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The BILLY MURRAY PAGES
Official Website of The Billy Murray Project  SM


Can't get enough Billy Murray? There's still more on the new Mainspring Record Collectors' Blog, including short features and expertly digitized sound files. Visit us soon!


NEW - Hear Billy Murray on a Live 1929 "Edison Hour" Broadcast


    
Billy Murray in Victor Record publicity stunt


Online articles
and discographies detailing the records, films, broadcasts, and career of the “Denver Nightingale”

 

 

Photo courtesy of
Dick Carty


  
The Billy Murray Free Online Discography

THE BILLY MURRAY DISCOGRAPHY PROJECT

Discographies and checklists from the leading Murray researchers - Latest Updates: 7-25-2011



Free Online Articles & Photo Features:
 
  

  
BILLY MURRAY RECORDS: A COLLECTION OF RARE AND UNUSUAL LABELS (1903 – 1930)

An annotated record-label gallery exhibiting Murray's scarcest and most interesting cylinder and 78-rpm disc records (Courtesy of Dick Carty, Kurt Nauck, Allan Sutton, and others).

  
Billy Murray photographs and memorabilia
  

A BILLY MURRAY ICONOGRAPHY (1900 – 1953)

A rotating exhibit devoted to rare Murray photographs, advertising, and other ephemera from the collections of Dick Carty, John R. Bolig, Allan Sutton, the late Jim Walsh, and others.

More postings on THE BILLY MURRAY PROJECT on Facebook.


NEW ARTICLE
   
  

  
   

PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST IN DECLINE
Murray's Comeback and Final Years, from the
Jimmy Martindale Letters (1938?54)

Martindale, a prominent New York legal publisher, championed Murray's comeback attempts on records and in radio. These candid excerpts from Martindale's letters to columnist Jim Walsh document Murray's personal and professional activities from 1938 until his death in 1954.


        
  • BILLY MURRAY'S VICTOR RECORDING CONTRACTS:
    THE COMPLETE ORIGINAL TEXTS

    Disclosed to the public for the first time here, these are the previously restricted texts of Murray's 1909,
    1919, and 1920 Victor Talking Machine Co. contracts, complete and unedited. You will also find
    previously unpublished amendments, plus contract riders that restricted Murray’s touring and radio broadcasting activities.

         
        
  • BILLY MURRAY'S RECORDING CONTRACTS: A CASE STUDY

    Murray's recording agreements ? particularly his Victor Talking Machine Company contracts, the details of which are made public here for the first time ? provide a deeper understanding of both his recording career and the legal workings of the early American recording industry.

       

Billy Murray MGM movie soundtrack disc
BILLY MURRAY IN THE MOVIES, PART 1:
The 1928 (1929 Release) M-G-M Shorts


The story of Murray's two MGM single-reel films with the Eight Popular Victor Artists, and the synchronized soundtrack discs that accompanied them. Includes excerpts from the original script and a photo of the rare soundtrack disc.
 

Eight Popular Victor Artists 78-rpm record

THE EIGHT POPULAR VICTOR ARTISTS’
“ MINIATURE CONCERT”

The Earliest Issued Victor Electrical Recording


The Victor Talking Machine Co. had been experimenting with electrical recording since 1922, but to no avail until February 26, 1925. On that day, a test of acoustic vs. electric systems produced the first Victor electrical recordings to be accepted for release, featuring Billy Murray, Henry Burr, and other members of the Eight Popular Victor Artists troupe.

    

   
Billy Murray home pictures
   
PHOTO FEATURE — BILLY MURRAY AT HOME:
The G. G. Bain News Service Photographs, 1919–20

Rare photographs of Billy Murray as a gardener, golfer, and handyman at his Long Island home, in newly restored scans of the original photographs from the Library of Congress.


Articles on Other Pioneer Recording Artists

CAL STEWART'S RECORDING CONTRACTS
At a time when most studio performers worked for modest flat fees, Cal Stewart's demand that he be paid royalties on sales of his "Uncle Josh" records was revolutionary.

BOB ROBERTS
The son of a prominent mime-turned-theatrical producer, Robert A. "Bob" Roberts recorded prolifically for a decade before heading West, where he found fame on the California vaudeville circuits.

GEMS FROM JACK KAUFMAN?S PERSONAL SCRAPBOOK
A collection of rare Kaufman Brothers photos, memorabilia, and previously unpublished photos from Jack Kaufman's personal scrapbook — courtesy of the legendary Philip "Road Mangler" Kaufman, the third (and undoubtedly most colorful) generation of Kaufmans to work in the music business.

THE KAUFMAN BROTHERS: A PREHISTORY OF PHIL, JACK, AND IRVING
The Kaufman Brothers were a hit in vaudeville long before they made their first records. This article examines their early history in light of newly discovered information from Jack Kaufman's personal scrapbooks, and other rare primary-source materials.

A PREHISTORY OF ADA JONES (1889?1905)
Before her fame as a recording star, Ada Jones was singing in Broadway flops and seedy dime museums, where she shared billing with the likes of "The Eight Fat Women" and "Signor Monstrom?s Troupe of Boxing Monkeys." This article chronicles her stage career and earliest known recordings.

EVERYMAN'S McCORMACK: A JOHN STEEL BIO-DISCOGRAPHY
John Steel was no John McCormack, despite his efforts to emulate the legendary Irish tenor. But he was a colorful character, an amateur boxer, and a major stage star of the 1920s whose story is finally emerging.

THE ARTHUR FIELDS SONG SHOP AND ARTHUR FIELDS MELODY RECORDS
In 1923 Arthur Fields opened his own music store and contracted with the ill-fated John Fletcher to produce his own record label. As with most Fletcher ventures, it was not a success.

ARTHUR FIELDS BLUE AMBEROL CYLINDEROGRAPHY
First in a new series of cylinderographies devoted to early studio artists, from the original Edison file data and other primary-source materials.

ADA JONES BLUE AMBEROL CYLINDEROGRAPHY
From the original Edison National Historic Site file data and other primary-source materials.

VICTOR?S SINGING EXECUTIVE: HARRY MACDONOUGH
Record buyers probably had no idea that singing for the phonograph was a part-time career for Harry Macdonough. In real life, Macdonough was John S. Macdonald, a Canadian expatriate and important Victor Talking Machine Company executive who worked his way up from assistant studio manager to A&R director and vice-president for sales.

THE SCANLAN SCANDAL: THE REST OF THE WALTER VAN BRUNT STORY
Walter Van Brunt's reinvention as 'Walter Scanlan' launched his rise to fame in the theatrical world — that is, until Mrs. Van Brunt got wind of Mrs. Scanlan. The resulting trial made national headlines, with the judge threatening to jail Van Brunt, and might have hastened the end of his successful New York run.

A HISTORY OF THE AVON COMEDY FOUR
The legendary vaudeville team of Smith & Dale scrambled their way from Bowery saloons to top billing in America's and England's premier theaters as front-men for the Avon Comedy Four. Irving Kaufman, Arthur Fields, and Eddie Miller were among the well-known supporting members who came and went during the act's long career.

STEVE PORTER, GLOBAL ENTREPRENEUR
Stephen Carl Porter was hardly the dimwitted "rube" he liked to portray on records. From his pioneering work as a studio engineer in India to his successful Port-O-Phone hearing-aid business, Porter was an ambitious, globe-trotting entrepreneur to whom record-making was largely a sideline.
   

COMPLETE INDEX OF ONLINE ARTICLES



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