In this Book

The Melody Man
summary

Joe Davis, the focus of The Melody Man enjoyed a 50-year career in the music industry, which covered nearly every aspect of the business. He hustled sheet music in the 1920s, copyrighted compositions by artists as diverse as Fats Waller, Carson Robison, Otis Blackwell, and Rudy Vallee, oversaw hundreds of recording session, and operated several record companies beginning in the 1940s. Davis also worked fearlessly to help insure that black recording artists and song writers gained equal treatment for their work.

Much more than a biography, this book is an investigation of the role played by music publishers during much of the twentieth century. Joe Davis was not a music "great" but he was one of those individuals who enabled "greats" to emerge. A musician, manager, and publisher, his long career reveals much about the nature of the music industry and offers insight into how the industry changed from the 1920s to the 1970s. By the summer of 1924, when Davis was handling the "Race talent" for Ajax records, he had already worked in the music business for most of a decade and there was more than five decades of musical career ahead of him. The fact that his fascinating life has gone so long under-appreciated is remedied by the publication of Never Sell A Copyright.

Originally published in England, in 1990, Never Sell a Copyright: Joe Davis and His Role in the New York Music Scene, 1916-1978 was never released in the United States and available in a very limited print run in England. The author, noted blues scholar and folklorist Bruce Bastin, has worked with fellow music scholar Kip Lornell to completely update, condense, and improve the book for this first-ever American edition.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Title Page, Copyright Page
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  1. Contents
  2. p. v
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  1. Preface to the New Edition
  2. pp. vii-ix
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  1. Preface
  2. pp. xi-xiv
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. xv-xvi
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  1. Prelude
  2. pp. xvii-xix
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  1. Chapter 1 “That’s Got ’Em”
  2. pp. 3-35
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  1. Chapter 2 The Melody Man
  2. pp. 36-54
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  1. Chapter 3 Fats Comes Aboard
  2. pp. 55-101
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  1. Chapter 4 How Joe Davis Did Business
  2. pp. 102-131
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  1. Chapter 5 The Gennett Connection
  2. pp. 132-155
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  1. Chapter 6 God Bless Our New President
  2. pp. 156-173
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  1. Chapter 7 Caribbean Music and Albums
  2. pp. 174-199
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  1. Chapter 8 Back to the Brill Building
  2. pp. 200-216
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  1. Chapter 9 The Deep River Boys
  2. pp. 217-232
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  1. Chapter 10 Jay-Dee Records and Otis Blackwell
  2. pp. 233-261
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  1. Chapter 11 Listen to Dr. Jive
  2. pp. 262-286
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  1. Chapter 12 I Learned a Lesson I’ll Never Forget
  2. pp. 287-304
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  1. Tune Title Index
  2. pp. 305-317
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  1. Name and Subject Index [Image Plates]
  2. pp. 318-332
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