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He was born in Sumner, Illinois, and was the brother of Lester Melrose, with whom he established a music store in Chicago. This became successful after the Tivoli Theatre opened in the same street, greatly increasing the amount of passing trade. Melrose branched into music publishing when Jelly Roll Morton turned up in his store, and hits such as Wolverine Blues and King Porter Stomp became highly successful for the company. In 1926 he arranged a series of recordings for Victor Records by Morton's Red Hot Peppers, which have come to be regarded as landmarks of early jazz. He later parted company with Morton acrimoniously, and stopped paying him royalties for his compositions.
Melrose added lyrics to many existing jazz compositions that his company published, such as "Copenhagen". He established one of the major publishing companies with his brother, known as Melrose Brothers Music: The House That Blues Built.
- Jelly's Blues: The Life, Music, and Redemption of Jelly Roll Morton, Howard Reich and William Gaines
Walter Melrose had contributed to many songs and lyrics and has a broad discography after he died. Walter Melrose died in May of 1973, in Lake Barington, Illinois. Officially, he was a music publisher but did receive credits for several songs with the original Dixieland jazz band, including the songs "High Society" and "Tin Roof Blues". Both were hits in the late 1950s.  The Music Goes Round And Round Eigenvertrieb / DSCMusic 2014001 Martinique 2007
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Buona Sera New Orleans Eigenvertrieb / TBH 602 For Louis 2000
For Louis Concord / CCD-4879-2 Jazz Club Trio - Plus 1995
Jazz Club Trio - Plus Elite Special / TCD 7935 Mo' Cream From The Crop 1994
Mo' Cream From The Crop Sony Music Entertainment Switzerland GmbH / CK 66628 Nothing But The Blues
- "Radio Swiss Jazz - Music database - Musician". Radio Swiss Jazz.