Welcome Aboard Joe

edit oar

Over the past 8 months, you’ve read about my navigation through the early waters of Muzak.  The boat we’ve been riding is powered by an ocean of folks who have researched, dug into and discovered treasures from our history on a daily basis.

The stories have not only come from the 40 pallets of archives we’ve been searching through the last 3 years, but from hoards of other sources.  Muzak franchisees, some of whom have over 7 decades of Muzak experiences, have shared stories and artifacts with our archive team.  A history professor and author from Chicago, Chris Stacy, has been a tremendous resource as have David and Emily Selvin, grandchildren of Muzak’s legendary producer, Ben Selvin.  There have been fact finding missions with ex-Muzak executives, including Chuck Walker, Rod Baum, Bruce Funkhouser and past CEOs Bill Boyd and 92-year-old Bing Muscio.  Several books have been written about Muzak and the internet has led us to many unexpected finds. Our Muzak Archive team of Roberta Keener, Jan Turner, Jagger Gestson, Bryant Hill, Lou Mondelli, Rick Nash, Tabatha Mullennix, Kira Bloomingdale and Jerri Firth, along with our archive curator, JK Dameron, has been relentless at uncovering and archiving historic gems.

But, getting first hand information from someone who actually experienced those early Muzak days in the ‘30s and ‘40s is a rare find indeed.  Sure, Bing Muscio and Bill Boyd shared wonderful Muzak information from the ‘60s and ‘70s, but no earlier than that … not firsthand anyways.

Then, last week a gentlemen who said he was in his “geezer-hood,” sent a message to our blog that warmed my heart and compelled me to contact him directly. Two calls and a dozen emails later, I realized that we had struck gold.  His name is Joe Adams.  He is 85-years-old and became a huge fan of Muzak in the ‘30s and ‘40s while in his teens.  The radio station he listened to played Muzak recordings.  As with most teens today, music became a huge part of Joe’s life.  He knew every song, every singer, every story … everything.  He boasted that the music, artists and quality was better on his favorite station, KE2XCC, than any other station in his Alpine, NJ area.  His station played Muzak’s Associated transcription recordings exclusively.  He knew all the artists, what their pseudonyms were, where they performed live, and what they ate for breakfast (almost).  For most of us, the passions of our childhood days fade.  But not for Joe.  He followed his passion for music throughout his life:  into military service, fatherhood, his journalism career, and into his “geezer-hood.”

As Joe and I chatted at length about Muzak’s master library, he told me stories about almost every artist.  He became my own personal wiki.   We were both like kids in a candy store.

So, as I continue to write about our journey through the waters of Muzak history, Joe will, from time to time, grab one of the oars.  Welcome aboard Joe!

Contributed by Bruce McKagan, Muzak Archives Director

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Tagged as: 1940s music, 30s music, 40s music, Archives, Bruce McKagan, Joe Adams, Muzak Archives, Old Music, radio

3 Comments

  1. Thank you for the compliment. I’ll just say I love the stuff. On my wish list of material I presume is in the achives that I’d love to hear are the results of two sessions in the late 40s-early 50s consisting of lush, soothing strings playing selections from what today is called the Great American Songbook. One was led by a guy called Dave Dennis whose real name was Dave Herman. After he died, the New York Times published a brief obituary in which the paper lister his Muzak session prominently.

    The other wonderful strings sound was by a group calling itself “The Silver String Serenaders” I think the leader was Irving Szathmary, who had recorded for Muzak earlier. He was the brother of comedian Bill Dana, who I think is still with us. He later achieved more prominence as composer of the theme and orchestra leader for “Get Smart” He was also the writer of a song of medium popularity “Leave It to Love”

    He defected for a while to be a director for a competitor. Lang-Worth, a good company but no Muzak.

  2. Joe: You are a fountain of information… non-stop. I love it. How you remember all of this valuable music trivia is beyond me. Our emails and conversations have been priceless to me. Keep it coming!! Bruce

  3. Dave Dennis and his String Orchestra recording such greats for Muzak as “Dancing in the Dark”, “Look for the Silver Lining”etc etc. Dave Dennis recorded these for us back in Dec of ‘45 as well as “You’re My Everything”, “Over the Rainbow”, “Love Walked In” and “My Romance” in early 1946 to name but a few. Sure Joe we have those sessions and dozens more from Mr Dennis throughout the rest of the forties. We’ve even got some of his sessions on tape from later years.

    Silver Strings Serenaders? Yep we got’m – looks like at least fifty tracks by them spanning the ’50’s and into the ’60’s

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