO HAVE ACKNOWLEDGED THEIR DEBT TO RAHSAAN ROLAND KIRK INCLUDE QUINCY JONES, INCLUDE SONNY ROLLINS, INCLUDE GROVER WASHINGTON, JR, JIMI HENDRIX, IAN ANDERSON, ERIC BURDEN, FRANK ZAPPA, CAPTAIN BEEFHEART, AND MANY MORE.

WITH THE PUBLICATION OF JON KRUTH’S BIOGRAPHY, BRIGHT MOMENTS, THE ON-GOING REISSUANCE OF HIS RECORDINGS, AND THE DEDICATION OF THIS MEMORIAL, THE FIRST STEPS ARE BEING TAKEN TO RESTORE HIM TO HIS RIGHTFUL PLACE IN THE PANTHEON OF JAZZ GIANTS AND TO ENSURE IT IS NEVER AGAIN FORGOTTEN THAT ONCE HE MOVED AMONG US.

___ AND THAT HE WAS FROM COLUMBUS, OHIO.

THANK YOU.

The other day, I found a photo of pianist Sonia Modes [no, this is not her; keep reading] in a 1952 Columbus Star, promoting her appearance at the “Top Restaurant.”  Nearly 58 years later, you can still find her working the piano bar at the Top Steakhouse.  A native of Bexley, Sonia began her career as a professional musician in 1950, gigging around Ohio and even venturing as far as Washington, D.C.  However, after she was hired to perform opening night at Benny Klein’s Steak House, she formed a trio to play hotels.  Over the years, you may have caught her act at the Neil House, Desert Inn, The Kahiki, Southern Hotel, Press Club, and Bexley Monk.  She was a member of the first class inducted into the Columbus Senior Musicians Hall of Fame, Inc., in 1996.

Several months earlier, I ran across a CD by vocalist Mary Rose Molinaro on which she was accompanied by Sonia Modes (as well as Steve Samuelson, Jack Knuttila, Jr., and Eugene Beer).  So I picked it up, though I didn’t know a thing about her.  As I learned from the liner notes, “Mary Rose Molinaro was singing before she could talk! Growing up in PA, she and her nine siblings . . . sang as a family, with her father on piano and mother on guitar. . . She currently sings in Columbus, Ohio with an 18-piece Big Band [and] . . . is also known for her many local musical theatre roles as well as TV and Radio jingles and voice-over work.”

Before I had even finished listening to the entire album, You’ll Never Know (as it’s entitled), was already one of my favorite local releases of all time (and I have, literally, several thousand local CDs in my collection).  As you may have gathered from my other blogs, I am a big fan of Broadway-style musicals and have even co-written one (soon to be two).  I would be elated if a singer the caliber of Mary Rose were to appear in one of my shows.  She’s that good.  For example, her cover of “Somewhere That’s Green” is an incredible imitation of Ellen Greene’s original, while her version of “Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man” is so far removed from “Green” that you’d swear it was a different singer entirely.

So if you’re the kind of person who likes this kind of thing, this is the kind of thing you’ll like.  At least, I do.

It has been more than sixty years since Izler Solomon was fired from the Columbus Philharmonic while en route to Israel to conduct the Israel Symphony Orchestra, yet his name is still magic among many local musicians.  From 1941 to 1949, Solomon served as musical director of The Columbus Philharmonic, the predecessor to The Columbus Symphony Orchestra.  American born and trained, he was a concert violinist by the age of seven and a member of the faculty at Michigan State College in his late ‘teens.  A founding member of the Lansing Civic Orchestra, he became its conductor at 21.  Five years later, he had joined the WPA, for whom he directed the Illinois Symphony, championing American composers and establishing a national reputation for himself.  After three years, he was chosen to be guest conductor of the NBC Orchestra, and soon found himself in demand throughout the country.  It was at this point that he came to Columbus.

Solomon’s impact was immediate and impressive.  In his autobiography (Private I), Howard Rose, a member of the orchestra, wrote, “The local audiences readily accepted him as evidenced by their fullest support.  Through the war years the orchestra functioned on a semi-professional basis.  In 1946, with much help from Local 103 of the Musicians Federation, it became fully professional with a twenty-week season.”  However, Rose went on to say that, “Four years after the war, the nearly-great orchestra that Solomon had developed suddenly collapsed when the angels withdrew their support.  The budget had soared from $180,000 the first season to $248,000 for what would have been the fourth.  Those who were financing the deficit said no, and this fine orchestra folded in the middle of the summer.”

