Another “Song-Plugger”

Around 1914, a teenager started out as a “song-plugger” at Jerome H. Remick & Co., stayed there for two years and then left in early 1917 to accept $35 a week to be the rehearsal pianist for a Jerome Kern and Victor Herbert show, called Miss 1917 (produced by Florenz Ziegfeld and Charles Dillingham, with a book by P.G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton).  The show never amounted to much; however, everyone was impressed with the rehearsal pianist, including Harry Askin, a friend of Max Dreyfus.

Askin wanted to introduce the pianist immediately to Dreyfus at T.B. Harms.  However, the young pianist had already accepted a tour with Marie Dressler, as her accompanist; but he promised Askin that, when he returned, he would make an appointment with Dreyfus.

When he returned from tour, he went to see Dreyfus, who was impressed with the young man’s earnestness, particularly when he tried to explain the kind of songs he wanted to write.  “He was the kind of man I like to gamble on,” Dreyfus said, “and I decided to gamble.”  Dreyfus laid out his terms—a drawing account of $35 a week, no set duties or hours; but a commitment to keep writing songs and submitting them to Dreyfus.

Thus, from 1918 on, Harms became the exclusive publisher of all of George Gershwin’s music.