Sherman Edwards

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Sherman Edwards
Birth nameSherman Edwards
Born(1919-04-04)April 4, 1919
OriginNew York City, U.S.A.
DiedMarch 30, 1981(1981-03-30) (aged 61)
Manhattan, New York

Sherman Edwards (April 4, 1919 – March 30, 1981) was an American songwriter, best known for his songs from the 1969 Broadway musical 1776 and the 1972 film based on it.

Early life[edit]

Edwards was born in New York City and was raised in the Weequahic section of Newark, New Jersey, where he attended Weequahic High School. He lived in Parsippany, New Jersey from 1919-1981. He attended New York University, where he majored in history.[1] Throughout college, Edwards moonlighted, playing jazz piano for late night radio and music shows. After serving in World War II, Edwards taught high school history for a brief period before continuing his career as a pianist, playing with some of history's most famous swing bands and artists, including Louis Armstrong, Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman.[2]

Early music career[edit]

After a few years as a band leader and arranger for artist Mindy Carson, Edwards started writing pop songs at the famous Brill Building with writers including Hal David, Burt Bacharach, Sid Wayne, Earl Shuman and others.[citation needed] He turned out numerous hits in the late 1950s and early 1960s. As Rock n' Roll caught on, he found himself still at the Brill Building writing songs for Elvis Presley, including the well known Presley number Flaming Star. However, working with Presley's manager "The Colonel" proved to be Edwards' impetus to leave pop and rock songwriting; Presley's songwriters were forced to make huge monetary concessions in order to have their songs recorded by the great artist.[citation needed]

According to collaborator Earl Shuman, one day while collaborating with Edwards in the Brill building, where publishers provided music rooms for the songwriters, Edwards left mid-song saying something to the effect that he "wasn't into the rock songs any more" and that he had an idea for a show and was going home to write it.[citation needed] This began the evolution of 1776.[citation needed] Edwards talked to Peabody Award winning radio personality Mike Whorf about 1776 in an audio interview at Official 1776 web site.

Prior to 1776, Edwards had written the incidental music for the stage comedy A Mighty Man is He, which opened on Broadway at the Cort Theatre on January 6, 1960, and closed January 9 after five performances.[3]

Popular songs written by Edwards[edit]


Edwards' crowning achievement was, arguably, the musical 1776, for which he wrote the original book, lyrics and music. Peter Stone re-wrote the book. The show depicts the meeting of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, culminating with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It opened at the 46th Street Theatre on March 16, 1969 and ran for 1,217 performances. It won the Tony Award for Best Musical.[4]

Musical numbers[edit]

  1. Overture
  2. "Sit Down, John" – Adams, Congress
  3. "Piddle, Twiddle and Resolve"/"Till Then" – Adams
  4. "Till Then" – Adams, Abigail
  5. "The Lees of Old Virginia" – Lee, Franklin, Adams
  6. "But, Mr. Adams" – Adams, Franklin, Jefferson, Sherman, Livingston
  7. "Yours, Yours, Yours" – John, Abigail
  8. "He Plays the Violin" – Martha Jefferson, Franklin, Adams
  9. "Cool, Cool, Considerate Men" – Dickinson, The Conservatives
  10. "Mama Look Sharp" – Courier, McNair, Leather Apron
  11. "The Egg" – Franklin, Adams, Jefferson
  12. "Molasses to Rum" – Rutledge
  13. "Compliments" – Abigail
  14. "Is Anybody There?" – Adams
  15. Finale

Film version[edit]

The musical's 1972 film version retained all of Edwards' songs from the show except for "Cool, Cool, Considerate Men," which was cut from the movie for its depiction of Revolutionary War–era conservatives as power-hungry wheedlers focused on maintaining wealth. According to Jack L. Warner, the film's producer and a friend of then-U.S. President Richard Nixon, Nixon pressured him to cut the song because he apparently saw it as an insult to the conservatives of his time. It suggested that the conservatives were hindering American Independence as they danced a minuet singing the song that included the stanza,

Come ye cool, cool considerate set

We'll dance together to the same minuet

To the right, ever to the right

Never to the left, forever to the right.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Edwards was married to Ingrid Edwards, a dancer who was a member of the original Ed Sullivan dancers and danced on Broadway in Pins and Needles, Annie Get Your Gun, and Kiss Me, Kate.


The grave of Sherman Edwards

Edwards died of a heart attack in Manhattan at age 61 in 1981 and was interred at Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, NY. He was survived by his wife, Ingrid; his son, Keith; his daughter, Valerie, and his mother, Rae Edwards.[6]


External links[edit]