Tin Pan Alley tunesmith wrote top ragtime hits at turn of 20th century
His "Sail Along Silv'ry Moon" a true American classic
Percy Wenrich was born in Joplin, Missouri on January 23, 1887. His mother taught him the organ and piano as a young boy and at the age of 21, Wenrich enrolled in the Chicago Music College. His first published songs were while still in college, “Ashy Africa” and “Just Because I’m From Missouri”. After graduation, Wenrich worked in a Milwaukee store as a music demonstrator and staff writer for music publishing companies and then moved to New York where he wrote songs on Tin Pan Alley.
With his wife, Dolly Connolly, Wenrich routed in vaudeville for over 15 years, writing songs and collaborating with talented composers and lyricists throughout the country. He often worked with Harry Tobias as well as Alfred Bryan, Joe McCarthy, Stanley Murphy, Edward Madden, Jack Mahoney, Howard Johnson and Ray Peck.
In addition to the songs Wenrich wrote for his vaudeville act, he also produced three successful Broadway scores: Crinoline Girl, The Right Girl and Castles in the Air. He was also a charter member of the performing rights society ASCAP.
Highlights from the Wenrich catalog include “Put on Your Old Gray Bonnet”, “Silver Bell”, “She Took Mother’s Advice”, “Red Rose Rag”, “When You Wore a Tulip I Wore a Big Red Rose”, “Sweet Cider Time When You Were Mine”, “Where Do We Go From Here, Boys?”, “A Rainbow from the USA”, “Land of Romance” and “Lantern of Love”. He also produced two of the greatest and most enduring ballads of his era, “Moonlight Bay” and “Sail Along, Silv’ry Moon.”
Percy Wenrich died on March 17, 1952 in New York City.