FROM BRYON YOUNG

 

(September 2005)
Update 13th Aug 2010

Hil,

My interest in the music of Ken Griffin goes way back to the late 1940s when I first heard his big hit You Can't Be True, Dear

In 1948 my maternal grandparents retired from the family farm near Grandview, Iowa and moved into town to a new home that had been custom-built for them. My parents, an older brother, and I then moved from our home in Grandview to the family farm where Dad assumed the duties of running the farm for Grandpa. Those were truly halcyon days I will always remember.

I was only about five then and did not know the name Ken Griffin. But it seemed like I was hearing You Can't Be True Dear, and this glorious organ music wherever the family went - at the theatre before the show started, on the midway at the local County Fair, at a roller rink, and at an amusement park in Burlington.

Then ! will always remember a time when the family attended a party with other relatives at the Warner home (a cousin). The kids were playing the old 78-rpm records on their parents' console radio/phonograph. This was before hi-fi or even television had come to our area. When they played this wonderful organ music piece, YCBTD, it was an electrifying moment for me. I well remember that bright red and silver label and playing that record over and over. I believe I was in Kindergarten then, so I had not yet learned to read (i.e. record labels).

Mom and Dad had a small record player and collection of 78s down on the farm. One day Dad brought home YCBTD, a vocal by the Sportsmen Quartet on Capitol (I think), but there wasn't one note of organ music in it and the Sportsmen made a sort of 'gargle' sound and gargled their way through the instrumental interlude (bridge) portion Ken Griffin wrote (they were serious - this was not a Spike Jones record!). And so this record was pretty disappointing to my young ears. Poor Dad, he tried! Ken Griffin was not a household name with him either, but things were about to change. Years later I thought it was too bad someone at the record shop didn't steer him to the big hit version. Rondo was a small label and maybe the store ran out of copies. Then too, there were at least twelve other competing versions out on this tune; he may have been 'steered' to one of those by some sales person or maybe he just picked up the Sportsmen record.

Dad had grown weary of farming. He wanted to be in charge - he would have his day all planned out, then Grandpa would stop by the farm and change everything. So Dad returned to his first love of being a power plant operator and the family left the farm and eventually moved to West Burlington, after living in two other towns during the interim. I went to three different schools in the fourth grade!

In West Burlington (by 1955) I had become acquainted with Marsha and Gwen, two girls next door who were about my age (11). They loved to play their parents' records which included several 78s by KG on both the Broadcast and Rondo labels. When my folks bought me a portable record player, I was off to a record shop where I bought my first record, a KG 45-rpm (EPR-7 from the Rondo extended play series). Remember when record stores had listening booths so you could play a record before you bought it? Anyway, after acquiring five or six records in that series with my allowance money, Dad and Mom really surprised me one Christmas eve and had gotten me the remaining records in that series which I still have today. At that time I also collected a few of KG's Broadcast and more Columbia 45-rpm singles with their state-of-the-art superior quality sound.

When I was 11, kids acted more like kids than children do today, and we did all kinds of play to pass the time and amuse ourselves. I once had a miniature carnival with motorized rides and little tents I had made along with side shows and concession stands (or gyp-joints as my brother and I called them at the carnivals). Since I went in for 'realism', the rides could be taken apart, put on toy Tonka' trucks and transported across the back yard to another location (the next town?) and set up for the next run. I ran a long drop cord for electricity and my portable record player was nearby playing what else? - Ken Griffin organ music for the midway! So you can see this music holds lots of nostalgia for me of a happy carefree childhood, in addition to being a pure joy to listen to.

I can remember taking my KG collection to school in the sixth grade to vocal music class A few of the tunes on my records were also in our song book and so Mrs. Reid, the teacher, had the class join in and sing along with songs like Cielito Lindo ('Aye yi-yi-yi'), The Skater's Waltz, Santa Lucia, and Casey Jones to the accompaniment of my favorite, the one and only, Ken Griffin. What fun!

Jim, a neighbor boy who was my brother's age (about four years older than me), was very spoiled by his rich parents, but he had fun 'toys'. Most of the other kids thought Jim was a snob, but my brother and I were invited in to his 'inner sanctum' (basement) where he had the first hi-fi in the neighborhood with a big 15 inch woofer, mid-range speakers, and horns (this was before stereo). He loved to vibrate the rafters with his booming bass (his mom wasn't too fond of that) and he played an early hi-fi demo record Hearing is Believing. He had an extensive collection of 45s and a couple of Ken Griffin IPs. He would play a record he no longer liked and exclaim "that's the last time you'll hear that one!" then break it and toss the pieces over his shoulder. He was so careless about his records that were strewn all over the floor, sometimes he would walk right over them! One time I took my KG collection over there and had to admit, his hi-fi with juke box bass sounded much better than my little portable. He had a newer KG album with the Wurlitzer ES and I wasn't sure if I liked this new sound compared to the Hammond. He had an old pump organ, from a church, in the basement to which he had hooked up a vacuum cleaner so he wouldn't have to pump the organ. It worked pretty well, except you heard the constant drone of an Electrolux the whole time he was playing!

