John Frederick Coots

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John Frederick Coots
Birth name John Frederick Coots
Also known as J. Frederick Coots
Born (1897-05-02)May 2, 1897
Origin Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.
Died April 8, 1985(1985-04-08) (aged 87)
New York City, U.S.A.
Genres Tin Pan Alley
Occupation(s) Composer
Instruments Piano
Associated acts Haven Gillespie

John Frederick Coots (May 2, 1897 – April 8, 1985) was a prolific American songwriter.[1] He composed over 700 popular songs and over a dozen Broadway shows. In 1934 Coots wrote the melody with his then chief collaborator, lyricist Haven Gillespie, for the biggest hit for them both "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town."[2][3][4][5] The song became one of the biggest sellers in American history.[6]

In 1934 when Gillespie brought him the lyrics to "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town", Coots came up with the skeleton of the music in just ten minutes. Coots took the song to his publisher, Leo Feist Inc., who liked it but thought it was "a kids' song" and didn't expect too much from it.[7] Coots offered the song to Eddie Cantor who used it on his radio show that November and it became an instant hit. The morning after the radio show there were orders for 100,000 copies of sheet music and by Christmas sales had passed 400,000.

Career timeline[edit]

1897 May 2 – born in Brooklyn, New York[A]
1914 (age 17) – began work with Farmers' Loan & Trust Co. in New York[8]
1916 (age 20) – first hit song published, "Mr. Ford You've Got the Right Idea," words by Ray Sherwood, music by Coots; A. J. Stasny Music Co., publisher OCLC 726927577[8]
1919 (age 22) – Actor-producer Eddie Dowling gave Coots his first chance at writing a musical score for Friars' Frolics
1922 (age 25) – Dowling commissioned Coots to write the songs for Sally, Irene and Mary, a show which ran for two years on Broadway
1928 (age 31) – wrote "Doin' the Raccoon"
1929 (age 32) – moved to Hollywood, California
1931 (age 34) – wrote "Love Letters in the Sand"
1934 (age 37) – wrote the songs "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" (over 4 million copies of sheet music sold) and "For All We Know"
1940 (age 43) – wrote "The Rangers' Victory Song";[i] OCLC 812404397
1985 (age 89) April 8 – died in New York City

Selected songs[edit]

Leo Feist, Inc., publisher (1934); OCLC 21070165 and 11064929
© September 27, 1934, Class E unpublished 93634, Leo Feist, Inc., New York[ii]
© October 23, 1934, Class E published 44456, October 25, 1934, Leo Feist, Inc.[iii]
© Renewal September 27, 1961, R28248025, Haven Gillespie and J. Fred Coots
© Renewal October 25, 1961, R283907, Haven Gillespie and J. Fred Coots[a]
Remick Music (1938); OCLC 44053966 and 858643370
Mills Music (1935); OCLC 27211518
© April 5, 1935, Class E 47450, Mills Music, Inc., New York[iv]
Leo Feist, Inc. (1934); OCLC 21070175 and 40509506
© March 14, 1934, Class E unpublished 84751, Leo Feist, Inc., New York[v]
  • "I Still Get a Thrill (Thinking of You)," words by Benny Davis, music by Coots
Davis, Coots & Engel[B] (1930); OCLC 13168438

Selected musicals[edit]

