• U.S.

Music: Revival: Jan. 15, 1940

2 minute read

In 1917, when ragtime was still the thing, a natty Chicago tunesmith named Abe Olman wrote a dumpy, foursquare little ragtime tune called Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh! Within a few months it rolled up a sale of nearly 1,500,000 copies. Then, as it must to all tunes, oblivion came to Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh!

Last winter Chicago Dance-Band Leader Orrin Tucker, rummaging through a stack of old sheet music, found a copy of Oh

Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh!, gave it to his vocalist, little Bonnie Baker, to sing. Five months ago, with Band Leader Tucker’s band, Vocalist Baker recorded it. So melting and cajoling were diminutive Bonnie’s “Oh !s” (Chicago jitterbugs quickly changed the text to “Oh Bonnie, Oh!”) that her record was soon jerking juke-box nickels faster than the fading Beer Barrel Polka (TIME, Sept. 11). Last week, with 350,000 sheet-music copies and some 350,000 records sold to date, the revived Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh! was nudging South of the Border for first place on the best-seller list. Meanwhile Band Leader Tucker and Bonnie moved into big time on the Lucky Strike Your Hit Parade, and Tunesmith Olman was taking in more royalties than Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh! had earned in its first incarnation.

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