Songs of Larry Conley

LARRY CONLEY
.....SONGWRITER.....
.....BIG BAND TROMBONIST.....
.....BANDLEADER.....
 

LARRY CONLEY AS SONGWRITER

"A COTTAGE FOR SALE"
Larry Conley's Most Well Known Song

Larry Conley is best remembered as a songwriter for his lyric for "A Cottage For Sale".  This song, a collaboration between him and Willard Robison, was written in 1929.  It has become a standard, being recorded by well over 100 artists that we know of, and probably many more.  Larry Conley's favorite recording of it was a 1930 version by Gracie Fields.

"A Cottage For Sale" was a million seller for Billy Eckstine in 1945.  Other popular versions were produced by Frank Sinatra on his "No One Cares" album in 1959, and by Nat King Cole on his "Just One Of Those Things" album.  It was included on the Natalie Cole "Unforgettable" single, released on a cassette and a 45rpm record in the United States and on a CD in Europe and Asia.  Chuck Berry sang "A Cottage For Sale" as the concluding number in his mid 1980's motion picture "Hail! Hail! Rock And Roll".  Shari Belafonte featured it in an unusual way in a dream scene on her TV show, "Beyond Reality", in a 1992 episode titled "Dancing With The Man".  It has been, and continues to be, a favorite of jazz players and singers.  Some, like Mel Torme, Erroll Garner, Earl Hines, Dinah Washington and Ralph Sutton have recorded it numerous times.

Click Here to listen to "A Cottage For Sale"
 

OTHER CONLEY SONGS

We have identified more than 200 published songs by Larry Conley.  He had a number of successful collaborations in addition to the one with Willard Robison.  With Johnny Marks, who was best known for his "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer", Conley wrote "Summer Holiday", which was used in several motion pictures, and "Free" which made the Billboard Charts in the mid 1950's.  One of Larry Conley's compositions with Joe Solomon, "Let's Have An Old-Fashioned Christmas", has recently been re-issued in a number of books of Christmas songs, resulting in several new recordings.  Some of Conley's early works with Gene Rodemich have also enjoyed a recent revival.  Their "Shanghai Shuffle" was used as the title song for one big band CD as well as in the Robert De Niro-Robin Williams movie "Awakenings".  The Ken Burns film, "Jazz", used two versions of the song as performed by Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra, one with a solo by Louis Armstrong.  "Tia Juana", another Conley-Rodemich composition, has recently been recorded by big bands both in the USA and Europe.  In the last few years both of these songs have also been re-issued on the numerous CD's featuring Henderson, Jelly Roll Morton, Bix Beiderbecke and Bunny Berigan

To View A List Of All Songs Written Or Published By Larry Conley, Click Here
 

To See A Display Of Sheet Music Of Larry Conley Songs, Click Here
 

NEW RELEASES OF LARRY CONLEY SONGS ON CD, DVD AND VIDEO

TO BE RELEASED ON FEBRUARY 1, 2005!!


JOHNNY MATHIS
CD ALBUM
"ISN'T IT ROMANTIC: THE STANDARDS ALBUM"
"A COTTAGE FOR SALE"
Columbia Records

RELEASED WITHIN THE LAST FEW YEARS ---


BUCKY PIZZARELLI
CD ALBUM
"ONE MORNING IN MAY"
"A COTTAGE FOR SALE"
Arbors Records


JACK GARDNER'S ORCHESTRA
CD ALBUM
"DALLAS RHYTHM"
Recorded in Dallas 1924
"TOO LATE NOW"
(Larry Conley, Gene Rodemich, Jack Gardner)
Jazz Oracle BDW 8021


"JAZZ" a film by KEN BURNS
Episode 2
"SHANGHAI SHUFFLE"
Performed by Fletcher Henderson and His Orchestra
Trumpet Solo by Louis Armstrong
Originally recorded in 1924


"JAZZ" a film by KEN BURNS
Episode 4
"SHANGHAI SHUFFLE"
Performed by Fletcher Henderson and His Orchestra
Originally recorded in1934


JAMES BROWN
CD ALBUM
"BALLADS"
"A COTTAGE FOR SALE"


THE DENISE LAWRENCE BAND
CD ALBUM
"I GUESS THERE'S AN END TO EVERYTHING"

Click Here for details and a sound clip from the Denise Lawrence CD
 
 

LARRY CONLEY SONGS FEATURED IN MOTION PICTURES

"My Sweetheart"
"The Melody Of Love", Universal, (1928)
(This was Universal’s first talking picture)

