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Ben Selvin

Benjamin Bernard Selvin (March 5, 1898 – July 15, 1980) was an American musician, bandleader, and record producer. He was known as the Dean of Recorded Music.

Selvin was the son of Jewish Russian immigrants. He started his professional life at age 15 as a fiddle player in New York City night clubs. Six years later, as leader of his own dance band, the Novelty Orchestra, he released what was later alleged to be the biggest-selling popular song in the first quarter-century of recorded music. "Dardanella" allegedly sold more than six million copies and an additional million pieces of sheet music—although in a joint interview with Gustave Haenschen, founding director of popular-music releases at Brunswick Records, Selvin described the alleged record-sales total as “nonsensical” and said the actual sales of “Dardanella” and other purported “million-sellers” in the 1920s was 150,000 discs. He was awarded a gold disc by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) that was presented to Selvin on his retirement on March 14, 1963.

According to The Guinness Book of World Records, Selvin recorded more musical sides (on 78-rpm discs) than any other person. One reason for this prolific output is that he recorded for dozens of different record labels during this productive time in the industry, using a different name for each label. His output has been estimated at 13,000 to 20,000 song titles.

Birth and Death Data: Born March 5th, 1898 (New York City), Died Manhasset

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1919 - 1942

Roles Represented in DAHR: leader, violin, vocalist, songwriter, arranger, composer

Recordings (Results 1-25 of 991 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor B-22964 10-in. 7/18/1919 Mandy Selvin's Novelty Orchestra Jazz/dance band leader  
Victor B-22965 10-in. 7/18/1919 Novelty one-step Selvin's Novelty Orchestra Jazz/dance band arranger, leader  
Victor B-22966 10-in. 7/18/1919 I'm forever blowing bubbles Selvin's Novelty Orchestra Jazz/dance band leader  
Victor B-23344 10-in. 11/20/1919 Dardanella Selvin's Novelty Orchestra Jazz/dance band leader  
Victor B-23345 10-in. 11/20/1919 In your arms Selvin's Novelty Orchestra Jazz/dance band leader  
Victor B-23346 10-in. 11/20/1919 My isle of golden dreams Selvin's Novelty Orchestra Jazz/dance band leader  
Victor B-24053 10-in. 5/13/1920 Kamel-land Selvin's Novelty Orchestra Jazz/dance band leader  
Victor B-24054 10-in. 5/13/1920 Wond'ring Selvin's Novelty Orchestra Jazz/dance band leader  
Victor B-24055 10-in. 5/13/1920 Dance-o-mania Selvin's Novelty Orchestra Jazz/dance band leader  
Victor BSHQ-71966 10-in. 3/17/1932 Under the old umbrella Grant Trio Male vocal trio, with instrumental ensemble songwriter  
Victor BS-073432 10-in. 3/13/1942 The mem'ry of this dance Hal McIntyre Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo songwriter  
Columbia 81970 10-in. 9/2/1924 Kiss me goodnight The Cavaliers Jazz/dance band leader  
Columbia 81971 10-in. 9/2/1924 Rock a bye my baby blues The Cavaliers Jazz/dance band leader  
Columbia 140081 10-in. 10/3/1924 I'm some-one who's no-one to you The Cavaliers Jazz/dance band leader  
Columbia 140082 10-in. 10/3/1924 Honest and truly The Cavaliers Jazz/dance band leader  
Columbia 140111 10-in. 10/22/1924 All alone The Cavaliers Jazz/dance band leader  
Columbia 140112 10-in. 10/22/1924 I wonder what's become of Sally? The Cavaliers Jazz/dance band leader  
Columbia 140124 10-in. 11/3/1924 Haunting melody The Cavaliers Jazz/dance band leader  
Columbia 140208 10-in. 12/24/1924 That soothing melody The Cavaliers Jazz/dance band leader  
Columbia 140209 10-in. 12/24/1924 Lover's waltz The Cavaliers Jazz/dance band leader  
Columbia 140339 10-in. 2/11/1925 Titina Franklyn Baur ; The Knickerbockers Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo leader  
Columbia 140340 10-in. 2/11/1925 Me neenyah Franklyn Baur ; The Knickerbockers Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo leader  
Columbia 140402 10-in. 2/27/1925 June brought the roses The Cavaliers Jazz/dance band leader  
Columbia 140403 10-in. 2/27/1925 The midnight waltz The Cavaliers Jazz/dance band leader  
Columbia W140513 10-in. 4/10/1925 All aboard for heaven The Knickerbockers Jazz/dance band leader  
(Results 1-25 of 991 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Selvin, Ben," accessed October 29, 2020, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/111064.

Selvin, Ben. (2020). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved October 29, 2020, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/111064.

"Selvin, Ben." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2020. Web. 29 October 2020.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/111064

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