Wrote "Are You Lonesome Tonight" in 1926
Vaudeville pianist for touring shows
Composer Lou Handman was born in New York City on September 10, 1894.
In his early career, Handman toured in vaudeville shows, mostly throughout Australia and New York. He served in the US Army during World War I and on returning from the War, he resumed his talented career as a pianist and accompanist to vaudeville singers.
Handman collaborated with several of the greatest Tin Pan Alley lyricists. With Roy Turk, Handman produced the timeless song “Are You Lonesome Tonight”. Published in the mid-1920’s, and still a chart topping song in 2002, Are You Lonesome Tonight was originally a #4 hit in 1927 for recording artist Vaughn Deleath. The same year, it was recorded by Henry Burr and made the Billboard top ten. In 1950, Blue Barron recorded it and reached # 19 on the pop charts and in 1959, Jaye P. Morgan broke through with a recording. The most well-known recording, however, was that of Elvis Presley in 1960. The recording reached #1 and remained in that position for 6 weeks. In 1974, Donnie Osmond recreated it and topped out in the top 20. The flexibility of the composition and adaptability of the lyrics are what appeal to so many singers. “Are You Lonesome Tonight” is often credited as the definition of a Tin Pan Alley standard.
Handman and Turk also collaborated on other songs including “It’s All the Same to Me”, “My Sweetie Went Away”, “One Night of Love”, “Two Ton Tessie”, “You’ve Got Those Wanna Go Back Again Blues”, “I’m Gonna Charleston Back to Charleston” and “Me and the Moon”.
Handman also worked with lyricists Archie Gottler and Harry Harris. Other hits from his catalog include “Give Me a Smile and a Kiss”, “I Can’t Get the One I Want”, “What Good Would it Do?”, “Is My Baby Blue Tonight?”, “No Nothing”, “Me and the Moon”, “Was it Rain?”, “Don’t Ever Change”, “Baby Me”, “Puddin’ Head Jones”, “Blue”. Most recently, "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" (written with Roy Turk) was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2007.
Lou Handman died in Flushing New York on December 9, 1956.