  • Sally, Irene and Mary, music by Coots, words by Raymond W. Klages (1888–1947), March 23, 1925 – April 4, 1925 & September 4, 1922 – June 2, 1923 OCLC 498812201 and 498526150
  1. "Kid Days" OCLC [1]
  2. "Time Will Tell" OCLC 39975531 and 224102588
  3. "Pals"
  4. "Stage Door Johnnies"
  5. "I Wonder Why" OCLC 20597875
  6. "Do You Remember?"
  7. "How I've Missed You Mary" OCLC 891128783
  8. "Right Boy Comes Along"
  9. "Our Home Sweet Home"
  10. "Peacock Alley"
  11. "Something in Here"
  12. "Opportunity"
  13. "We Are Waiting"
  14. "Clouds Roll By" OCLC 498831287
  15. "Until You Say Yes"
  16. "Wedding Time"
  17. "Old Fashioned Gown" OCLC 755811220 and 498526150
  18. "When a Regular Boy Loves a Regular Girl" OCLC 755811215 and 497282681
  19. "Up on Fifth Avenue Near Central Park"
  20. "Jimmy" OCLC 497894150
  • Sons O' Guns, music by Coots, November 26, 1929 – August 9, 1930
  • Broadway Nights, featuring songs by Coots, July 15, 1929 – August 17, 1929
  • George White's Scandals, musical review, featuring songs by Coots, July 2, 1928 – January 19, 1929
  • White Lights, music by Coots, October 11, 1927 – November 5, 1927
  • Gay Paree, musical review, music and lyrics by Coots, November 9, 1926 – April 9, 1927 & August 18, 1925 – January 30, 1926
  • A Night in Paris, musical review, music by Coots, July 26, 1926 – October 30, 1926 & January 5, 1926 – July 10, 1926
  • The Merry World, musical review, music by Coots, June 8, 1926 – August 21, 1926
  • Mayflowers, music by Coots, November 24, 1925 – January 30, 1926
  • June Days, musical, music by Coots, August 6, 1925 – October 17, 1925
  • Artists and Models, musical review, music by Coots, June 24, 1925 – May 7, 1926
  • Artists and Models, musical review, music by Coots, October 15, 1924 – May 23, 1925
  • Innocent Eyes, musical review, additional music by Coots, May 20, 1924 – August 30, 1924
  • Dew Drop Inn, musical comedy, featuring songs by Coots, May 17, 1923 – August 25, 1923
  • Spice of 1922, musical review, music by Coots, July 6, 1922 – September 9, 1922

External links[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ Most biographies state that Coots was born in Brooklyn. But an April 6, 1930, New York Times article, "In the Spotlight's Glare," states that he was born in Keene, New Hampshire.
  2. ^ Harry Engel (1894 Vienna, Austria – 1965 Los Angeles) had been a sheet music traveling salesman for Richmond-Robbins, Inc. — Maurice Aaron Richmond (1878–1965) and nephew, John J. (Jack) Robbins (1894–1959) — then Robbins-Engel, Inc., the Irving Berlin; then after his affiliation with Davis, Coots & Engel, Inc., he went on to become head of West Coast Operations for BMI
Original copyrights
Catalog of Copyright Entries, Part 3 Musical Compositions, New Series, Library of Congress, Copyright Office
Copyright renewals
Catalog of Copyright Entries, Part 3, Musical Compositions, Third Series, Library of Congress, Copyright Office
  1. ^ Vol.  15, Part 5, No. 2, July–December 1961, pg. 246, pg. 1706
Inline citations
  1. ^ "In the Spotlight's Glare," New York Times, April 6, 1930
  2. ^ The Annual Obituary, Margot Levy (ed.), St. James Press (1985); OCLC 153294307
  3. ^ Biography Index, H.W. Wilson Co.; ISSN 0006-3053
         Vol. 14: Sep. 1984 – Aug. 1986 (1986); OCLC 30457106
         Vol. 15: Sep. 1986 – Aug. 1988 (1988); OCLC 30326307
         Vol. 16: Sep. 1988 – Aug. 1990 (1990); OCLC 30326352
  4. ^ Songwriters: A Biographical Dictionary with Discographies, by Nigel Harrison, Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co. (1998); OCLC 38964064
  5. ^ The New York Times Biographical Service, Vol. 16, Nos. 1–12, Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International (1985); ISSN 0161-2433
  6. ^ Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories, 1890–1954, Record Research (1986); OCLC 15252908
  7. ^ "The Story of the song 'Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,'" The Kiwanis Magazine December 1956; ISSN 0023-1975 (excerpt)
  8. ^ a b "Honor Roll of Hits," Billboard, March 18, 1950