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Dan W. Quinn: "Little Old New York" Berliner disc 030 (April 4, 1899) visuals & BIOGRAPHY of singer

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Dan W. Quinn recorded "Little Old New York" on April 4, 1899. Berliner disc 030. He was born in San Francisco, perhaps in 1859 since Jim Walsh reports in the December 1961 issue of Hobbies that Quinn was 79 years old when he died. He was occasionally identified as a baritone but most often as a tenor. Quinn was a boy soprano in an Episcopal choir and was evidently a vaudeville performer when he was a young man. His photograph is on the cover of sheet music of the 1890s. He recounted how he began recording in a letter sent to Walsh, who quotes it at length in "Reminiscences of Dan W. Quinn," published in the July 1934 issue of Music Lovers' Guide. Quinn explained why he was among the most successful recording artists of the 1890s: "It was while working for Vic Emerson [a Columbia executive in the 1890s] that I began to work like a good fellow and went after all the latest songs. I learned everything, whether it naturally suited my style or not. The good singers--I mean fellows like John W. Myers and George Gaskins [sic]--were slow getting up their stuff, and I, being a sight reader, just couldn't keep from learning every new number." Quinn recorded regularly from 1892 to 1905. He made recordings for the Phonograph Record and Supply Company ("Laboratory, 97, 99 & 101 Reade Street, New York"). Columbia's November 1896 catalog, which lists over 60 Quinn titles, states, "Mr. Quinn's reputation as a vocalist is so well established that the mere announcement of his name is a guarantee of the record." He was one of Berliner's most important artists, recording nearly a hundred titles. The only singer to cover more titles for the disc company was tenor George J. Gaskin. Perhaps the earliest Quinn discs to be issued were "Girl Wanted" (935), recorded on November 3, 1895, and "Henrietta, Have Your Met Her?" (151), also recorded in November 1895. An April 1899 catalog issued by the National Gram-o-phone Company, maker of Berliner discs, identifies Quinn as "The King of Comic Singers." Berliners made by Quinn featuring show tunes include a "popular Hebrew dialect song" (as the National Gram-o-phone catalog characterizes it) titled "Ikey Eisenstein," from the show An American Beauty (1737--it was also recorded as Edison 1039) and, from the show Hurly Burly, "Little Old New York Is Good Enough For Me" (030), recorded on April 4, 1899. In contrast to singers who recorded standards, Quinn as a Berliner artist covered new songs, nearly all of them quickly forgotten, few being recorded by other artists. They include "Down in Poverty Row" (Berliner 161), "I've Been Hoodoed" (198), "The Irish Cake Walk" (1822), and "Then Pour Us A Drink Bartender" (1600), recorded on November 11, 1896. Songs recorded by Quinn that were genuine hits of the day, as evident by the variety of singers who recorded them, include "The Belle of Avenoo [sic] A" (184) and Dresser's "Just Tell Them That You Saw Me" (189). Quinn confirms in his letter to Walsh that he recorded mostly topical numbers though he wished to sing more hymns: "I made my living in the frivolous field, but my heart was in the other." He estimated cutting some 2,500 titles during his more than 20 years of recording experience. He listed for Walsh some companies that issued his records: "During my active days I recorded for practically all American companies: Edison, Victor, Columbia, United States, New Jersey, Chicago, Ohio, Boston, Gramophone, Gennett, Leeds-Catlin, and a number of others." Columbia moved its headquarters to New York City in 1897. An 1899 cylinder catalog duplicates an agreement dated May 1, 1898, establishing that Quinn, along with more than a dozen others, was exclusive to Columbia. The arrangement lasted a year. His last session for Berliner, before his exclusive contract with Columbia began, was on March 31, 1898. He next recorded for Berliner on April 4, 1899. Quinn usually worked as a solo artist. He was among the few artists who recorded for Eldridge R. Johnson's talking machine and disc company when it was briefly known as the Consolidated Talking Machine Company (it was later the Victor Talking Machine Company). During most of his recording career, Quinn was a free-lance artist, singing for practically all American companies. He made a few records in 1906 and then retired for a time (Gaskin likewise stopped recording around 1905, returning a decade later). This hiatus began just before the advent of double-faced discs. He continued to perform in vaudeville and operated a theatrical booking agency almost to the day of his death. In "Reminiscences of Dan W. Quinn," Walsh gives the address as 312 West 20th Street, New York City. Though nearly 60, he attempted in 1915 a recording comeback, beginning with a Columbia session on September 23, 1915. The singer died of intestinal cancer in his home at 312 West 20th Street, New York City.
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