I remember Jim was the one who told my brother and me that he heard Ken Griffin had died. This was a shock to me to think Ken's music-making was over, especially since I had just discovered him a year earlier and was really just starting my collection. It almost seemed like Columbia Records was trying to keep his death a secret because nothing on the album liner notes ever mentioned it and Columbia continued releasing his music well into the '60s. I thought Jim was just making it up to tease me. I hadn't seen the newspaper with the sad news if, indeed, it was even in the local paper.

In grade school, junior and senior high, I played snare drum and other percussion instruments (traps as we used to call them) in the school bands and was developing an interest in classical music. I think that started with Strauss waltzes and Victory at Sea, composed by Richard Rodgers.

After graduating from Iowa State University where I studied graphic design, I settled into my first real job as a staff designer at a large television station in Milwaukee, WTMJ-TV. That was in the fall of 1967. I think it was 1968 when I walked in to a big record store in Milwaukee and saw an LP (re-channeled stereo) of KG's Greatest Hits. I had to have it.

Several years later in the late 70s I was working as an Art Director in Public Television at WNED-TV in Buffalo, NY. One beautiful summer day, I crossed the Niagara River on the Peace Bridge to Ontario, Canada and drove to Crystal Beach Amusement Park which had a roller coaster near the shore of Lake Erie. The park had seen better days when a ferryboat took people from Buffalo over there during summer in the '40s and early '50s. There had been a casino that featured the big bands-Glenn Miller, Guy Lombardo, etc. That was all gone. As I was walking through the grounds I came across a roller rink that was still playing Ken Griffin records - talk about being lost in the '50s and what a trip down memory lane it was. The Amusement park is gone now, but I'll always remember hearing the music from Skating Time at the roller rink.

I have a good memory fortunes I have heard. As I began collecting KG recordings, I now had song titles to connect with the already familiar melodies of KG I had heard on the midway at fairs. For instance, I remembered this catchy little tune while on an airplane ride at an amusement park that turned out to be KG's Cuckoo Waltz. I recall another really beautiful tune I had heard on the carousel that turned out to be Heavenly Hawaii, and so it was with Louisiana Waltz (still prefer the Hammond version with the organ bell trills), Have You Heard?, I Don't Know Why, etc. I never knew the title of another piece I heard and until the CD of it came out a few years ago, it remained a mystery - it was Flirtation Waltz. Thanks to Eric Larson, I now have his CD of KG's My Isle of Golden Dreams, which I had never heard before and it is on my list of the top ten - love that countermelody!

Andy Antonczyk once asked me what was so appealing to me about Ken's music. The best I've come up with, so far, is this: That first hearing at age five literally struck a chord in me and this is still happening some 55 years later! Initially it was the big, full, brilliant, and rich sound with his left-handed countermelody playing and harmony that became his signature Eric Larson said that Ken developed a deceptively simple style of playing (what's the phrase? - 'often imitated, but never quite equalled'). His musical abilities from long hours of hard practice to perfect his craft paid off with ultimate articulation and accuracy in his keyboard and pedal technique. He was so very adept at countermelody  playing, and became more creative with harmony. He used the Hammond's acoustical environment as well as overdubbing to add extra parts and effects as necessary. Then there was his knowledge of esoteric recording techniques. His playing still amazes me whenever I listen to his recordings. His music was thrilling to hear and can you imagine what a glorious state he must have been in, playing it? It's no wonder he was smiling all the time - his music was filled with joy.

Eric Larson is simply the best and deserves to be picked up by a major label now! (he, like all of us, is not getting any younger). I felt he could use a little help with his CD graphics, though, and did a retro cover design for him using the early Rondo red and silver colors and that curvy music staff for a prototype cover and back for hisTribute to Ken Griffin CD.

You can imagine how overjoyed I was to see the KG Memorial Page website several years ago and then Bill's even better website - so glad he came forth to do it. I thought I was about the only one left who still liked Ken's music. This revival of interest in Ken Griffin, in recent years, spawned by the websites and reissue of his music on CDs has been truly phenomenal. I truly hope these Afternoon with KG concerts will continue to be an annual event - really something to look forward to.

This year I produced an hour pilot program proposal 'The Music of the Movies,' a film music series targeted for Public Radio. I wrote the script, selected the music, and performed voice-overs and narration. Then graphics had to be designed for the demo CD cover, label, and letterhead. My primary target for the project is KSUI-FM, which is licensed to The University of Iowa. Have been talking to them, but they are going through consolidation of programming with two other state supported universities and the formation of a new Iowa Public Radio network with a newly appointed Director. So it may be a while longer before I know where I stand re: this.

My Best to You (may your dreams come true...)

PS: I can't remember how I stumbled across this info, but YCBTD was listed among other song credits in a movie 'The Two Jakes' (1990), a sequel to Chinatown which opens in the postwar boom of 1948 Southern California. Jack Nicholson reprised his role as the lead detective character. I'm assuming it was the Ken Griffin version but haven't found time to check it out.