"A Cottage For Sale"
"The Wanderer", Vitaphone, (1930)

"A Cottage For Sale"
"Pardon My Gun", RKO, (1930)

"Summer Holiday"
"The Shining Hour", MGM, (1938)

"Summer Holiday"
"Four Girls In White", MGM, (1939)

"A Cottage For Sale"
"F.B.I. Story: The FBI Versus Alvin Karpis", (1974)

"A Cottage For Sale"
"Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll", Universal, (1987)

"Shanghai Shuffle"
"Awakenings", Columbia Pictures, (1990)
 
 

SOME BACKGROUND ON LARRY CONLEY

Larry Conley was born on November 29, 1895 in Keithsburg, IL.  At the age of twelve he ran away from home and joined a circus, possibly Barnum and Bailey, that was playing in the nearby town of Muscatine, Iowa.  While with the show he learned to play the trombone, under the tutelage of one "Daddy" Smith, a member of the circus band.

After a few seasons with the circus he left to further his musical education in Chicago.  Eventually he went on to pursue other ventures in Texas, Louisiana and Mexico.  While in Mexico he published his first song, "I've Lost You And I Can't Forget".  In the mid 1920's he spent a number of years in St.Louis, where he headed several music publishing firms, wrote songs, and played and recorded with Gene Rodemich's Orchestra.  A testimonial advertisement for The Martin Band Instrument Company indicates that Conley was well respected as a trombone player, and that the Brunswick recordings containing his solos were widely known. Later, while still in St. Louis, he formed the Conley-Silverman Band with pianist Dave Silverman.  This band played in large dance clubs and theaters.  During 1928 Conley opened a lavish night club in St. Louis called "The Tent". Beautifully decorated to resemble a sheik’s palace, it was one of the "in" places in the city.  It featured music by Conley’s own jazz band.

In 1929 Conley started to concentrate more on song writing and less on performing.  This coincided with a move to New York where, in addition to writing songs, he owned a large rehearsal studio complex at Times Square.  Although Conley was not happy about the introduction of Rock and Roll music, and found it difficult to sell his new compositions after the mid 50's, he continued to write until the time of his death in February of 1960.  He would probably be surprised by the fact that Chuck Berry sang "A Cottage For Sale" as the concluding number in his mid 1980's motion picture "Hail! Hail! Rock And Roll".

 Click Here To Read An Article About Larry Conley From A 1926 Issue Of The St. Louis Globe Democrat
 
 

LARRY CONLEY AS BANDLEADER AND TROMBONIST

Martin Trombone Full Page Advertisement Featuring Larry Conley
The International Musician
The Metronome
Jacobs' Orchestra Monthly
February 1925
 

LARRY CONLEY WITH JACK GARDNER'S ORCHESTRA c. 1920

In 1920 Larry Conley played trombone with Jack Gardner's Orchestra in Texas.  Recently we learned that in that same year he was also part of a quartet led by Gardner.  This group featured Jack Gardner on piano, Larry Conley on trombone, Howard "Rats" Hill on clarinet and Bob Blassingame on drums. They are known to have played in Sherman, Denison, Marshall and Wichita Falls Texas.

Later on, in 1924, Conley, Gardner and Gene Rodemich collaborated on a song, "Too Late Now", that was recorded by Gardner's Orchestra on the Okeh label.
 
 

EARLY CONLEY BANDS --- 1921

This Advertisement, from a Shrevesport, LA newspaper of May 21, 1921, is the oldest known record of a band or orchestra led by Larry Conley.  It was discovered by Joe Showler during his search for material on Jack Teagarden.
 
 

LARRY CONLEY'S MEXICO CITY BANDS --- 1922

In 1922 Larry Conley had at least three bands operating in Mexico.  The photo above is of one of these bands.  Larry Conley is in the center holding his trombone.  We recently obtained personnel lists for the bands from an article in the September 30, 1922 issue of "The Billboard":

Tampico Combination:

Larry Conley - Trombone, French Horn, Saxophone; Paul Middle Hauff - Violin, Saxophone; Frank Holicheck -
Violin, Clarinet; Raymond Maher (later changed to Mayer) - Piano, Xylophone; Ham Crawford - Saxophone; Bill Powell - Bass,
Saxophone, Tuba; Joe Lowery - Cornet, French Horn; Roy Barnes - Banjo, Violin; Al Buchanan - Drums; Harry
Courtier - Bassoon, Oboe. Added at a later time: Merrill "Poochie" Doyle - Saxophone; Gilbert (Gib) O'Shaughnessy - Saxophone, Clarinet

