Harry Baisden

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Harry Baisden
Birth name Cyrus Harry Baisden
Born (1893-04-18)April 18, 1893
Minnesota, United States
Died December 4, 1926(1926-12-04) (aged 33)
Genres Big band
Occupation(s) Bandleader, Musician, Arranger, Composer
Years active 1915–1924
Labels Nordskog Records
Associated acts Harry Baisden and His Orchestra

Harry Baisden (aka Harry Bastin, Cyrus Harry Baisden; 18 April 1893 Lester Prairie, Minnesota — 4 December 1926 Augusta, Georgia)[1] was an American composer of popular music, arranger, pianist, and an acclaimed dance orchestra leader. While a musician in the U.S. Army 2nd Infantry Band during World War I, Baisden composed several popular wartime songs, namely "Iowa, We Owe A Lot To You," "Meet Me At The Red Cross Ball," "I'll Steal You," and "Camp Cody Blues."[2]

Early career[edit]


The earliest extant published reference found of Baisden's avocation as a musician appears in the 1910 Minneapolis City Directory.[3] In 1911, Baisden was a pianist with the Lucas Show, a medicine show managed by Dr. George F. Lucas. The show featured Baisden with drummer Glenn Silk, The Three Aerial Lucases, gymnasts, York & DeLisco's Animal Circus [Mr. W. B. York (1870– ) and Madam Lottie DeLisco (née Lottie Kelsey; 1880 )], and John P. Mack as comedian. The show reportedly performed to capacity audiences in and around Minnesota, Nebraska, and North and South Dakota.[4] Baisden ended his engagement with Lucas sometime before September 1911.[5]

World War I

During the war, Baisden had been a member of the 2nd Iowa Infantry Band, mustered in 1916 at Camp Dodge, Iowa.[6] As some point, the band (and orchestra), conducted by John Valentine Eppel (1971–1931), was deployed to Camp Cody, New Mexico,[7] but, in sometime around May 1918, was re-stationed at Fort Dodge.[8]

Post World War I

For about 90 days, beginning sometime after Christmas 1818, Baisden toured with "Uncle Sammy's Minstrels," a group of musicians and entertainers composed of musicians who had returned from World War I, who, before the war had been headliners in vaudeville and Minstrel shows. The touring company included the 163rd Depot Brigade Band from Camp Dodge, Iowa,[9] for which, Baisden had been a musician. He also had been a piano player at the Magic Theater at Fort Dodge, Iowa, from 1917 to 1919.


On May 14, 1924, Charles Lick opened a newly constructed 22,000 square foot ballroom on a beachfront ocean pier in the Venice neighborhood of Westside Los Angeles. The ballroom featured an oval-shaped dance floor with enhanced acoustics. It was officially named the Bon Ton Ballroom, but was more widely known as the Venice Ballroom, and as of 1942, has been known as the Aragon Ballroom. The hall was large enough to be split into two separate ballrooms with different orchestras. From its inaugural day until 1924, Major Baisden, as he was then billed, led his twelve piece orchestra.

The Venice Ballroom engagement included a national broadcast by KFI radio in Los Angeles. In 1924, while engaged at the Venice Ballroom, Baisden became mentally ill. Ben Pollack, who had recently played 11 months in Baisden's orchestra, took over as leader from October 1924 to Fall 1925.[10][11]

Illness, hospitalization in Augusta, and death

On December 4, 1926, Baisden died. The cause of death was "general paralysis of the insane."[1] Baisden was buried at West View Cemetery in Augusta.

Selected compositions[edit]

Harry C. Baisden, Missouri Valley, Iowa
  • "Parcel Post Rag," by Baisden (1913)
Harry Baisden Publishing, Fort Dodge, Iowa
  • "Paramount Rag," by Baisden (1915)
Baisden and Poole, Fort Dodge, Iowa
  • "Famous Players Rag," by Baisden (1915)
Harry Baisden Publishing, Camp Cody, New Mexico
Homer-Garber (Homer Chalet Garber; 1878–1924), Des Moines, Iowa
Baisden & Arnold, Kansas City, Missouri
  • "Iowa, We Owe A Lot To You," lyrics & words by Corporal John Dent Arnold (1890–1948) & Baisden (1918) OCLC 643085338
Baisden-Stevenson Publishing Company, Jacksonville, Florida
  • "There'll Come A Day," lyrics by Carlyle Stevenson (1893–1969), music by Baisden (1920) OCLC 50429427, 843995618
Chas. F. Loveland and Harry Baisden, Los Angeles
  • "Built a World of Dreams," lyrics & music by Baisden (1923)
  • "California, We Owe A Lot To You," lyrics by Carlyle Stevenson (1893–1969), music by Baisden (1922)
Publisher not known
  • "Come Back To Your Man, Mi Moi San," words & music by Harry Baisdell (pseudonym or misspelling of Baisden) (composed in or before 1918)[7]
  • "Be As Good A Soldier As You Are A Son," lyrics by Mrs. M. Lauretta Green (née Mary Lauretta De Poister; 1883–1928), music by Harry Baisdell (apparent misspelling of Baisden)[7]

Selected discography[edit]

Harry Baisden and his Bon Ton Orchestra, Nordskog Records

Notable alumni of the Harry Baisden Orchestra[edit]


On July 27, 1918, Baisden married Jessie Marie Leonard (1899–1987) in Jackson County, Iowa.


  1. ^ a b Georgia Death Certificate: Cyrus Harry Baisden, State Register File No. 31209, filed December 8, 1926
  2. ^ Uncle Sam's Minstrels: Returned United States Soldiers Will Be Here Monday, March 17th, Willmar Tribune (Minnesota) March 5, 1919, pg. 3
  3. ^ Davison's Minneapolis City Directory, Minneapolis Directory Company, Vol. XXXVIII (1910), pg. 208
  4. ^ Miscellaneous: Notes from the Lucas Show, The New York Clipper, April 29, 1911, Vol. 59, No. 11, pg. 10, last column
  5. ^ Advertisement: The Lucas Show, Billboard, September 2, 1911
  6. ^ Sheet Music Cover: "Camp Cody Blues," music by Harry Baisden (1917)

    San Diego State University Library and Information Access
    Special Collections and University Archives
    The Vince Meades Popular American Sheet Music Collection
    Collection N° MS-0004

  7. ^ a b c New Composing Team, Deming Headlight, January 4, 1918, pg. 3
  8. ^ Emmetsburg Democrat, May 8, 1918, pg. 1
  9. ^ "Uncle Sammy's Minstrels" at Brandeis Open Thursday, Omaha World Herald, March 2, 1919, pg. 40
  10. ^ Swing, Swing, Swing: The Life & Times of Benny Goodman, by Ross Firestone, Norton (paperback), pg. 37 (1993) OCLC 25508069
  11. ^ Classic Jazz, by Scott Yanow, Backbeat Books, pg. 190 (2001) OCLC 47973308
  12. ^ Baisden Composes "Camp Cody Blues," Deming Headlight, January 9, 1918
  13. ^ Camp Cody, by Rick Phillips, The Enterprise Magazine (Silver City Enterprise), June 24, 1982
  14. ^ World War I Sheet Music: 9,670 Patriotic Songs Published In The United States, 1914–1920, With More Than 600 Covers Illustrated, by Bernard S Parker, McFarland & Company (2007), pg. 404 OCLC 71790113