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Collins, Arthur (Francis)

hits record harían american

Collins, Arthur (Francis), prominent American minstrel and novelty singer; b. Philadelphia, Feb. 7, 1864; d. Tice, Fia., Aug. 3, 1933. Collins was originally a vaudeville star who established himself in the infant record industry in his mid-30s. He recorded prolifically, frequently performing the same song for several different labels. His early hits included such comic fare as “When You Ain’t Got No More Money, Well, You Needn’t Come Around” (1899) and “Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home” (1900).

In 1901, Collins teamed up with Byron Harían, Joe Natus, and A. D. Madeira in the Big Four Quartet for the hit “Good-Bye, Dolly Gray.” He and Harían formed a more permanent association the same year, his baritone voice providing a humorous contrast to Harlan’s high tenor. The pairing resulted in such successful recordings as “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” (1911) and “When the Midnight Choo Choo Leaves for Alabam’” (1913), both written by Irving Berlin. From 1909 to 1918, Collins was a member of the Peerless Quartet; during his tenure with the group he sang on such hits as “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” (1911), “I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier” (1915), and “Over There” (1917). But his biggest hit was the solo monologue “The Preacher and the Bear” (1905), about a minister who goes hunting on Sunday and ends up treed by his prey. The title sold two million copies and was the best-selling record in history until 1920. (Phil Harris charted with a remake in 1947.) All told, Collins appeared on more than 30 major record hits between 1899 and 1918, making him one of the most successful American recording artists of the first two decades of the 20th century

Collins, John (Elbert) [next] [back] Collier-Thomas, Bettye M. (1941–) - African-American History, Archives Founder and Director

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