Haven Gillespie

Haven Gillespie

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James Lamont "Haven" Gillespie (February 6, 1888 – March 14, 1975) was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 Tin Pan Alley
Tin Pan Alley
Tin Pan Alley is the name given to the collection of New York City music publishers and songwriters who dominated the popular music of the United States in the late 19th century and early 20th century...

 composer and lyricist. He was the writer of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
"Santa Claus is Coming to Town" is a Christmas song. It was written by John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie, and was first sung on Eddie Cantor's radio show in November 1934....

" as well as "You Go to My Head
You Go to My Head
"You Go to My Head" is a 1938 popular song composed by J. Fred Coots with lyrics by Haven Gillespie. The song is a unique conjunction of a sophisticated lyric and complex, lush harmonic structure by two songwriters who were not generally known for such elegance; nevertheless the song is highly...

", "Honey", "By the Sycamore Tree", "That Lucky Old Sun
That Lucky Old Sun
"That Lucky Old Sun" is a 1949 popular song with music by Beasley Smith and words by Haven Gillespie. Like "Ol' Man River", its lyrics contrast the toil and intense hardship of the singer's life with the obliviousness of the natural world.-1949 recordings:...

", "Breezin' Along With The Breeze
Breezin' Along with the Breeze
"Breezin' Along with the Breeze" is a popular song.It was written by Haven Gillespie, Seymour Simons, and Richard Whiting and published in 1926.-External links:*, Missouri Jazz Band —....

", "Right or Wrong
Right or Wrong (song)
"Right or Wrong" is a jazz ballad from 1921. Composed by Arthur Sizemore and Paul Biese, with words by Haven Gillespie, it is described by the original sheet music as "a beautiful fox-trot ballad."The lyrics tell of the loss of a paramour...

," "Beautiful Love
Beautiful Love (1931 song)
"Beautiful Love" is a popular waltz composed by Wayne King, Victor Young and Egbert Van Alstyne with lyrics by Haven Gillespie. It was introduced by the Wayne King Orchestra in 1931...

", "Drifting and Dreaming", and "Louisiana Fairy Tale" (which was used as the first theme song in the PBS Production of This Old House
This Old House
This Old House is an American home improvement magazine and television series aired on the American television station Public Broadcasting Service which follows remodeling projects of houses over a number of weeks.-Overview:...

), each song in collaboration with other people such as Beasley Smith, Ervin R. Schmidt, Wayne King
Wayne King
Wayne King was an American musician, songwriter, singer and orchestral leader. He was sometimes referred to as "the Waltz King" because much of his most popular music involved waltzes; "The Waltz You Saved For Me" was his standard set closing song in live performance and on numerous radio...

, and Loyal Curtis.

Life and career

Gillespie was one of nine children of William and Anna Gillespie. The family was poor and lived in the basement of a house on Third Street between Madison Avenue and Russell Street in Covington, Kentucky. Gillespie dropped out of school in the fourth grade and could not find a job. His older sister, Lillian, had married John Hewling, who was in the printing business and the couple moved to Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

. Lillian had written Haven that there was a job waiting for him there and that he could live with them. In 1902, Haven left his Covington home to join his sister and brother-in-law.

A few years later, Gillespie began corresponding to a childhood sweetheart back in Covington. In 1908, he proposed marriage to Corene Parker by way of a postcard. The couple married on March 9, 1909, in Corene's Covington home. She was 19 and Haven was 21. He had fifteen dollars in his pocket and she had just one dollar given to her by her mother. Gillespie soon landed a job as a typesetter for the Cincinnati Times-Star, ultimately maintaining his membership in the International Typographic Union until his death. He found work as a "plug" man, entertaining audiences at local vaudeville shows by playing and singing songs he had written.

They had only one child, Haven Lamont Gillespie, who was born January 10, 1910.

His first break came in 1911 when he met Roy Steventon, performing with Mildred Lovejoy in a dancing act at the Keith Theater in Cincinnati. Gillespie and Steventon teamed up on three songs for the act, "You're Just The Girl I've Met In My Dreams", "When I Am Gone", and "Winter Time Is Coming Around Too Soon." Haven was paid one and a half cents for each piece of sheet music sold, total royalties which amounted to only a few dollars over the next several years.

While touring to promote his songwriting, Gillespie began drinking heavily and would struggle with alcohol addiction most of his life. At age 23 and after a long night of drinking, he met Joe Ford, a printer with the Cincinnati Tribune. Ford took Haven home to sober up and the two men eventually developed a lifelong friendship.

Gillespie's first major hit came in early 1925 with "Drifting and Dreaming." Many of his songs were inspired by chance moments in his life. He left for New York and became a journalist and composer of songs for vaudeville shows. He first gained notice in 1925 with "Breezin Along With The Breeze", in collaboration with Egbert Van Alstyne, Ervin R. Schmidt, and Loyal Curtis, which was recorded by Josephine Baker
Josephine Baker
Josephine Baker was an American dancer, singer, and actress who found fame in her adopted homeland of France. She was given such nicknames as the "Bronze Venus", the "Black Pearl", and the "Créole Goddess"....

 among many others.


Gillespie worked in collaboration with many other artists including:
  • George (Roy) Steventon
  • J. Fred Coots
    J. Fred Coots
    John Frederick Coots was an American songwriter. He wrote over 700 songs.He is most famous for the song "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town", a song that became one of the biggest best sellers in American music history....

  • Mitchell Parish
    Mitchell Parish
    Mitchell Parish was an American lyricist.-Early life:Parish was born Michael Hyman Pashelinsky to a Jewish family in Lithuania. His family emigrated to the United States, arriving on February 3, 1901 on the SS Dresden when he was less than a year old...

  • Henry Marshall
  • Henry Tobias
  • Charles Tobias
    Charles Tobias
    -Biography:Born in New York City, Tobias grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts with brothers Harry Tobias and Henry Tobias, also songwriters.He started his musical career in vaudeville. In 1923, he founded his own music publishing firm and worked on Tin Pan Alley...

  • Neil Moret
    Neil Moret
    Charles N. Daniels , was a composer, occasional lyricist, and music publishing executive. He employed many pseudonyms, including Neil Moret, Jules Lemare, L'Albert, Paul Bertrand, Julian Strauss, and Sidney Carter...

  • Peter DeRose
    Peter DeRose
    Peter DeRose was an American Hall of Fame composer of jazz and pop music during the Tin Pan Alley era.-Biography:DeRose was born in New York City and as a boy exhibited a gift for things musical...

  • Egbert Van Alstyne
    Egbert Van Alstyne
    Egbert Anson Van Alstyne was a United States songwriter and pianist. Van Alstyne was the composer of a number of popular and ragtime tunes from the early 20th century.He was born in Marengo, Illinois...

  • Victor Young
    Victor Young
    Victor Young was an American composer, arranger, violinist and conductor. He was born in Chicago.-Biography:...

  • Jack Little
    Little Jack Little
    Jack Little , sometimes credited Little Jack Little, was a British-born American composer, singer, pianist , actor and songwriter whose songs were featured in several movies...

  • Richard Whiting
    Richard A. Whiting
    Richard Armstrong Whiting was a composer of popular songs including the standards, "Hooray for Hollywood", "Ain't We Got Fun?" & "On the Good Ship Lollipop"....

  • Pete Wendling
    Pete Wendling
    Pete Wendling , an American composer and pianist, was born in New York City to German immigrants.He started his working life as a carpenter, but gained fame during the mid 1910s as a popular music composer - producing such hits as Yaaka Hula Hickey Dula, Take Me To The Land Of Jazz, Take Your...

  • Seymour Simons
    Seymour Simons
    Seymour Simons, was an American Pianist, Composer, Orchestra Leader, and Radio Producer.Simons returned to Detroit after service in World War I and built a reputation as a pianist and songwriter, providing material for stage stars Nora Bayes and Elsie Janis...

  • Byron Gay
  • Rudy Vallée
    Rudy Vallée
    Rudy Vallée was an American singer, actor, bandleader, and entertainer.-Early life:Born Hubert Prior Vallée in Island Pond, Vermont, the son of Charles Alphonse and Catherine Lynch Vallée...

  • Larry Shay
    Larry Shay
    Larry Shay was an American songwriter.Shay was born in Chicago, Illinois. While still young, he studied the piano at the Bush Conservatory of Music in Chicago. He eventually moved to New York City to become a songwriter. His first composition was "Do You, Don't You, Will You, Won't You," published...

  • Lee David
  • Earl Edmonds
  • Lloyd Kidwell

He also wrote songs for:
  • Dean Martin
    Dean Martin
    Dean Martin was an American singer, film actor, television star and comedian. Martin's hit singles included "Memories Are Made of This", "That's Amore", "Everybody Loves Somebody", "You're Nobody till Somebody Loves You", "Sway", "Volare" and "Ain't That a Kick in the Head?"...

  • Frank Sinatra
    Frank Sinatra
    Francis Albert "Frank" Sinatra was an American singer and actor.Beginning his musical career in the swing era with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, Sinatra became an unprecedentedly successful solo artist in the early to mid-1940s, after being signed to Columbia Records in 1943. Being the idol of the...

  • Michael Jackson
    Michael Jackson
    Michael Joseph Jackson was an American recording artist, entertainer, and businessman. Referred to as the King of Pop, or by his initials MJ, Jackson is recognized as the most successful entertainer of all time by Guinness World Records...

  • Louis Armstrong
    Louis Armstrong
    Louis Armstrong , nicknamed Satchmo or Pops, was an American jazz trumpeter and singer from New Orleans, Louisiana....

  • Sarah Vaughn
  • Margaret Whiting
    Margaret Whiting
    Margaret Whiting was a singer of American popular music and country music who first made her reputation during the 1940s and 1950s.-Youth:...

  • Bruce Springsteen
    Bruce Springsteen
    Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen , nicknamed "The Boss," is an American singer-songwriter who records and tours with the E Street Band...

  • George Strait
    George Strait
    George Harvey Strait is an American country music singer, actor, and music producer. Strait is referred to as the "King of Country," and critics call Strait a living legend. He is known for his unique style of western swing music, bar-room ballads, honky-tonk style, and fresh yet traditional...

He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame
Songwriters Hall of Fame
The Songwriters Hall of Fame is an arm of the National Academy of Popular Music. It was founded in 1969 by songwriter Johnny Mercer and music publishers Abe Olman and Howie Richmond. The goal is to create a museum but as of April, 2008, the means do not yet exist and so instead it is an online...

in 1972.