Not surprisingly, Solomon landed on his feet.  He was conductor of the Indianapolis Symphony for some twenty years and also had a career in Hollywood.  From the ashes of the Columbus Philharmonic, the Columbus Little Symphony rose and within a few years evolved into the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.

Last year, I stumbled across a recording of the Philharmonic entitled Tequila.  I will quote from the liner notes:

The COLUMBUS PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA, in less than a decade, rose from the status of a semi-professional orchestra to that of one of the ten best professional symphonies in the country.  Much of its recent eminence can be attributed to the leadership of its brilliant young conductor, Izler Solomon.  In particular, it has led in the performance of works by native composers – in 1947 it received Musical America’s second-place award for the percentage of American works played by the nation’s 3 leading orchestras; while, in 1948, it tied for first place.

Apparently, the Philharmonic made several other recordings, but I have not, yet, tracked them down.  One in particular consists of Arthur Schnabel playing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58 and is highly regarded by people who are better judges of such matters than I am.  But what I really would like to find is a transcription of the 1948 radio program in which Solomon recounts the history of the Columbus Philharmonic and concludes by thanking the people of Columbus.

When Earl Wild moved to Columbus to become artist-in-residence at Ohio State University, he bought a contemporary house in the northeast suburb of Linworth and named it Fernleaf Abbey.  Fernleaf Abbey became Wild’s base of operations for the next two decades. Wild enjoyed living in central Ohio because it was relatively inexpensive and Port Columbus International Airport was only a few minutes away.  This is why he remained here even after Ohio State did not renew his contract in 1993 for budgetary reasons.

Also falling victim to the budget axe was the Robert Shaw Institute.  Shaw, famous for his work with the Robert Shaw Chorale, was lured to Ohio State by Donald Harris, Dean of the OSU College of the Arts, who arranged funding for an annual summer choral music festival at the university and, also, at Dordogne, France.  Working 12-hour days over a period of several weeks, Shaw would “whip” (figuratively, although he was a stern task-master) his singers into shape and then record an album with them.  There were at least four albums released.

Shaw said he would continue working for free, but then his wife became seriously ill and the institute was disbanded.  (Wild told me he had offered to take a pay cut, himself, but was turned down.)  When I interviewed Wild years later, he seemed more upset that Ohio State had closed the Robert Shaw Institute than that it had ended his own artist-in-residency.  Although Shaw passed away in 1999, Wild continued to teach and give concerts up until 2008.  He had some local students in Columbus and also commuted to Pittsburgh weekly to teach at Carnegie Mellon University.

In September, 1994, Wild was riding in a jeep driven by his business manager when they were struck by a car which ran a stop side.  For 30 minutes, Wild hung upside down in the overturned vehicle while awaiting rescue.  His left arm and shoulder were damaged to such an extent that he was forced to curtail his daily practice sessions from 5 hours to 90 minutes and his concert performances were being hampered by periodic “side jolts.”  So in 1997, Wild sued for $1 million in damages.  A forensic economist testified that he would lose more than $437,000 in income because of the accident, in addition to his customary $25,000 concert fees.  At the time, he had no new bookings.  In perhaps one of the most unusual trials in Franklin County history, Wild gave an impromptu five-minute concert on a 9-foot grand piano.  He was subsequently awarded $619,830 by the jury – certainly a personal recorded for one performance.

The following year, Wild and Michael Rolland Davis, his long-time companion, put together the not-for-profit Ivory Classics Foundation (www.ivoryclassics.com) as a vehicle for re-releasing many of Wild’s own albums, as well as those of many other artists whose recordings might not otherwise be available.  The quality of these re-issues is unparalleled.

Note:  David C. from the United Kingdom asked me to go into more detail on my conversation with Earl Wild.  I hope this satisfies him until Carnegie Mellon Press releases Wild’s memoirs later this year.

On January 23, 2010, Earl Wild, the great classical pianist, died.  He was 94.  A long time resident of Columbus, he moved to Palm Springs, California, a few years ago – not to retire, but to continue his remarkable career in a more comfortable clime.

In 2001, I had the privilege to spend a pleasant afternoon with Wild in his home where he recorded his Grammy-winning album, The Romantic Master (which, as far as I can determine, was the first Grammy won by someone residing in the Columbus area).  I was there to present him with a certificate signifying his induction into The Columbus Senior Musicians Hall of Fame, Inc.  Given all of the honors he received over his lengthy career, I didn’t even know if he would acknowledge it, but he was quite gracious.  I felt it was important for us to recognize him as a member of our musical community, particularly since, in my opinion, he was frequently overlooked.  We discussed that and many other subjects in our free-ranging conversation, but I won’t go into that, now.  Rather, I want to delve into his “other” career.

