- Johnny Burke (lyricist)
Johnny Burke (
3 October 1908— 25 February 1964) was a lyricist, widely regarded as one of the finest writers of popular songs in America between the 1920s and 1950s.
He was born in
Antioch, California. When still young, the family moved to Chicago, where Johnny's father founded a construction business. As a youth, he studied the piano and some drama also. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he played piano in the orchestra. After graduating, he joined the Chicago office of the Irving BerlinPublishing Company in 1926, as a pianist and song salesman.
Irving Berlin, Inc. transferred Johnny to its
New York Cityoffice, where he began to write lyrics in collaboration with composer Harold Spina. In 1932, they wrote "Shadows On The Swanee", followed in 1933 by "Annie Doesn't Live Here Anymore", their first big hit, for the Guy LombardoOrchestra. In 1934, they wrote "You're Not The Only Oyster In The Stew" which was a novelty hit for Fats Waller, as was "My Very Good Friend, the Milkman". They wrote many songs that were played by leading bands of the day, including those led by Ben Pollack, Paul Whitemanand Ozzie Nelson.
1936 saw the end of the Burke - Spina partnership, as Burke left for Hollywood. His first partner there was Arthur Johnston. He then worked with Jimmy Monaco, but he was to make his mark in collaboration with Jimmy van Heusen.
The team of Burke and Van Heusen turned out some of the great hit tunes of the late 1930s and throughout the 1940s. Burke was the only major composer to spend his entire career with just one studio,
Paramount Pictures. His primary function as a lyricist was working on Bing Crosbyfilms. Of the 41 films on which Johnny worked, 25 starred Bing Crosby. Seventeen songs were substantial hits, including "Pennies From Heaven", "I've Got a Pocketful of Dreams", "Only Forever", "Moonlight Becomes You" and "Sunday, Monday and Always"." Swinging on a Star", from the Bing Crosby film " Going My Way", won an Academy Award for Best Songin 1944, one of seven Academy Awardswon by the film.
Among the landmarks of Burke's songwriting career were:
* with Harold Spina:
** "Annie Doesn't Live Here Anymore"
** "You're Not The Only Oyster In The Stew"
** "My Very Good Friend The Milman"
** "Shadows On The Swanee"
** "The Beat of My Heart"
** "Now You've Got Me Doing It"
** "I've Got A Warm Spot In My Heart For You"
*with Arthur Johnston:
** "Pennies from Heaven"
** "One Two, Button Your Shoe"
** "Double or Nothing"
** "The Moon Got In My Eyes"
** "All You Want To Do Is Dance"
*with Jimmy Monaco:
** "I've Got a Pocketful of Dreams"
** "Don't Let That Moon Get Away"
** "An Apple For The Teacher"
** "On the Sentimental Side"
** "My Heart is Taking Lessons"
** "That Sly Old Gentleman from Featherbed Lane"
** "Sing a Song Of Moonbeams"
** "East Side of Heaven"
*with Jimmy van Heusen:
** "Only Forever"
** "Too Romantic"
** "Sweet Potato Piper"
** "Polka Dots and Moonbeams"
** "Moonlight Becomes You"
Sunday, Monday, or Always"
** "Going My Way"
Swinging on a Star"
** "It Could Happen to You"
** "And His Rockin' Horse Ran Away"
** "The First One Hundred Years"
** "But Beautiful"
** "Appalachicola, Fla"
** "Here's That Rainy Day" (from the Broadway musical "
Carnival in Flanders")
** "It's An Old Spanish Custom" (from "Carnival In Flanders")
** "Oh, You Crazy Moon"
** "To See You Is to Love You"
** "Suddenly It's Spring"
Like Someone in Love"
In the 1950s, Burke wrote the lyrics for "Scatterbrain", with music by Frankie Masters and "Keene-Bean" and "
What's New?" with Bob Haggart(1914-1998). In 1955, Burke added lyrics to a tune by "cool" jazz pianist Erroll Garnerentitled "Misty".
The 1956 film, "
The Vagabond King" was Burke's last Hollywood work. Eight years later, he died at age 55.
Johnny Burke was inducted into the
Songwriters Hall of Famein 1970.
*imdb name|id=0121741|name=Johnny Burke
* [http://www.ascap.com/ace/search.cfm?requesttimeout=300&mode=results&searchstr=2552400&search_in=c&search_type=exact&search_det=t,s,w,p,b,v&results_pp=20&start=1 Johnny Burke's entry at ASCAP]
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