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Biography

Ben Selvin (March 5, 1898 - July 15, 1980), son of Russian-immigrant Jewish parents, started his professional life at age 15 as a fiddle player in New York City night clubs. A husky lad, he looked older than he was and as such was permitted into such establishments. A mere six years later, as leader of his own dance band, he had recorded what is universally regarded as the first popular recording ever to sell a million copies. That recording, Dardanella, eventually went on to sell more than 5 million copies and some 2 million pieces of sheet music.

In addition, according to The Guinness Book of World Records and many other sources, he is acknowledged as having recorded more musical sides (on 78-rpm discs), than any other person, living or dead. One reason for this prolific output is that he recorded for dozens of different labels during this high-growth time in the industry, using a different name (or slightly different name) on each label.

It's estimated that Mr. Selvin recorded in the neighborhood of 13,000 to near 20,000 song titles; more than Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Paul Whiteman and even the other 1920's prolific bandleader Sam Lanin combined!

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