For example, Wild played the organ on John Zacherley’s television show in NYC for several years.  Zacherely was the “cool ghoul” who hosted late night monster movies and had several regional hit records such as “Dinner With Drac” and “Zacherely For President.”   Wild remembers him as a smart and fun, but eccentric individual who once sent all the network executives mounted chicken feet as Christmas gifts.  I think the fact that Wild had an appreciation for Zacherley’s skewed sense of humor says a lot about the man who has been described as  a “super-virtuoso in the Horowitz class.”

Wild also looked back fondly on the four years he spent as a studio musician for Sid Caesar’s television show.  He told me Caesar was one of the kindest and dearest people he ever met.  Caesar valued the pianist’s ability to improvise any type or style of music they needed for the show, from jazz to opera.  Not surprisingly, Wild also held the late Imogene Coca in high regard, but couldn’t stand Mel Brooks.  He described him as rude, obnoxious, and unbelievably crude.  According to Wild, many people quit the show because of Brooks, but Caesar stood by him for some reason he couldn’t fathom.

One of Wild’s disappointments was that the Columbus Symphony Orchestra never showed any real interest in having him perform with them.  He told me Alessandro Siciliani wanted him to play something “special” — a piece that was not part of his regular repertoire — which would not have made any sense from a financial standpoint.  If Wild invested the time to learn a particular piece, he had to be able to perform it several times during the year.

One of the many funny anecdotes told about Wild is that he claimed to have become an atheist at the age of 10 when he asked his mother how there could be a God when the organist at their local church (in his hometown of Pittsburgh) was so lousy!

I decided to call this post “Goodbye, Earl” so people searching for the Dixie Chicks song might stumble across it.  I thought Wild, who once referred to Lang Lang, a rising star in classical circles, as the “J-Lo of the piano,” would appreciate it.

Chuz Alfred has always considered himself a jazzman, but when he was starting out Ozzie Cadena, the A&R man for Savoy Records, apparently had other ideas.  Consequently, the Chuz Alfred Combo (as they were billed) wound up recording “Buckeye Bounce” backed with “Caravan” for their first single and “Rock Along” backed with “Rockin’ Boy” for their second.  The last was the lead off track on the 1955 compilation album, Rock ‘n’ Roll, released on Herman Lubinsky’s Regent label (Lubinsky also founded Savoy).

Because Chuz and the boys were lumped together on this album with Hal Singer, Paul Williams, T.J. Fowler, and other, presumably, African-American musicians, he continues to be regarded by some as one of a long line of black tenor sax players. In a July, 1955, Billboard ad headlined  “Congrats from Savoy!”,  the Chuz Alfred Combo is pictured along with ten black groups/performers (among them Columbus’s Larry Darnell).

Locally, promoters liked to pit Chuz against the other hot tenor players in town, including Rusty Bryant.  In fact, Chuz and Rusty came close to co-leading a band, but Rusty backed out at the last minute.  All that survives of that venture are some publicity photos.

When Chuz subsequently went to Newark, NJ, to pick up payment for the “Rockin’ Boy” 45, he mentioned to Ozzie that the band preferred to play jazz and invited him to hear the band at Goldfarb Studio which he had rented for rehearsals.  Surprisingly, Ozzie did drop by unexpectedly at the end of a late night rehearsal session, but left without saying a word.  Chuz figured they had blown their chance, but the next day Ozzie called to say he had booked time in a recording studio.

Chuz, Ola Hanson, and Chuck Lee promptly reported to Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in Hackensack, only to learn they would have to make up some original tunes on the spot because Savoy would not pay royalties to ASCAP or BMI. Other than “Chuz Duz,” a song written by a friend which they had never played, everything else was created during the three-hour session with only one take of each tune and no overdubs.  The result was released on Savoy as Jazz Young Blood, a respectable effort that was re-released on CD in 1993.  However, tracks from his first two singles have been included on the compilation CDs Bump, Jump, Jive Volume Nine, Big Apple Boogie, and Boogie On Broadway.

1255-1257 Broadway, New YorkShepard N. Edmonds was a truly remarkable person.

