Inquiries into the early years of SJI

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Jack Shea recording from 1922 - Lovesick Blues mp3

Readers of I Went Down to St. James Infirmary know that the first song of his own that Irving Mills (aka Joe Primrose) published was "Lovesick Blues" in 1922. He shared the writing credit with Tin Pan Alley songster Cliff Friend. As you can see on the record label, though, only Cliff Friend's name is printed below the title. Was this a mistake? Or did Mills 'assume' partial ownership later that year?

Jack Shea's was probably the second recording of "Lovesick Blues" (after Elsie Clark's, earlier the same year). This song is much different from the one recorded by the yodelling blackface minstrel Emmett Miller in 1928. It was Miller's recording that inspired Hank Williams, whose version shot to the top of the charts in 1949.

To hear this song, click on: "Lovesick Blues" MP3.


rickdog said...

Rickdog searches for "i went down to st james infirmary"

Anonymous said...

Say, that's the prolific Irving Kaufman in a bluesy frame of mind as "Jack Shea."

Robert W. Harwood said...

Thank you, Anonymous. See the March 3rd, 2009 posting.

Page said...

I found this site searching out the history of "Lovesick Blues". Interesting note: on a site called
I found a quote from Chris Friend:
"I was a fighter pilot in the First World War at Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio. I was impressed by the lovesick boys who left their young wives and sweethearts for the service, blue. I had been writing songs since I was 12. So I wrote 'Lovesick Blues.' After the war I went to New York City. Cliff Edwards (Ukelele Ike) recorded the song on Perfect Records—a good job, but the song, ahead of its time, was a flop. took the song back from Jack Mills. Twenty years went by and fate stepped in in the guise of a stranger who met Hank Williams and sold him 'Lovesick Blues' as his song for $100. Fred Rose published it, but I had the copyright. When Williams' record hit the market, I flew to Nashville and took all the money, since I was also the publisher. Meanwhile, Frank Ifield in England had sold 4 million, and altogether, the song had sold 10 million." —Cliff Friend

I can find no indication that Cliff Edwards ever recorded Lovesick???

I also wondered if the man that sold the song to Williams might have been Rex Griffin who was by then an alcoholic and who recorded it in 1939.

Page Schorer aka Old_Cowboy

Robert W. Harwood said...

Thanks, Page! You will see that I have posted a query, thanks to your note: