J. FRED COOTS (1897 - 1985)
Pianist, Writer, Composer, Performer
J. Fred Coots was a song plugger, pianist, vaudeville headliner, and composer. His mother wanted him to become a concert pianist but he heard the call of Tin Pan Alley. His first song was “Mister Ford You’ve Got the Right Idea,” written in 1917 when Henry Ford offered to send a peace ship to Europe in an effort to end WWI. His work in vaudeville included writing material for specific performers, one of whom was Sophie Tucker. He composed three Cotton Club Revues and became a staff composer for the Shuberts, writing songs for many musicals and revues.
His Broadway successes include Sally, Irene and Mary (1922) with lyricist Raymond Klages, Artists and Models (1924 and 1925), for which he wrote the music, and Sons o’ Guns (1929), a nostalgic comedy based on Army life for which he wrote both music and lyrics.
Among his songwriting credits are “I Still Get a Thrill (Thinking of You),” written with Benny Davis in 1930, and “Love Letters in the Sand” (1931), with lyricists Nick and Charles Kenny, which became a pop hit for Pat Boone in 1957. A collaboration in 1934 with Sam M. Lewis produced the lovely “For All We Know” (not to be confused with the recording of the same name by the Carpenters) which has been covered by such artists as Nina Simone, Nat “King” Cole, Rod Stewart, Bob Cooper, Stan Getz, and Joe Sample.
His most fruitful partnership was with Haven Gillespie, which produced the jazz standard, “You Go to My Head” (1938) and the blockbuster, “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” (1934), which Eddie Cantor premiered on his radio show. In 2003 ASCAP announced it as the most performed holiday song over the past three years. It was even recorded by rocker Bruce Springsteen.
-- Sandra Burlingame
Courtesy of JazzStandards.com