Second Unit --- Abel Restaurant, Mexico City:

Jack Davis - Director, Cornet; Louis Sykes - Piano; Gene Gray - Trombone; Walter Jennings - Saxophone;
Dewey Al Davis - Clarinet, Saxophone; "Boozy" Weathers - Drums; Ray Durham - Banjo

Number Three Orchestra --- Warner's Cabaret, Mexico City:

J.G. Flores; Manuel Farias; Leonardo P. Hernandez; Jose G. Gutierres; Hildebrando
 
 

LARRY CONLEY WITH GENE RODEMICH'S ORCHESTRA  c. 1924

Personnel in Photograph

Seated at the piano: Gene Rodemich, Leader/Piano. Standing, left to right: Ed Storman, Banjo; Clarence Foster, Trumpet; Charles Werner, Trumpet; Larry Conley, Trombone; Joe Zotterilla??, Tuba; Allister Wylie, Sax/Piano; Jules Silberburg, Sax/Violin; Bill Bailey, Sax/Clarinet/Xylophone; Otto Reinert, Violin; Paul Spohrlieder, Drums.

Click Here to see a rare snapshot of Gene Rodemich's Orchestra

Gene Rodemich's Orchestra has been described as "the best dance band in St. Louis" during the 1920's.  It was popular both for it's live performances and it's records.  Fifty-six recordings were made by the Orchestra during the time that Gene Rodemich and Larry Conley, who was featured playing trombone with the group, were writing songs together.  These records were made exclusively on the Brunswick label between 1923 and 1925. Of the forty-nine different tunes, that were the result of these sessions, eight were the product of this song writing team.  They are: "Honolou", "Just A Funny Little Tune", "Missouri Tickler Blues", "My Sweetheart", "One Stolen Kiss", "Shanghai Shuffle", "Tia Juana", and "When Dreams Come True".

 Click Here For A Complete List Of The Brunswick Recordings By Gene Rodemich's Orchestra

Click Here and listen as Larry Conley plays his trombone on this 1924 recording of "Wolverine Blues"
 

THE CONLEY-SILVERMAN BAND 1925-1926

Personnel in Photograph

In Front Kneeling: Dave Silverman. At The Piano: Larry Conley (Closest To Camera), Al Eldridge. Standing, Back Row,
Left To Right: Ping Spalding, Jess Walton, John Bambridge, Ben Feld, Ed Storman, Larry Skinnell, Joe Stovall, Charles
Schmat, Rich Schwenker, Harold Ripplinger, George Cloud.

 Click Here For More Photos And Other Interesting Information On The Conley-Silverman Band

In mid 1925 Larry Conley left Gene Rodemich's Orchestra to join a group formed by Dave Silverman, another former Rodemich Orchestra member.  The Conley-Silverman Band.soon evolved from this group, apparently because of the popularity of Conley's trombone playing.  Even though they drew large audiences in St. Louis during their short existence, we know of no recordings made by the Conley-Silverman Band.  Any leads to the existence of recordings made by the group would be greatly appreciated. The Conley-Silverman Band was featured on numerous radio shows heard not only in St. Louis but also in New York. Although the possibility of finding any recorded material from these shows is highly unlikely, any listings of show contents would be appreciated.

In November of 1925 the Conley-Silverman Band played at a Ball held to crown the "Best Looking Man in St. Louis".  This popularity contest, sponsored by the St. Louis Star newspaper, was filmed, with sound, by the St. Louis Film Company.  There is at least a chance that this film still exists.

The Conley-Silverman Band has been well documented as far as the personnel who made up the group. They include the following:

Larry Conley....Director, Trombone
Dave Silverman....Associate Director, Piano/Violin
Al Eldridge....Piano
Ping Spalding....Sax
Larry Skinnell....Sax
Joe Stovall....Sax
Jess Walton....Cornet
Harold Ripplinger....Cornet
John Bambridge....Tuba
Ben Feld....Violin
Ed Storman....Banjo
Charles Schmat....Trombone
George Cloud....Drums
Rich Schwenker....Banjo
 

SEGER ELLIS' ORCHESTRA c. 1929

Larry Conley made three recordings with Seger Ellis' Orchestra in October of 1929.  Two of these, "If I Had A Talking Picture Of You" and "I'm A Dreamer, Aren't We All?" were released on the Okeh label.  The personnel list for these recordings was passed along to us by Seger Ellis himself.  Other members of this Orchestra included Phil Napolean, Hoagy Carmichael and Eddie Lang.
 