KEN GRIFFIN

YOU CAN'T BE TRUE, DEAR Rondo 228 (1948). This record was probably heard by every American alive during the 1950s, since it was a staple in the carnival/fair/amusement park "merry-go-round" repertoire, as well as roller skating and ice skating rinks.

The circumstances of this recording are unique. Organist Ken Griffin made the disc for the Chicago-based Rondo label on New Year's Eve of 1947, primarily as music to accompany ice skaters in the public rinks. It attracted considerable attention from the skaters and was brought to the notice of songwriter/publisher Dave Dreyer of New York. Dreyer wanted to add a vocal to the tune, so he got Jerry Wayne (a Hollywood film actor and later star of the London production of Guys and Dolls) to dub a lyric on to the Griffin disc. The words were literally written while the singer waited to do the recording. In the studio, Wayne was fitted with headphones into which was fed the organ solo, and he tried for some time to match the words with the tune. Although the original recording made no provision for a vocal and there was no break in the melody to allow a voice to slip in, in addition to which it was in the wrong key for Wayne, the dubbing was finalized to everyone's satisfaction. The resultant disc is probably the first big success for a recording made by the superimposition of voice on to an already existent recording.

YOU CAN'T BE TRUE, DEAR was originally written in 1935 in Germany - "Du kannst nicht treu sein". The Ken Griffin version became a huge international hit in the spring of 1948, charting for 23 weeks and staying No. 1 for seven, selling an estimated 3.5 million copies. Griffin then went into the top twenty with THE CUCKOO WALTZ Rondo 128 in the summer of 1948. It charted in June and, a few weeks later, was followed onto the lists by the flip side, the original non-vocal take of YOU CAN'T BE TRUE, DEAR, which stayed at No. 2 for seven weeks. In the summer of 1950, Griffin signed with the larger Columbia.

          YOU CAN'T BE TRUE, DEAR

© 1948 Biltmore Music  Corporation;
    New York, NY

Original lyrics by Gerhard Ebeler English lyrics by Hal Cotton Music by Hans Often Adaptation by Ken Griffin

               You Can't Be True, Dear, there's nothing more to say
               I trusted you, dear, hoping we'd find a way
               Your kisses tell me that you and I are through,
               But I'll keep loving you, although you can't be true

               Clouds hide the sun in the skies that were blue
               As my heart says farewell to the joy that I knew
               Love to be real is a love to be shared,
               But I know that you never cared

© 1984 Joseph Murrells Million Selling Records—1900s to 1980s
© 1994 Bruce C. Elrod Your Hit Parade—America's Top Ten Hits

 

 

The record that started it all—the first record I ever bought was this Ken Griffin 45-rpm which I got with my allowance money at about age 11 in 1955. I would have chosen EPR-1 (You Can't Be True Dear and The Cuckoo Waltz), but it wasn't in stock and had to be ordered.

Although the cover design for these 'mini' albums was printed in only one color, the color varied and so some were blue, and others were brown, red, orange, or green.

KEN GRIFFIN

RONDO 45-RPM EXTENDED PLAY SERIES

This Rondo collection of 18 records with four tunes on each for a total of 72 appears to be the best of Ken's work on that label. It is a collection I have not seen on eBay or elsewhere. Some of It shows up in the Donald Boudreaux KG Discography, but some of it is also missing from his list as I'm sure you have found with your collection.

I am not sure exactly which year the series was released, but it had to be after the introduction of 45s in 1949 or the early '50s and since I bought the first record (EPR-7) in 1955, this would make the collection about 50 years old! I have all but one record (which I'll explain later) and they appear to be in good condition, though I haven't played them in probably ten years. My parents got me a little red metal carrying case which has served to protect these 45s through all of the years.

According to Andy Antonczyk, these high quality pressings are on soft plastic and most of them you find today are pretty badly deteriorated because they were not handled with great care over the years. The translucent red recordings were made on virgin vinyl and while they have very little background noise, the downside is they are soft, very fragile, and easily damaged.

I no longer have the proper equipment in working order to play them. I bought a nice Mitsubishi direct drive turntable with tangential tone arm back in the early eighties and all it would need is a couple of diodes and two lamps to put it back into running order again, but due to the age and fact those parts are no longer available, the player has been rendered useless. I've looked at turntables at electronics stores and the few that are available look so plastic and cheaply made, I doubt if they would last five years. But if I am going to hear these records again and some 350 LPs in my collection plus multiplied dozens of singles, I will need to get a turntable, or else have some of it converted to CDs as you have done.

I have not seen some of the tunes in this collection on either eBay, GEMM, or in the Boudreaux discography. Those tunes include The Whistler and His Dog, Santa Lucia, The Prune Song (Rondo version, not Broadcast) and a much faster version of The 12th Street Rag than Columbia.

