Ben Selvin

Benjamin B. Selvin ( born March 5, 1898 in New York City; † July 15, 1980 in Manhasset / New York ) was a band leader of the Tin Pan Alley period and is one of the most prolific artists of all time English speaking board.


Ben Selvin was the son of Russian Jewish emigrants. At the age of seven, he began playing the violin in Charles Strickland's orchestra, made ​​his first appearance on Broadway in 1913, in September 1917, he led his own orchestra. His first recording contract he signed with Victor Records in July 1919 where the first recording with Selvin 's Novelty Orchestra was founded on July 31, 1919, titled I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles, the same was after the publication in August 1919 to success and for four weeks the first rank of the hit parade finished. In the same recording date yet emerged Mandy / Novelty One Step, which reached a fifth.

Already the third single Dardanella, taken on November 20, 1919 and written by Fred Fisher / Felix Bernard / Johnny S. Black, one of the most successful records of the fledgling record industry. She remained after publication in February 1920 for 13 weeks on the first rank, had implemented three million singles already after a short time, eventually reaching a total sales of 6.5 million albums in addition to 2 million sheets of music, arranged by Arthur Lange. It was the largest plate Selvins success in the style of syncopated dance music, as he will maintain in the future. Dar plate sales of Dardanella sales remained moderate to Bill Haley's Rock Around the Clock in 1955 to none.

Many record companies

Selvins plates appeared in 1920, not only with Victor, but also for Vocalion Records, Okeh Records, Paramount Records or Brunswick Records; resounding successes were not there. In June 1921 he signed a recording contract with Vocalion. His first album for the new label was not instrumental tracks, but sung by Irving Kaufman and recorded In May 1923, Yes! We Have No Bananas, published in June 1923. The at March 23, 1923 Song copyright registered lost a plagiarism trial because he had taken four notes of the Hallelujah Chorus of the Messiah oratorio by George Frideric Handel. The cover version of Selvin occupied for two weeks topped the charts, the original of the Great White Way Orchestra from April 26, 1923 came just prior to # 3. In the aftermath Selvin also arranged vocal recordings in which Ruth Etting and Annette Hanshaw especially singing.

Columbia Records

On September 1, 1924 his recording contract ended with Vocalion. Selvin switched to Columbia Records, who offered him in November 1927 a three-year contract. At Columbia, he celebrated again top hits like Oh, How I Miss You Tonight (recorded on April 11, 1925, three weeks rank one), Manhattan ( July 15, 1925, four weeks) and Blue Skies ( January 15, 1927, two weeks). It was only on February 3, 1930, a new top hit is with Happy Days Are Here Again added that lingers for two weeks on the first hit parade square, followed by When It's Springtime in the Rockies (15 May 1930), the three weeks on the top spot can hold. Already by November 1927 had Selvins orchestra, partly under different names, included more than 3,000 titles for the various record labels. Columbia published nor plates with Selvin until August 1934, but could not place a top hit with the orchestra more.

His orchestra was subject to a high staff turnover. In 1929 it consisted of Manny Klein and Leo McConville (trumpet ), Tommy Dorsey (trombone), Larry Abbott and Louis Martin ( clarinet or alto saxophone), Joe Dubin (tenor saxophone), Larry Murphy or Rube Bloom ( piano ), John Cali ( Banjo), Hank Stern (tuba) and Stan King ( drums). Jack Teagarden (trombone) and Jimmy Dorsey played from 1930, even later jazz greats as Benny Goodman ( 1931), Red Nichols and Bunny Berigan played alternately in Selvins orchestra.

End of the recording career

Since 1927, Selvin worked as A & R Director for Columbia Records until 1934, his main job as a conductor and arranger. In 1935, he headed the first broadcasts of music Muzak, where he will remain for ten years. In June 1945, he replaced as A & R co-head of the newly founded Majestic Records, only to reappear as an A & R director at Columbia Records in September 1945. Here he oversaw recording sessions by Frank Sinatra and Doris Day. When music publisher Southern Music he works in March 1951 as General Manager Professional and remained until January 1952 he switched to as A & R boss to RCA. In October 1955 he is program director and will remain there until his retirement in 1963. March 14, 1963, he gets to his adoption of a subsequent RCA gold record for Dardanella because it did not exist this award in the year of success. The diversifying into the music industry 3M Company still brings in 1963 Selvin as music consultant, as the Billboard magazine writes. After his consulting work for the 3M Company, he died at the age of 82 from a heart attack.


It is estimated that Selvin has recorded a total of over 9,000 titles, the Guinness Book of Records even goes 13000-20000 songs. The quantification is difficult because he has received at least nine record companies and used in this case at least 39 artists name. These included beside his main name Ben Selvin and His Orchestra also Selvin 's Dance Orchestra, Selvin 's Novelty Orchestra, Ariel Dance Orchestra, Frank Auburn and His Orchestra, Bar Harbor Society Orchestra, The Broadway NiteLites, Broadway Syncopators, The Knickerbockers and Buddy Campbell and His Orchestra Harmony Records.