 

ANOTHER POSSIBILITY

There is a possibility that Larry Conley played on one recording made by Charles Creath's Jazz-O-Maniacs in St. Louis on Novewmber 3, 1925.  Four recordings were made by Okeh on that day, with the trombone work generally credited to Sonny Lee.  However, on one of the recordings, "Way Down In Lovers Lane", a trombone solo can be heard that appears to be by a different player, who has a tone and style essentially identical to that of Larry Conley.  Could it be him?

It's possible that Lee and Conley knew each other.  They both came from Texas and had played with some of the same musicians there.  Conley was in St. Louis at the time and had connections with Okeh.  They had recorded one of his songs, ":Just A Little Bit Bad", just a week before the Creath recordings were made and his good friend , Phil Baxter, made several recordings for them just two days prior to that.  Will we ever know for sure?  Probably not!
 


RESEARCH ON LARRY CONLEY

We are continuing to do research on Larry Conley's musical career. We have sheet music or recordings for only about sixty of the more than two hundred songs that he wrote. Also, information is needed on the musicians he played with during the 1920's in Gene Rodemich's Orchestra and the Conley-Silverman Band, both of which were based in St. Louis, and Jack Gardner's Orchestra, which was based in Dallas.

The members of Gene Rodemich's Orchestra and the Conley-Silverman Bandthat we are most interested in are those listed under the photographs above. Also, we are still seeking some of the Brunswick recordings made by Gene Rodemich's Orchestra, especially the lesser known alternate takes, and those recordings thought to be un-issued.  Some of the un-issued sides are known to exist, possibly as test pressings.

In connection with the Charles Creath recording we are seeking information on trombonist Sonny Lee, who we believe played on some of the other Creath recordings. We would be particularly interested in hearing from people who are familiar with his playing style in the mid 1920's, in order to identify just which Creath recordings he may be on.

Much of the historical information we have on Larry Conley was obtained from research done at The St. Louis Public Library, The New York Public Library at Lincoln Center, The Sharon A. Reason Keithsburg Museum, The National Sound Archive of the British Library and The St. Louis Musicians Association. If anyone is so inclined, and has the time available, we could use some further help in doing research in St. Louis, Chicago, Dallas and London.
 
 

ITEMS WE ARE SEARCHING FOR

Photos of the interior of The Tent Cafe in St. Louis.

Program or Poster for the Arcadia Ballroom in St. Louis for the days that the Conley-Silverman Band and Frank Trumbauer's Orchestra appeared together.

Film of the Conley-Silverman Band made by The St. Louis Film Company.

Pathe' musical short films "Fancy That" and "So This Is Marriage" for which Larry Conley wrote the music.

Interior and exterior photos of Ringle's Rehearsal Studio in New York City.

Recordings and Airchecks of singer Joy Conley.

Trnascriptions made by Gene Rodemich --- especially The Manhattan Merry-Go-Round.


WANT TO RESEARCH OTHER SONGWRITERS, MUSICIANS, MUSIC & RECORDINGS?

Click Here
 
 

Other interesting WEB PAGES....

The Johnny Mercer Website

 The Online Discographical Project

 Monrovia Sound Studios --- Jelly Roll Morton



 

CREDITS

"A Cottage For Sale"
Lyric by Larry Conley
Music by Willard Robison
1929
Midi Arrangement by Bill Lane

"Gene Rodemich and His Brunswick Orchestra"
Photograph by Murillo
St. Louis, MO
1924

"Wolverine Blues"
Words and Music by Ferd Morton, Benjamin Spikes & John Spikes
1923
Gene Rodemich's Orchestra
Brunswick
1924
 

THANKS TO:

Joe Showler, Sharon Reason, Morty Savada, Art Zimmerman, Vince Giordano, Colin Bray, Fred Williams, Anthony DiFlorio III, Lawrence Brown, Shirley Klett, Bob Messenger, Bonnie Rodemich, Dan Stevens, Joe Giordano, Bill Saunders, Joy Conley Donlevy, Harold Ripplinger, Lou Land, Earl Buss, Terry Smythe.
 
 

COMMENTS or QUESTIONS? e-mail us.....

bobhope@ieee.org