 

The original 78-rpm Rondo label had the logo in an attention-getting bright red, rather crudely hand-lettered cursive style, along with a curvy music staff on a silver background and the lower portion was a reverse with silver type on a solid red background. Later it was changed to a deeper all red color with silver trademark and type, possibly to bring it into conformity with the design format modification that was necessary for the emerging 'unbreakable' 45-rpm size introduced in 1949.

The 45-rpm label with the large hole required modification of the logo for a better fit. The letterforms for 'Rondo' were more rounded and refined on a music staff consisting of six lines instead of the customary five. The designer took 'artistic license' and added an extra line in order to center the name for better balance. The curve of the staff was also changed and became more symmetrical. This was a distinctive, perfected design reminiscent of the 1930s art deco style that worked so well and I was sorry to see it dropped later in favor of the simpler 'modern' lower case 'r' which was simple all right and boring.


Rondo 78 Red & Silver label

 

Broadcast 416 (G-4016) in the original sleeve which is brown kraft paper with brown (burnt sienna) printing. Although "Broadcast" appears in a nice script on the sleeve, it does not match the logo on the record, but perhaps corporate visual identity in the late 1940s and early '50s was not as important as today. Note the Chicago address. The record is a virgin vinyl translucent red.

The Broadcast logo had also undergone changes in adapting to the 45-rpm format. The brown logo and type on yellow background of the 78s gave way to a less colorful, but classier, bolder reversal for the 45s with silver logo and type on a dark brown background.


Broadcast 78 Yellow & Brown label

Looking at these record jacket backs, it appears Rondo originally released the extended play 45-rpm
series as eight records. The first seven records I collected were the usual
black vinyl pressings (possibly
older stock items from the record store?).

EPR-2 arrived in translucent red virgin vinyl in a jacket that showed ten additional records added to the series. Mom and Dad ordered all of the remaining discs for a Christmas gift to me and all of those were 'see-through' red. EPR-9 was apparently unavailable from the distributor and is missing from my collection. It is listed as Elmer Ihrke: Christmas Melodies. Elmer Ihrke was apparently another organist who recorded for Rondo according to The Rondo Records Story website. He was also an arranger of organ music, from another website, and so it is unclear if EPR-9 is even a Ken Griffin recording. It would seem rather odd to throw another organist into what is supposed to be a KG collection, but Rondo has done strange things before - such as Rondo-lette LP A-30 which is not KG!

MY KEN GRIFFIN COLLECTION

RONDO-LETTE LP                                     COLUMBIA 45
A 17 Sentimental Me                                   4-39142  So Long / My Heart Cries For You
A 38 Christmas Organ                                 4-39775  In A Chapel By The Side of the Road
                                                                                Rosary Lane
COLUMBIA LP                                           4-39809  AufWiederseh'n, Sweetheart
CL 6177   Anniversary Songs                                     Have You Heard? 
CL610      Skating Time                               4-39966  Louisiana Waltz                                                  
CL 662     Lost in a Cloud                                           When You Wore a Tulip                                              
CL 692     Organ Plays at Christmas            4-40039  You You You / No Other Love                              
CL 761     Cruising Down the River               4-40101  I Don't Know Why / It Had To Be You                               
CL 907     You Can't Be True, Dear              4-40221  I Get So Lonely / The Little Old Mill
CS 9043   Love Letters in the Sand                                 
CL 1062   Hawaiian Magic                          SONY CD                                              
CL1127    Let's Have A Party                      A-18738 Magic Organ Moods                                             
CL1411    Sweet and Lively                        A-23389 Waltz Favorites                                              
CS 8848   Moonlight and Roses                 A-27995 Anniversary Songs / Skating Time                                      
CS 1365   KG Plays Romantic Waltzes      MHCP707 Hawaiian Magic
CL1599    To Each His Own                                              
CL 1645   Enduring Hymns                        ERIC LARSON KG CD
CL1709    The Sparkling Touch                   A Tribute to KG KG
CS9517   Greatest Hits                              A Tribute to KG (revised)                                                 
G 30552   Best of KG                                My Best Music to You

HARMONY LP
HS 11184   Sentimental Serenade
HS 11226   Ebb Tide
HS 11329   Sentimental Journey
                                                            
                                    
BROADCAST 45/ 78
45-416 Ballad To A Lovely Lady / Lili Marlene
45-417 Missouri Waltz / Aloha Oe
45-419 Red Wing / Do You Ever Think of Me
78-430 Sentimental Journey / St. Louis Blues

ERP-1      ERP-7      ERP-14
ERP-2      EPR-8      ERP-15
ERP-3 
     EPR-10     ERP-16    (Titles previously listed)
ERP-4      EPR-11    ERP-17
ERP-5      EPR-12    ERP-18
ERP-6      ERP-13
R-137 
      If I Had You / Little Brown Jug
45213      Sentimental Me / My Blue Heaven

Update October 2006

Bryon came across some publishing dates rescently.

