Arnold Shaw (author)

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Arnold Shaw (1909–1989) was a songwriter and music business executive, primarily in the field of music publishing, who is best known for his comprehensive series of books on 20th century American popular music.

Shaw entered the field of popular music during the 1940s, as a pianist and composer. He did not make a major mark in this field: his best-known compositions include Mobiles and The Mod Moppet: Seven Nursery Rip-offs, and “Sing a Song of Americans,” for which Rosemary Benet and Steven Vincent Benet wrote the lyrics. In 1945, he entered the business end of the popular music scene, as director of publicity and advertising for Leeds Music Corporation (later to become MCA Music). He went on from there to the Edward B. Marks Music Corporation, also a music publishing company, where he spent most of his business career. During the 1950s and 1960s, he also handled public relations and advertising for a number of individual performers, including Elvis Presley, Burt Bacharach and Paul Simon.

His first book on music, Gene Krupa First Authentic Life Story of America's Ace Drummer Man, came out in 1945, and he published a biography of Harry Belafonte in 1960. His significant career as a writer, however, came in the 1970s and 1980s, beginning with the 1969 publication of The Rock Revolution: What's Happening to Today's Music.

His books included histories of popular music in the 1920s, 1930s, 1950s and 1960s, books on jazz, and books on African-American music. Honkers And Shouters. The Golden Years Of Rhythm And Blues is considered the definitive text on that musical form.

In 1985, Shaw founded the Popular Music Research Center at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, which today contains approximately 20,000 records, over 1000 manuscript scores, over 300 taped interviews of popular music artists, and miscellaneous memorabilia. Upon his death in 1989, the research center was renamed the Arnold Shaw Popular Music Research Center in his honor.



  • Gene Krupa First Authentic Life Story of America's Ace Drummer Man, Pin-Up Press. 1945
  • Lingo of Tin Pan Alley, Broadcast Music, 1950
  • Belafonte: An Unauthorized Biography, Chilton, 1960
  • The Rock Revolution: What's Happening to Today's Music, Crowell-Collier Press, New York, 1969
  • The world of soul: Black America's contribution to the pop music scene, Cowles Book Co., 1970
  • The Street That Never Slept. Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, Inc., 1971; reissued as 52nd Street: The Street of Jazz, Da Capo Press, New York, 1977
  • Frank Sinatra. Retreat of the Romantic, Coronet Books, 1974
  • The Rockin' 50s. The Decade That Transformed The Pop Music Scene, Hawthorn Books, New York, 1974.
  • Honkers And Shouters. The Golden Years Of Rhythm And Blues. Crowell-Collier Press, New York, 1978
  • Dictionary of American Pop-Rock Music. Sales Corp, 1982 and Schirmer Books, 1983
  • Sinatra: The Entertainer, Delilah Books, 1984
  • Black Popular Music In America. From The Spirituals, Minstrels And Ragtime To Soul, Disco And Hip-Hop, Schirmer Books. 1986.
  • The Jazz Age: Popular Music in the 1920s, Oxford University Press, New York, 1987