Jack Sharpe (songwriter)

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John Rufus Sharpe III (October 31, 1909 – April 23, 1996), known as Jack Sharpe, was an American songwriter, music publishing executive and author. He is best known for "So Rare", published in 1937, which he wrote with composer Jerry Herst.[1][2]

Sharpe was born in Berkeley, California, United States, the first of two children of John Rufus Sharpe, Jr. and Regina Franvell Walshe.[3] Although his father was not known to be musically inclined, that was not the case with his mother. She achieved some local renown [4] for her operatic singing and she passed her love of music to her son. Sharpe was distantly related to the singer and entertainer Judy Canova.[citation needed]

"So Rare" was a #2 hit in 1957 for Jimmy Dorsey,[5][6] but it has been recorded by numerous artists including Carl Ravell and his Orchestra (1937), Gus Arnheim and his Coconut Grove Orchestra (1937), Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians (1937), Andy Williams (1959), Ella Fitzgerald (1960) and Ray Conniff (1965).[7][8] Sharpe and Herst have four collaborations listed at the performing rights organisation ASCAP, including "So Rare",[9] and a number of other Herst-Sharpe songs are listed at the US Copyright Office.[10]

Sharpe wrote the lyrics to "The Dream Peddler's Serenade" (1950), composed by Johnny Mercer and recorded by Margaret Whiting.[11][12]

He authored at least one novel, Hogar, Lord of the Asyr (1987), published in New American Library's Signet imprint under his full name of John Rufus Sharpe III.[13]

In the mid-1960s, Sharpe formed Rondo Music,[14] and by 1967 he was General Manager of the George E. Primrose Music Co, Mill Valley, California.[15] In 1970 he married Josephine Tumminia,[16][17] an opera singer who had recorded with the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra in 1937.[18] At the time of his death he had last resided in San Mateo, California,[19] but he died in Santa Cruz County.[20]


  1. ^ Billboard, 1 June 1996, page 62, archived at Google Books, death of John Rufus "Jack" Sharpe III
  2. ^ Social Security Death Index, hosted at www.ancestry.com : "John R. Sharpe, born 31 Oct 1909, died 23 Apr 1996
  3. ^ California Certificate of Live Birth #9-001509
  4. ^ "Talented Artists to Charm Music Lovers On Sunday". Oakland Tribune. April 30, 1908. p. 12. 
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1983) The Billboard Book of US Top 40 Hits, New York: Billboard Publications, Inc, page 94 ISBN 9780823075119
  6. ^ The label on the original Fraternity 45rpm record F-755 shows "JIMMY DORSEY" prominently, followed by small print "with Orchestra and Chorus"
  7. ^ Online Discographical Project discographies for 78 rpm record labels, listings of "So Rare" since 1937; Carl Ravell's version is the earliest session listed there and may be the first release of "So Rare".
  8. ^ All Music Guide: recordings of "So Rare"
  9. ^ American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers database: "So Rare", "World Stands Still", "What Did You Do It For" by Herst-Sharpe and "We'll Get A Bang Out Of Life" by Herst-Sharpe-Weeks
  10. ^ US Copyright Office: listings for Jerry Herst, pseudonym of Jerome P. Herst (b. 1909)
  11. ^ "Dream Peddler's Serenade", Song Database, Johnny Mercer Collection, Georgia State University Library
  12. ^ Billboard, 18 March 1950, page 21 archived at Google Books
  13. ^ US Copyright Office: Registration Number TX0002207589, Date 22 December 1987, John Rufus Sharpe III, Hogar, Lord of the Asyr. It was published as a Signet paperback, ISBN 9780451151124 and ISBN 9780451151124. See also Library of Congress Catalog Entry
  14. ^ Billboard, 1 June 1996, page 62, death of John Rufus "Jack" Sharpe III
  15. ^ Billboard, 6 May 1967, page SF-27: advertisement for George E. Primrose Music Co, archived at Google Books
  16. ^ California Marriage Index, 1960-1985
  17. ^ Jack O'Brian, "The Voice of Broadway", syndicated column, February 1971: example archived at Google News
  18. ^ "Josephine Tumminia with Jimmy Dorsey and His Orchestra", review, ' 'The Gramophone' ', October 1937, page 27, , archived at gramophone.net
  19. ^ Social Security Death Index, hosted at www.ancestry.com: "John R. Sharpe, born 31 Oct 1909, died 23 Apr 1996, last resided in San Mateo, SSN issued before 1951 by California"
  20. ^ California Death Index, hosted at www.ancestry.com: "John Rufus Sharpe, born 31 Oct 1909 CA, died 23 Apr 1996 Santa Cruz [county], mother's maiden name Walshe"

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