RONDO                                                                            BROADCAST
128   4-48   Cuckoo Waltz / You Can't Be True, Dear            4006  3-48   You Can't Be True /
129   5-48   Ciribiribin / Donkey Serenade                            Barcarolle
146   7-48   Bumble Bee On a Bender / You Darling             
150  10-48   If I Had You / Brown Jug Polka                         BROADCAST RECORDING
154  11-48   ?                                                                    512   11-50   ? 
157  12-48   ?                                                                    4071  2-52    ?
187   3-49   You're My Long Song / Miller's Daughter
188   4-49   Lady of Spain / The Shades are Down
192   7-49   Beautiful Wisconsin / By the Waters of Minnetonka
199  10-49   College Medley / Sweetheart of Sigma Chi
214   1-50   Till We Meet Again / Tiger Rag
221   2-50   Half a Heart / Under a Red Umbrella
222   3-50   Jumping Beans / Music, Music, Music
225   4-50   Bayadere / Liebestraum
238   7-50   ?
239  8-50    ?   (Ken had switched to Columbia in the summer of 1950) 
261  5-51    ?
300  7-52    ?
301  2-53    ?
303  4-53    ?

The lines with ? are probably not Ken Griffin recordings.

Update 25. 04. 08.
Edited 16th May 2008.

A lawsuit concerning copyright issues over the song You Can't Be True, Dear went to the US
Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit (Southern California District) in 1950 and was instituted by Plaintiffs Biltmore Music Corporation and Herbert Brownell Jr, the Attorney General of the USA against Defendant Robert W. Kittinger, who was President and GM of Chicago Recording Studios (Broadcast Records).  This case dragged on until it was finally settled December 17, 1956, barely a couple of months before Ken Griffin passed away.  The facts in the case are complicated, but in essence they appear as follows.

Note: What was of interest to me was not only the trial, but info re: the dates both You Can't Be True (Broadcast label) and You Can't Be True, Dear (Rondo label) were recorded and released, the reasons for two recordings, and how they came about through the efforts of Ken Griffin, which was described in some detail.  Here are the interesting facts gleaned from the document...

A NEW ARRANGEMENT BY KEN GRIFFIN

The story really begans prior to January 1, 1935, when Gerhard Ebeler and Hans Otten, then Nationals of Germany, composed the lyrics and music, respectively, of a musical composition titled Du Kannst Nicht Treu Sein and thereafter assigned all of their rights therein to Gerhard Ebeler Verlag, a German publisher, who, during the year 1935, made application for and was granted a copyright registration. At the time the copyright was issued, citizens of Germany were entitled to copyright in the USA by virtue of Presidential proclaimation to that effect.  Between 1935 and 1938 Gerhard Ebeler Verlag, the then copyright owner, licensed a German company, Electrola, to manufacture and sell phonograph records of Du Kannst Nicht Treu Sein in Germany.

During 1938 the RCA Victor Division of Radio Corporation of America placed phono records of the composition on sale in the USA.  These records were made in the US from the master made in Germany by Electrola.  RCA had no license nor permission to manufacture or sell these records and also paid no royalties and at no time prior to April 1948 notified Gerhard Ebeler Verlag, the Alien Property Custodian (later the US Attorney General), or Biltmore Music Corporation that the recording had been manufactured or released.  RCA was under the impression the composition was mechanically free in the USA.

Between January 1, 1947 and January 1, 1949, Robert W. Kittinger was President and GM of Chicago Recording Studios, Inc. (hereinafter referred to as CRS), an Illinois corporation engaged in manufacturing and selling phonograph records.  Kittinger arranged for the recording, release, and sales of all  phono records issued by CRS. 

Shortly prior to August 20, 1947 musician/organist Ken Griffin contacted Kittinger and advised him he had made a number of arrangements of various musical compositions which he was willing to record for the production of masters.  These were the original recordings used for the production of dies from which phono records were produced.

On August 20, 1947 Kittinger, acting on behalf of CRS employed Ken Griffin, under a written contract for a consideration of $165 which was paid to Griffin to record eight masters.  Ken made those recordings one of which was a new arrangement of the composition as an organ solo which he had previously composed and which he played and recorded from memory inasmuch as he had not made a written score of it.  (Note: This would suggest the first Ken Griffin recordings on the Broadcast label were all made and released sometime after August 20, 1947 and not in 1946 as some have reported.)

In October 1947 CRS issued phono records of this new arrangement by Ken Griffin under the title You Can't Be True on their Broadcast label and its serial number 460.  Between October 1, 1947 and March 16, 1948, under the management of Kittinger, CRS sold 4000 records of the new arrangement and 203,000 more between March 16, 1948 and March 14, 1952.  (Note: In his book The American 45- and 78-RPM Dating Guide (1985), William Daniels gave an issue date of 3-'48 for You Can't Be True by Ken Griffin on the Broadcast label.  That date seems unlikely to me in view of the foregoing and one would think the court documents, where dates really matter, would be more accurate.)

