In the large showroom of Hathaway & Bowers, Inc., 1967 to 1972, there was an extensive and varied collection of restored automatic musical instruments, ranging from delicate music boxes to large and ornate orchestrions, all of which belonged personally to either Dave Bowers or Terry Hathaway. This wonderful collection of instruments was often referred to as the Hathaway & Bowers, Inc., reference collection. It was used to demonstrate the beauty and music of many types and sizes of automatic musical devices for people who would otherwise not know what to expect from an unrestored and silent machine. In time, the colorful collection became famous, as did Hathaway & Bowers, Inc., and it was featured on numerous television programs. Moreover, in addition to the so-called "reference collection," there were other machines that were recorded, too, some that belonged to either Dave Bowers or Terry Hathaway, but that were not on display, or oftentimes there were beautiful specimens that were merely passing through our facility, in route to a new owner.
The various instruments featured on this Archive CD present a pleasant musical sampling of the smaller and very popular Wurlitzer automatic musical instruments. Some of these machines are very rare, even by automatic musical standards. This Archive CD may be the only way you ever get to hear some of the instruments recorded. Regrettably, however, the original 1/4 inch analog stereo master tapes for the music on this Archive CD were thrown out some twenty-five years ago. This meant that the audio had to be captured from several mint condition vinyl LP's, recordings originally issued by Hathaway & Bowers, Inc., circa 1967-69. Once the audio signal from the LP's had been digitized, it was carefully processed to remove any impulse noise (pops and ticks). Next, low frequency rumble and vinyl surface noise components were removed, followed by equalization to remedy any bias introduced by the vinyl LP recording process itself. The result, using professional quality audio restoration software, is a clean and very enjoyable listening experience. The selection of music is of popular tunes, musical selection that visitors to the H&B showrooms enjoyed circa 1967 through 1972.
The Wurlitzer Harp featured on this recording is a rare style B harp, which belonged to Dave Bowers (currently in the Nethercutt Collection). It was one of three harps that Dave, along with Roy Haning and Neal White, discovered in a back room in the old J. W. Whitlock factory, of Rising Sun, Indiana. Not expecting to find the original harp factory still intact, they were surprised when they drove into town and immediately spotted a large old wooden building bearing the J. W. Whitlock & Company name. Once inside, Stewart Whitlock, son of the founder, greeted them. When asked if he remembered anything about the old harps their company had made for Wurlitzer, Stewart responded, pointing his finger through a doorway, "Oh, you mean like those over there." And there they were, one style A harp, and two style B harps, in mint condition, three harps that had never been delivered to Wurlitzer.
Anyone who has heard an original Wurlitzer harp, as it came from the factory (and this one was just out of the factory, circa 1965-66) knows how much motor and pump racket they made. For this audio re-issue, that motor and pump noise has been carefully filtered out, using sophisticated computer software, without disturbing the actual musical content of the original recording. Thus, you will hear the Wurlitzer Harp free of all the unwanted mechanical clatter, which is something that patrons in the early days of automatic music could not achieve.
A very refined lady, who was an accomplished harpist, visited H&B, admiring the Wurlitzer Style B Harp that was on display. But just prior to the time of her first visit a drive belt had broken, or something equally simple to fix, which prevented her hearing the harp. She dreamed of what it must sound like, but when she finally did hear it, only a few notes had played when her jaw dropped like a rock. She was very disappointed, because it did not sound like what she had imagined and expected to hear. What she heard was not the delicate renderings of a heavenly harp, but, rather, a relatively "gaudy" piano arrangement, clumsily plucked out on a set of upright strings. The music roll arrangements were formulated by Mrs. Whitlock, who had some ability to play the piano. Up in the attic of the J. W. Whitlock building, Mrs. Whitlock spent much of her day sitting in front of an upright piano, which was somehow hooked up to a recording device. As she churned out piano arrangements of popular tunes, these "attic compositions" were transcribed into music roll masters. These masters were in turn used to cut the Wurlitzer Harp's production music rolls. These rolls were all perforated in the Whitlock factory; never in the Wurlitzer factory in North Tonawanda, New York.
This was an early style Mandolin Quartette, which Dave Bowers got in restored condition from Roy Haning and Neal White, of Troy, Ohio (currently in the Nethercutt Collection). The Mandolin Quartette is a unique sound amongst roll played instruments, and supposedly represents the playing of a trio of Italian Mandolins, with piano accompaniment, i.e., a quartette. In reality, however, it is basically two small scale pianos, side by side. The piano section on the left is for piano accompaniment, and is played with a shortened, but standard looking piano action. On the right, however, the piano strings are struck by tiny, hard felted hammers, which are activated by a reiterating action, producing a ringing sound reminiscent of how a mandolin might be played. The reiterating mechanism is quite noisy, and subject to wear, mainly due to the metal to metal contact between the brass tabs at the bottom of each note's whippen and the fastly rotating steel spline that engages the brass tabs, causing the tiny hammers to forcibly impact the piano strings. Although all this mechanical chatter was part of the original recording, for this re-issue CD, most of this objectionable noise was filtered out using sophisticated computer software, leaving the musical tones of the Mandolin Quartette unfettered.
At present, maybe three or four Bijou Orchestras are known to exist. The one heard on this Archive CD was purchased by Terry Hathaway in 1954 (for $250, plus an additional $125 for work done by Herbert N. Vincent in restoring the pumps and main chest). It was one of the last instruments to be sold from the historic A. C. Raney collection, which was located near Whittier, California. The Bijou's original location is unknown, but it is likely that the Raney's found it somewhere in California, since that is where they lived and spent much of their time searching for automatic musical items.
