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Born in Joplin, Missouri, he left for Chicago in 1901 and moved on to New York City around 1907 to work as a Tin Pan Alley composer, but his music retains a Missouri folk flavor. He composed at least eighteen rags, including "Ashy Africa," "Noodles," "Peaches and Cream" (1905), "Crabapples," and "The Smiler" (1907). His songs include "Wabash Avenue After Dark" and the hits "Put on Your Old Grey Bonnet" (1909, lyrics by Stanley Murphy), "When You Wore a Tulip and I Wore a Big Red Rose" (1914, lyrics by Jack Mahoney) and "Minnetonka" (1921, lyrics by Gus Kahn).
"If It's Good Enough for Washington It's Good Enough for Me" with words by Ren Shields, from 1908, was a song about a homeless man sleeping on a bench in a public square with statues of Washington, Jefferson, McKinley, Grant and Lee.
"If it's good enough for Washington, It's good enough for me,
I'm proud that I am here tonight to keep him company,
I'm proud to sleep out with the man that set our country free,
If it's good enough for Washington, it's good enough for me."
Wenrich married vaudeville performer Dolly Connolly and in 1911 wrote the hit "Red Rose Rag" for her with lyrics by Edward Madden. In 1912 Wenrich and Madden had another hit with "Moonlight Bay." Wenrich and Connolly toured together for many years.
He died in New York City in 1952 at the age of 65. Connolly died in 1965 at the age of 77.
- Biography Percy Wenrich, "The Joplin Kid", Parlor Songs.
- The Music of Percy Wenrich, part 1, Parlor Songs.
- The Music of Percy Wenrich, part 2, Parlor Songs.
- Free scores by Percy Wenrich in the Choral Public Domain Library (ChoralWiki)
- audio early 20th century recordings of Wenrich compositions at the Library of Congress jukebox