Neither Kittinger nor CRS at any time filed a statutory notice of intention to use the 'composition' or the new arrangement or paid the mechanical fees required by the Copyright Act, or any other royalties, or had the permission of the Alien Property Custodian or Gerhard Ebeler Verlag or J.F. Bard or J.F. Bard Company Inc, or Biltmore to manufacture or sell records of the 'composition' or the new arrangement.  

Between August 20, 1947, and January 1, 1948, Griffin recorded the new arrangement a second time for the production of a master.  The second recording was made for Rondo Records, Inc, a phono record manufacturer which was a competitor of CRS (Broadcast).  (Note: If Wilfred Hosteland is correct in saying Ken recorded his biggest hit on New Year's Eve of 1947, that would certainly fit into the time frame above.  However it would have to be the solo organ Rondo master and not the original Broadcast version which had already been recorded sometime after August 20, 1947 and released in October of 1947 when Ken was working for Broadcast Records.) 

When Ken recorded You Can't Be True, Dear this second time, Julius F. Bard was the Vice President of Rondo Records.  Rondo was founded by Bard, who became President, and Executive NIck Lany.  Bard, after hearing the new arrangement played by Ken personally and after hearing the record of it issued by CRS, and on or about February 11, 1948, composed and wrote his own arrangement and his own lyrics to the music of Du Kannst Nicht Treu Sein and secured an unpublished registration thereon.

Thereafter and prior to March 15, 1948, Dave Dreyer of the Biltmore Music Corporation (who had not heard the record issued by CRS or the new arrangement played by Ken personally) and Bard collaborated in composing English lyrics for the new arrangement, which was entitled You Can't Be True, Dear.  [Note: Dave Dreyer arranged for the English lyrics to be written by Hal Cotton, according to Million Selling Records (1984) by Joseph Murrells.  The names Ebeler, Otten, Cotton, and Griffin appear under the title on the recordings.]  Those lyrics are a loose translation of the original German lyrics by Gerhard Ebeler. The English lyrics and new arrangement constitute the Biltmore publication.  

On February 17, 1948 Ken signed and delivered to Bard a written instrument, purporting to be an assignment to Bard of the new arrangement.

Three days later on February 20, 1948, Ken entered into a written agreement with CRS to record exclusively for them (Broadcast Recordings).  At the same time CRS paid Ken an advance royalty of $250.

On February 24, 1948 all rights, privileges and powers in connection with the copyright were seized and vested by the Alien Property Custodian and title thereto was transferred to the Attorney General of the United States.

On March 2, 1948 J.F. Bard Company, Inc which was engaged in the business of distributing phono records was granted a license, No. E1277 by the Office of the Alien Property Custodian which permitted Bard Company to publish sheet music and issue phono records on the Rondo label of the composition in the form of a new arrangement and with the new lyrics. (Note: You will find printed under the title You Can't Be True, Dear on Rondo--'by Special Permission Under License of the Attorney General--No. E1277'). This license permitted Bard Company to sublicense others for the same purposes and to assign copyrights over to Biltmore.

Bard assigned a copyright to Biltmore which was recorded in the US Copyright Office March 8, 1948.  Bard would testify that on March 8 he assigned to Biltmore the rights which he had acquired from Griffin under the instrument and that Biltmore assumed his obligations there-under; he would further testify that this assignment was oral and not recorded in the United States Copyright Office.

On March 8, 1948, Biltmore Music Corp. was incorporated under the laws of the State of New York.  On March 12, Dreyer was elected President and Bard was elected Vice President of Biltmore.  On March 9, Biltmore filed a Notice of Use in the US Copyright Office.

Shortly prior to March 15, 1948, Biltmore published sheet music copies of You Can't Be True, Dear consisting of the new arrangement and the new lyrics with Copyright 1948 on the first page.  Biltmore was granted Copyright Registration on April 9. 

On March 16, 1948, Bard wired Defendant Kittinger as follows: 'Stop immediately pressing You Can't Be True, Dear, as infringement of valid copyright controlled by Biltmore Music Corp, 1650 Broadway, New York, vested with Attorney General.  Apply to Biltmore Music Corp, for license otherwise their attorney will take out injunction. To avoid heavy penalty under law, suggest you get in touch with me immediately.'

Kittinger and CRS failed to answer this telegram and at no time did either of them request or obtain from Bard Company or Biltmore a license or pay any royalties to either or any other firm, corporation, or person in connection with its phono records of the new arrangement.

Then on March 18, 1948, Kittinger wrote to the Office of Alien Property requesting forms for filing an application for a license with respect to the new arrangement.  Correspondence ensued between Kittinger and Alien Property, but no license was issued to CRS/Kittinger.

On May 10, 1948 Ken Griffin entered into a written agreement with Biltmore respecting the new arrangement and beginning in March 1948, Biltmore publicized and exploited You Can't Be True, Dear at a substantial expense.  The tune achieved great popularity and ultimately became one of the most popular song hits in America.  (Note: It is difficult to pinpoint the exact date of the Rondo release of You Can't Be True, Dear (Rondo 228) with vocal by Jerry Wayne.  It was issued before the release of Rondo 128, the Griffin solo Hammond version, although the master for R-128 was recorded first and used to dub in the voice of Wayne on R-228.)

