[I have been trying to assemble a decent biography of Maceo Pinkard but there seems to be little to find. The following the best I've been able to come up with but some of you might have more info and might correct errors. Any help at all would be appreciated. Thanx.] With summer on the way, I thought it might be nice to remember the 115th birthday of a great American songwriter and composer—one of the best the world has ever produced. Maceo Pinkard was born June 27, 1897 in Bluefield, West Virginia. He was educated at the Bluefield Colored Institute from which he graduated at age 16. The following year, the enterprising young Pinkard founded his own orchestra and theatrical agency in Omaha and toured nearly nonstop. He had his first song published at 18 in 1915, "When He Sang That Baritone." In 1917, he founded Maceo Pinkard Music and sold his songs through Frank Root in Chicago and Leo Feist in New York before being hired by New York-based Shapiro, Bernstein & Co. in 1918. The following year, Pinkard found success with "Mammy O’ Mine" (erroneously assumed by some to be Al Jolson’s Mammy song, which it is definitely not). By 1940, he would publish over 200 songs, an untold number of which have been lost. Pinkard co-wrote with notables as Roy Turk, Ken Casey, Sydney Mitchell and Lois Reid. His most steadfast collaborator was William Tracey (1893-1957) with whom Pinkard teamed in 1919 and wrote his last known songs with in 1940. He often wrote under the alias of Alex Belledna which was likely a play on his wife's name, singer/songwriter Edna Alexander. In 1922, he wrote the music to a successful all-black musical called "Liza" with lyrics supplied by Nat Vincent (1889-1979 and who sometimes used the alias Jaan Kenbrovin). The show opened at Daly’s 63rd Street theatre in November and was so popular that it was moved after a few months to the Nora Bayes Theatre on 44th Street thereby becoming the first black musical to play on Broadway where it ran for 172 shows. Pinkard was very prolific. In 1919 alone, the year he moved to New York, Pinkard saw over 20 songs published. In only four years, Pinkard would publish over 50 songs. In 1923, Jimmy Johnson and Cecil Mack published their song "Charleston" which kicked off a dance craze of the same name. Not one to miss out on a good thing, Pinkard published "Sweet Man" with lyrics supplied by Roy Turk (in 1927, Roy Turk and Lou Handman would write "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" that made Elvis a bundle). Jelly Roll Morton liked "Sweet Man" so much that he cut a fabulous piano roll version of the song for the Capital Roll Company in December of 1925. Pinkard's next song, published that same year,would become one of the biggest jazz hits of all time and is still played today in every conceivable version, "Sweet Georgia Brown." There is scarcely a jazz band around that has not covered it—even the Beatles covered it. By this time, Pinkard had already published over 100 songs! Odd that by 1925, the KKK was 4 million strong nationwide and yet the two songs most characteristic of the 20s were Charleston and Sweet Georgia Brown both of which were written by black men (although Ken Casey, Pinkard’s collaborator, was white). That same year, 1925, Pinkard also published "Desdemona" a favorite among the more esoteric jazz fans. In 1926, Pinkard became one of the first black composers to join ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers). Paul Whiteman’s band, which included Bing Crosby, Hoagy Carmichael, Frankie Trumbauer (idolized by the great Lester Young), Harry Barris (who wrote "Mississippi Mud") and cornetist extraordinaire Bix Beiderbecke, hired Pinkard to write material for them. Unable to hire black musicians due to segregation, Whiteman did the next best thing which was to play the music of black composers and Pinkard was among them. In 1927, Pinkard’s "Sugar" was published and, in 1928, Whiteman’s band had turned the song into a huge hit. "Sugar" has been done by everyone from Billie Holiday to Fats Waller (who performed it on the pipe organ for Alberta Hunter). To this day, modern jazz artists still cover it. Bix went off on his own, he recorded Pinkard's "I’ll Be A Friend With Pleasure" in 1930 (featuring Gene Krupa on drums). This was typical white fare with slick orchestration and megaphoned Rudy Vallee-type vocals. Pinkard, however, also wrote music that was unashamedly black. He wrote two marvelous numbers for Cab Calloway—"Is That Religion?" (1930) and "Strictly Cullud Affair" (1932) (Calloway also covered "Sweet Georgia Brown" but then so did everybody else). "Is That Religion?" starts off with a call-and-response famous in African-American churches. The song, however, is anything but a gospel as it mutates into gritty jazz with a growling trumpet. In 1930, Pinkard also penned his immortal classic "Them There Eyes" (co-written with William Tracey and Doris Tauber) which has been covered by Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Sara Vaughn, Diana Ross, Chaka Khan, Stan Kenton and dozens of others. In the 30s, Pinkard’s output slowed somewhat as he was busy in New York founding his own publishing concern, Pinkard Publications. During this period, many Pinkard songs were lost with only some being recently recovered. Pinkard’s last known songs were "Harlem’s Poppin’" and "I’m Contented Like I Am" both released in 1940 and co-written with William Tracey. After that, Pinkard appears to have retired permanently from songwriting. He remained in New York and continued running his publishing empire. In 1955, "Sugar" received a new surge of popularity after being featured in an excellent movie called Pete Kelly’s Blues which starred Jack Webb as a young jazz trumpter. Webb also directed the movie (Jack Webb was a fanatic jazzophile who knew all the biggest jazz artists in the business and many of them recorded and slept at his house when they were touring through, and them’s the facts, ma’am). Maceo Pinkard died July 21, 1962 at the age of 65 in New York City. He was largely obscure, his characteristic raggy themes lushly cascading around a little diamond of a melody carefully and lovingly wrapped inside, a victim of public apathy unable to recognize genius when they heard it. He was, however, inducted into the songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984. There are no complete Pinkard collections that I know of. One must simply rummage around and pick them up piecemeal. "Sweet Man" can be heard on Artis Wodehouse’s "The Piano Rolls" on Nonesuch but a better version can be heard on the Biograph CD "Jelly Roll Morton—Blues and Stomps From Rare Piano Rolls" assembled by ragtime scholar, Mike Montgomery. The CD "Come And Trip It" also features a full 20s dance band version of "Sweet Man" by Dick Hyman and orchestra.