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Ray Henderson

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Biography

Ray Henderson (December 1, 1896 – December 31, 1970), was an American songwriter.

Born Raymond Brost in Buffalo, New York, Henderson moved to New York City and became a popular composer in Tin Pan Alley. He was one third of a successful songwriting and music publishing team with Lew Brown and Buddy De Sylva from 1925 through 1930, responsible for several editions of the revue called George White’s Scandals and such book musicals as Good News, Hold Everything!, and Follow Thru. After De Sylva’s departure, Henderson continued to write with Brown through 1933, then worked with other partners. In 1934 he composed the musical Say When with lyricist Ted Koehler.

Henderson’s biggest hit songs included “That Old Gang of Mine”, “Annabelle” (both 1923), “Bye Bye Blackbird”, “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue”, “I’m Sitting on Top of the World” (all 1925), “The Varsity Drag” (1927), “You’re The Cream In My Coffee” (1928), “Button Up Your Overcoat”, “You Are My Lucky Star” “I’m A Dreamer, Aren’t We All”, “Keep Your Sunny Side Up” (1929), “The Thrill Is Gone”, and “Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries” (1931).

Henderson also worked as an accompanist to song and dance acts in Vaudeville. His last Broadway show was a resuscitation of the Ziegfeld Follies, one of several put on after Ziegfeld’s death. Henderson’s, in 1943, had the longest run of any Follies at 553 performances.

Ray Henderson died in Greenwich, Connecticut.

In 2000, a revue of Henderson’s music called It’s the Cherries opened in New York City as the inaugural show of the American Composer Series.

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