Between March 18, 1948 and November 9, 1948 Biltmore licensed 18 phono record manufacturing companies, including Rondo Records, to manufacture and sell records of R-228 You Can't Be True, Dear.  (Note: March 18, 1948 has to be getting close to the time Rondo first released 228.  The Daniels book mentioned earlier has a release date of April 1948.  

On September 8, 1948 Biltmore's attorneys wrote to Broadcast Record Company for the attention of Kittinger stating that it was infringing Biltmore's copyright.

In 1950 plaintiffs instituted suit for copyright infringement against CRS and Kittinger in the State of Illinois.  (Note: That being said, what is unclear is how this suit wound up in Southern California).  Plaintiffs were unable to effect service upon Kittinger in their action.

At no time was a Notice of Use filed in the Copyright Office by Ken Griffin with respect to the new arrangement.  At no time was a Notice of Use filed in the Copyright Office by the Office of Alien Property, or the US Attorney General, or Gerhard Ebeler, or Gerhard Ebeler Verlag, or Hans Otten, or anyone else, except for the Notice of Use mentioned earlier with regard to Bard Company (and its sublicensing) which assigned its rights to Biltmore.

Kittinger had at no time sold phono records of an arrangement of the composition other than the new arrangement as first recorded by Griffin as an organ solo for CRS.  The sale of records of the new arrangement by Kittinger, identified by the title You Can't Be True (Broadcast label), was at all times with the permission of CRS.

In dismissing the complaint, the Court held, without specifying the basis for its conclusions:

(1) The failure of the copyright owner, Gerhard Ebeler Verlag, of the original composition Du Kannst Nicht Treu Sein to file a notice of use precluded any recovery from Defendant Kittinger for his recording of that composition;

2) Ken Griffin, the composer of the arrangement, had authorized Defendant Kittinger to make and sell records of his arrangement;

(3) The failure of the Plaintiff's assignor to file a notice of use in respect of the arrangement precluded any recovery from the defendant for its recording of the arrangement; and

(4) Because the arrangement had not been published before copyright was secured, the claim of copyright subsequently registered was invalid.

Since 4000 Broadcast label records were sold and used by the public before there was an application for statutory copyright protection by March 15, 1948, it was decided the application for copyright on that date did away with the rights acquired by the defendant before that time.  The questions resolved by the court were largely questions of fact.  No finding on this phase had been shown to be clearly erroneous, and the rules were correctly stated.

Ken Griffin was thereby relieved of the necessity of obtaining permission of these owners to devise and record the new arrangement.  Since he was the composer of the new arrangement, he was vested with the right to grant valid licenses and this was a vested property right which he could assign.

Biltmore Music Corp could therefore acquire no exclusive rights to the new arrangement in entire disregard of the fact Griffin had recorded this variation for the production of a master and sold it to Kittinger.  Thereafter, according to the stipulation, the defendant had at no time since August 20, 1947, sold phono records of an arrangement of the composition 'other than the new arrangement as first recorded by Griffin as an organ solo for CRS.'  The statute provides 'any failure to file such notice shall be a complete defense to any suit, action, or proceeding for any infringement of such copyright.'

However, the trial judge went beyond this primary question and likewise determined the statutory copyright registered March 15, 1948, was invalid.  This was not involved in the issues before the court, although it had been raised by the pleadings.  It was stated "We think it was sufficient to follow the language of the statute and hold that the failure to give notice of use was a complete statutory defense to all acts being done by Kittinger and CRS since August 20, 1947...Otherwise, the judgement is affirmed."

An interesting side note: Several years ago in an email to the KG Memorial Page, former Los Angeles radio personality Johnny Mellen had some interesting comments about Broadcast Records being a kind of small mom and pop operation in Long Beach, California run by 'Bob and Jean Kishner' back in 1949.  He went on to say the 'Kishners' could not fill the orders fast enough and so Ken Griffin started his own label, Rondo, and put out You Can't Be True, Dear on his is own.  [Note: While this may seem likely, it raises another unanswered question: Does this mean Ken hired Bard and Lany who were described in The Rondo Records Story website to be the founders of the company?  Mellen was not certain about the name 'Kishner' or the date of 1949.  In view of the above material he probably meant Bob Kittinger, who, indeed, was head of CRS.  You Can't Be True was released on the CRS Broadcast label in October of 1947.  The trial notes indicate Chicago Recording Studios was an Illinois corporation.  However, the trial was held in the Southern District of CA (probably Los Angeles) and the notes also indicate Kittinger resided in Long Beach, CA.  So although CRS was located in Chicago, were Broadcast Records made in Long Beach or had the whole operation moved to California sometime after 1947???--another Ken Griffin mystery!]

