Top film singwriter of 1920s ansd 30s

Browse Song Catalog: ASCAP

Ray Henderson


Dozens of enduring American songbook standards

Composer Ray Henderson was born in Buffalo, New York on December 1, 1896. Studying piano and composition at the Chicago Conservatory, Henderson cultivated a melodic style that would help songs such as “Life is a Bowl of Cherries”, “Bye, Bye Blackbird”, “Five Foot Two and Eyes of Blue” and “You’re the Cream in My Coffee” become timeless hit standards.

After the Conservatory, Henderson moved to New York where he began doing song arrangements, mostly for vaudeville acts, for publishing companies on Tin Pan Alley. In 1922, Henderson was introduced to a young lyricist, Lew Brown, and in 1925 the pair teamed with lyricist Buddy De Sylva creating the most successful songwriting-publishing trio from the mid 1920’s until 1930.

The new threesome would create several memorable hits from the era, including “It All Depends on You”, “Broken Hearted”, “Just a Memory”, “Together”, “Good News”, “Just Imagine”, “Varsity Drag”, “Lucky in Love”, “Don’t Hold Everything”, “Button Up Your Overcoat”, “You Are My Lucky Star”, “I Want to be Bad”, “Without Love”, “Wasn’t it Beautiful While it Lasted”, “I’m a Dreamer, Aren’t We All” and “If I Had a Talking Picture of You”.

In 1929, De Sylva, Brown and Henderson sold the publishing firm they had founded in 1925 and moved to Hollywood under contract with Fox studios. Their first film was The Singing Fool, starring Al Jolson, and included the trios hit songs "Sonny Boy" and "It All Depends On You". Say It With Songs, another Jolson film released in 1930, included the songs “Little Pal” and “Sunny Side Up”. Just Imagine, a film version of Follow Thru based on their Broadway hit, was also released in 1930.

In 1931, De Sylva left the team to work with other composers, and Brown and Henderson continued working together producing “Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries", “This is the Missus”, “The Thrill is Gone”, “My Song” and several others.

Throughout his career, Henderson contributed to several Broadway shows, including Manhattan Mary, George White’s Scandals (1925, 1926, 1928, 1931, 1934, 1936), Good News, Hold Everything, Three Cheers, Follow Through, Flying High, Hot - Cha, Strike Me Pink, Ziegfeld Follies of 1943 and Say When.

Other than Brown and De Sylva, Henderson worked with lyricists Mort Dixon, Sam Lewis, Joe Young, Billy Rose, Ted Koehler, Jack Yellen and Irving Caesar. Other catalog highlights include “That Old Gang of Mine”, “Alabamy Bound”, “Don’t Bring Lulu”, “I’m Sitting on Top of the World”, “Too Many Parties and Too Many Pals, Lucky Day”, “Birth of the Blues”, “Black Bottom”, “So Blue”, “I’m on the Crest of a Wave”, “You Wouldn’t Fool Me, Would You?”, “My Sin”, “Little Pal”, “Without Love”, “Thank Your Father”, “Red Hot Chicago”, “You Try Somebody Else”, “Strike Me Pink”, “Say When”, “When Love Comes Swinging Along”, “Oh, You Nasty Man”, “My Dog Loves Your Dog”, “Why Did I Kiss that Girl?”, “If I Had a Girl Like You”, “Bam Bam Bamy Shore”, “Animal Crackers in My Soup”, “When I Grow Up”, “Life Begins at Sweet Sixteen” and “Love Songs are Made in the Night”.

Ray Henderson died on December 31, 1970 in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Wrote" Bye Bye Blackbird" "Sittin' On Top Of The World" and "Birth of the Blues"

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