Buddy Morris, born Edwin H. Morris in Pittsburgh in 1906, began his music publishing career in the far-away haunts of Hollywood, when, at age 21, he was assigned the task of forming a music publishing division of Warner Bros.Pictures. On behalf of Warner Bros., he acquired a series of individual publishing catalogs, including M. Witmark Music, Jerome Remick Music and T.B. Harms, the latter being the theatrical company that published many of the earlier Rodgers and Hart show scores.
Serving more than a dozen years with Warner Bros., Morris left the company to start his own firm in 1941. At that time, he began assembling a group of songwriters, all of them either already major contributors or definitely on their way to the top. The names included Ira Gershwin, Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne,
Jimmy Van Heusen, Jack Lawrence, Harold Spina, Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer, the man who would one day serve as the founding president of The Songwriters’ Hall of Fame.
The songs these writers turned out for Edwin H. Morris Music added up to a veritable hit parade of the era. They included “Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive,” “Autumn Leaves,” “Tenderly,” “Sentimental Journey,” “It’s Been a Long, Long Time,” “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” “The Christmas Song,” “The Man That Got Away,” “Witchcraft,” “Route 66” and “One for My Baby (And One More for the Road).”
In 1930, Morris became the youngest ever member of the ASCAP Board of Directors, a post in which he remained active for more than 30 years. On many occasions during the ‘50s and ‘60s, he appeared on behalf of ASCAP, and the songwriting fraternity in general, before Congressional hearings and other forums, fighting at all times for the rights of the songwriting and music publishing communities.
The Morris firm continued to grow, and eventually, as the global market for popular music flourished, Edwin H. Morris & Company Ltd. was opened in England in association with Chappell Music Ltd. in London.
During the ‘60s and early ‘70s, the Morris organization became one of the premiere publishers of Broadway musical theater. These included, for example, Betty Comden and Adolph Green and Jule Styne with “Peter Pan;” Jerry Herman with “Milk and Honey,” “Hello Dolly,” “Mame,” “Dear World” and “Mack & Mabel;” Charles Strouse and Lee Adams with “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Golden Boy” and “Applause;” Harold Arlen and E.Y. (Yip) Harburg with “Jamaica” and Arlen and Truman Capote with “House of Flowers;” Carolyn Leigh and Cy Coleman with “Little Me” and “Wildcat;” Marvin Hamlisch and Ed Kleban with “A Chorus Line;” and “Grease” by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey.
The collection of show scores represents a truly stellar array of the very best Broadway has ever offered. Edwin H. Morris & Company was purchased in 1976 by Paul McCartney and is now a part of his MPL Communications Inc.