Rudi Blesh, author of They All Played Ragtime,  relied heavily upon Shep’s memory when reconstructing the history of ragtime music.  A talented songwriter himself, Shep had been present at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago when the tunes of Scott Joplin, Ben Hamey, Jesse Pickett, and, possibly, Shep Edmonds were heard for the first time.  In fact, some historians have gone so far as to say that Edmonds was the “Father of Ragtime.”  Although he was one of the last surviving giants of that era, much of what we know about him and his accomplishments is rather sketchy.

For example, by some accounts Shep Edmonds founded The Attucks Music Publishing Co. in 1903 with money he earned from his song, “I’m Goin’ To Live Anyhow, Till I Die.”  By others, he was simply hired to be the manager, although who hired him is never mentioned.  Clearly, he was the manager (it says so on the sheet music), but he appears to have more of an interest in the firm than that, given the trail of litigation that followed him after it merged with Gotham Music Company in 1905.

Attucks (named after Crispus Attucks, one of the first five men killed in the American Revolution) is especially significant because it was the first African-American-owned music publishing company in Tin Pan Alley.  Gotham, founded by Will Marion Cook and Richard C. McPherson, was the  second.  In 1906, Shep opened Shepard N. Edmonds Music Publishing Co. at 55 West 28th Street in New York, but it was not very successful.  In fact, Shep’s reputation has been undermined by the fact that copies of his sheet music are extremely rare, despite his having written at least three dozen songs.

By 1911 (the same year Gotham-Attucks went out of business), Shep had founded Edmonds National Detective Bureau, possibly the first black-owned private detective service.  New York Age, a newspaper of the time, declared he was “the cleverest colored detective in existence.”  Unfortunately, his songwriting his songwriting took a backseat to his ventures, although he kept a hand in music according to Springfield jazzman Garvin Bushell.  He mentions in Jazz From the Beginning that Shep “and his wife were from Columbus, Ohio, and they rented the third floor of  our home on 130th Street, where we moved in 1921.  Shep was a detective, but also a composer.  He had written some tunes, and I did a date with Lillyn Brown where she sang them.”

Now, there is reason to believe that Shep was born in  Memphis, Tennessee, on September 25, 1876.  However, he clearly was living in Columbus by the ‘forties, possibly because his wife was originally from here.  And he was still writing and copyrighting songs.  Music historian Sylvester Russell asserts that Shep “came very near to jubilee in his rag-time compositions” – by which he meant they were almost perfect.  His son, Shepard Edmonds II, was also a musician who sang with and directed Earl Hood’s Orchestra at Valley Dale during World War II.

When Shep passed away in Columbus on November 24, 1957, he left a wife, 2 sons, and 5 grandchildren.  Sadly, his contributions to the development of ragtime – and, by extension, jazz – are largely forgotten, even in his adopted hometown.  Note: Williams & Walker (pictured on the sheet music) were Bert Williams and George Walker.  Williams was, according to W.C. Fields, “the funniest man I ever saw – and the saddest man I ever knew.”  He was the first black man in a lead role on the Broadway stage and one of the most popular entertainers of all times.

"Just Got Kids" b/w "What Kind of "god' Do You Think You Are" (1959)

Jim “Jimmie John” Fullen grew up in Licking County and began writing tunes while a 19-year old private stationed with the 187the Airborne in Korea.  Among his first compositions were “My M-1 Rifle” and “Jumpboots and Parachutes.”  Later while working his way through college, he wrote and recorded “Rosie’s Gone Again” which was released by Dot Records (and was covered by the Greenbriar Boys on their Vanguard album in the ‘sixties).

Although “Rosie” didn’t exactly make Fullen/John a household word, it did help him to place songs with such stars as George Jones (“Not Even Friends”), Brenda Lee (“I’m Your Toy”), and Slim Whitman, Wayne Walker, and Ernest Tubb (“What Kind of God Do You Think You Are?”).  He also made appearances on Midwestern Hayride, Wheeling Jamboree, Old Dominion Square Dance, and the Grand Ole Opry.

However, the need to support a family led him to put aside his musical ambitions in favor of a career in education.  In 1973, he earned his Ph.D. from The Ohio State University and landed a teaching job at the OSU Newark Campus.  He has also taught at Columbus State Community College and various other area technical colleges.  And for 23 years, he served a mayor of Hanover, Ohio.

Over the years, Fullen has released at least a dozen 45s as Jimmie John and a couple of CDs.  Now retired from teaching, he has refocused his energies on making music.  Check out his website to see what he is up to: http://www.musicalmoods.com/jim%20fullen/jimfullenindex.htm.