A PERSONAL, ORGAN RELATED STORY

I took a job well over a year ago running a beautiful replica of a Victorian Carousel--a part time job at a local mall.  It is a fun job. The animals were all hand-painted at the factory and the detailing of each (30 plus two chariots) is quite amazing taking approximately 100 hours for each at the world's largest carousel manufacturer in Wichita, Kansas.  Most of the time we play CDs of the authentic type Band Organ music associated with carousels.  However, later in the evenings, I sometimes play a compilation disc I made of 31 Ken Griffin tunes suitable for the Merry-Go-Round.

One Sunday, a sweet elderly white-haired grandma came up to the gate in a wheel chair; she had one of those portable oxygen tanks.  The lady told me it was her birthday, she was 87, and she wanted to ride!  Her son and daughter helped her get on one of the large horses when she said to me the music being played was not the music she remembered on carousels.  So I asked her if she was referring to the carousel organ music played everywhere back in the '40s and '50s--namely Ken Griffin?  She said "Oh yes, and I still have some of his records."  I put a disc on the music system that begins with YCBTD and she absolutely loved it.  She did two rides and when through, with tears in her eyes she said, "What wonderful memories that brings back. This was the best birthday I ever had and I will always remember it!"  Upon leaving she mentioned having once attended a Ken Griffin concert in Cedar Rapids (about 25 miles north of here).

13th. August 2010 Update....

I found a good website discography on the Columbia singles of their artists. According to the listing, the
Hammond version of Louisiana Waltz was the first recording of the tune recorded June 1, 1952 (see below).
I can find no single 78 or 45 of the later Wurlitzer version. The Wurlitzer version was first heard on the LP album 67 Melody Lane which came out nearly two years later after the TV series of 1954 in February 1956.
 
Here's the listing:
 
COLUMBIA (Microphone label, USA) 39500 to 40000 Numerical Listing

Label:   Artist:              Tune:                                      MX:           Xref:     Ctrl:     Date:    Comp:
39966 KEN GRIFFIN WHEN YOU WORE A TULIP CCO5389 -------- --------- 6/?/52 --------
39966 KEN GRIFFIN LOUISIANA WALTZ CCO5387 -------- --------- 6/?/52 --------
(This is the Hammond version)
 

Discography / LOUISIANA WALTZ by KEN GRIFFIN

  • LOUISIANA WALTZ
    KEN GRIFFIN
    39966
    June 1, 1952
    November 28, 2009 - 2:10pm

    Label: 39966; Artist: KEN GRIFFIN; Tune: LOUISIANA WALTZ; MX: CCO5387; Date: 6/?/52

    Columbia
    COLUMBIA (USA)
    Tyrone Settlemier
     
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This is the website covering all the Columbia singles released. Scroll down to Columbia USA
and click on series 38500 (1949-1950)...
It appears these were the first tunes Ken recorded after the move to Columbia. Some accounts say that move
was in the summer of 1950, but according to the info below, those two songs were recorded in January 1950
(interesting). This is assuming the records were issued in numerical order (number 38826 being issued before
38827, 38828, etc.).
 
Label:   Artist:                                           Tune:                                             MX:           Xref:     Ctrl:     Date:        Comp:
38826 KEN GRIFFIN LITTLE SALLY ONE SHOE CCO5144 -------- -------- 01/??/50 ---------
38826 KEN GRIFFIN ROSES CCO5143 - - 01/??/50 -
38827 KEN GRIFFIN ARE YOU LONESOME TONIGHT CCO5142 - - 01/??/50 -
38827 KEN GRIFFIN WHEN I LOST YOU CCO5150 - - 01/??/50 -
38828 GENE AUTRY & DINAH SHORE OLD RUGGED CROSS HCO4041 - - 03/??/50 -
38828 GENE AUTRY & DINAH SHORE IN THE GARDEN HCO4042 - - 03/??/50 -

Many of the following are not listed as singles in either your discography or Don Boudreaux. Some do not even have
the same number shown in Boudreau (???). If you click on any title below in blue, it gives the year that tune was recorded

 

KEN GRIFFIN Columbia Singles

 

 

When I wrote yesterday I forgot to include a personal recollection involving Ken Griffin's Lazy River...


THE TOBY & SUSIE SHOW

My memory of Lazy River goes back to the early '50s in Wapello, Iowa and my first experience with live "theatre".

A traveling big tent show, Toby & Susie, was set up in the schoolyard. The shows were usually one or two act Vaudevillian-type skits (sketch comedy) with a small pit orchestra though Vaudeville had been long dead by the 1950s. The show was augmented with a variety of acts: a juggler, an acrobat, popular or classical musicians, a comedian, a magician, and a trained animal act.

Toby and Susie travelled all over the USA putting on their shows and it was truly a slice of Americana. Before the shows, an old sound truck would make the rounds through the streets of our town promoting the evening's show, carnival barker style. The sound truck was playing a record of Lazy River by Ken Griffin (first time I heard Ken's version). I don't remember if it was the Broadcast Records version that was played, but I think it may have been the spiffier, faster version of the tune Ken had rerecorded for Columbia.

=

To Bryon's "Rondo "Ken Griffin Years"

 

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