It is this instrument that initiated the meeting of Dave Bowers and Terry Hathaway, eventually leading to the formation of Hathaway & Bowers, Inc. Dave was writing Put Another Nickel In, (circa 1965) and was doing research on the Bijou Orchestra, surmising it might have been nothing more than just a concept, and never something actually manufactured. After all, Dave reasoned, why would Wurlitzer (or anyone in their right mind) ever build such a ridiculous orchestrion, a big machine that played the tiny 44-note Pianino roll? However, before writing off the Bijou as just another paper orchestrion that never really existed, he mentioned it to Otto Carlsen, Monrovia, California. To Dave's great surprise, Otto replied that he had heard that some kid in Santa Fe Springs, California, had one. Dave urged Otto to check it out, but nothing was done, until Put Another Nickel In was nearly ready to go to press, and Dave needed to know for certain if something akin to a Bijou Orchestra really existed, or not. So, late one summer afternoon, Otto Carlsen finally telephoned Terry Hathaway in Santa Fe Springs, and the rest is fairly well known history. The Bijou Orchestra was sold circa 1970 to Judge Hofheinz, the Astro Dome, Houston, Texas. Its current whereabouts are unknown.
Although tunes attributed to the Wurlitzer DX and IX coin-in-the-slot pianos may sound technically correct, representing these instruments faithfully, the actual instrument used for the original recording was the Wurlitzer CX Orchestra Piano, belonging to Terry Hathaway, which is described next (see below). Naturally, to accomplish this effect, the percussion and/or pipework was shut off to represent the DX and/or IX styles.
Terry Hathaway bought this machine in very unrestored condition from Orville Cooper, Long Beach, California. It was sitting in his garage, just inside the door. Orville was well known for digging up all kind of automatic musical devices, and was happy to sell the Wurlitzer CX, because it needed lots of love and attention before it would ever play music again. Restored by Terry Hathaway, circa 1965, it was later to be part of the reference collection at Hathaway & Bowers, Inc., until it was sold to Al Torf, circa 1971, who owned and operated the House of Props, Hollywood, California. The instrument has been used in at least one movie, Stir Crazy, starring Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. The current ownership and location of this style CX Orchestra Piano is unknown. Instrumentation of the CX consists of a piano, with mandolin attachment, violin pipes, dopple flute pipes, bells (an original Wurlitzer bell action was added), snare drum, bass drum and triangle.
The original location of this late and unusual Wurlitzer Style LX Orchestra Piano (currently in the Nethercutt Collection) is unknown, but Dave Bowers bought it circa 1967-68, from the late Otto Carlsen, who enjoyed, owned, restored and traded a spectacular procession of rare instruments, which were displayed in his hillside music room above Monrovia, California. This particular LX contains the ultimate in instrumentation for any machine designed to be operated by the Wurlitzer Automatic Player Piano music roll; a piano, with mandolin attachment, violin pipes, flute pipes, bells, reiterating xylophone, snare drum, bass drum and triangle. Moreover, this LX is the only known surviving example that was originally factory fitted with a xylophone. However, since the Wurlitzer Automatic Player Piano roll was not originally designed to control either the bells or xylophone, multiplexed controls for these two instruments, using already existing control perforations, were added to the tracker layout, probably circa 1920. Unfortunately, the music rolls that do accommodate the bells, and especially the rarely added xylophone, were only available on rolls cut during the latter years of music roll production. Fortunately, rolls are fairly common that support the bells, but it is rare to find rolls that utilize the xylophone, which is why only one tune on this CD makes use of this particular instrument.
This sprightly little Wurlitzer Style 103 Military Band Organ landed on the H&B doorstep one sunny afternoon in wonderful playing condition. The Style 103 is a very small, compact organ, without drums, and, as you will hear, it produced a volume and fullness of tone that is both very enjoyable and quite remarkable, especially given its tiny size. Several large orchestrions were being recorded (for an LP record) at the moment of its arrival, so the little 103 band organ was included in the recording session, strictly on a whim, capturing its brilliant personality for posterity. Its current whereabouts are unknown.
Wurlitzer H&B Potpourri
|Wurlitzer Style B Harp|
|1.||Mammy Jinny's Jubilee|
|2.||Curse of an Aching Heart|
|Wurlitzer Mandolin Quartette|
|3.||Battle Hymn of the Republic|
|4.||Columbia Gem of the Ocean|
|5.||Yankee Doodle - America|
|7.||Tell Me Little Gypsy|
Wurlitzer Bijou Orchestra
|8.||Alexander's Rag Time Band|
|9.||Oh! You Beautiful Doll|
|10.||That Baseball Rag|
|11.||When the Henry Clay Comes Steaming into Mobile Bay|
|Wurlitzer DX Violin Piano|
|12.||California Here I Come!|
|13.||Roses of Picardy|
|Wurlitzer IX Electric Piano|
|14.||You're the Cream In My Coffee|
|15.||Granny You're My Mammy's Mammy|
|Wurlitzer CX Orchestra Piano|
|16.||He's Worth His Weight in Gold|
|17.||If You Don't Love Me|
|18.||Bye Bye Blackbird|
|20.||There's a Trick in Pickin' a Chick-Chick-Chicken|
|Wurlitzer LX Orchestra Piano|
|22.||Show Me the Way to Go Home|
|Wurlitzer Style 103 Band Organ|
|27.||Over the Waves|
|28.||When the Merry-Go-Round Broke Down|
Listen to a sample from the Wurlitzer Mandolin Quartette playing:
"COLUMBIA, GEM OF THE OCEAN"
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