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Although Clarence Gaskill’s compositions number less than a hundred, he had several hits throughout his career and wrote the music for Earl Carroll’s Vanities (1925) and Keep It Clean (1929). He entertained troops during WWI and also wrote a sentimental war song called “That’s a Mother’s Liberty Loan.” The sheet music pictured a young soldier with his mother’s hand on his shoulder.
Gaskill also worked in the music publishing business. In 1919 he collaborated with Harry Armstrong on a song called “I Love You Just the Same Sweet Adeline” which is not to be confused with the 1929 Kern/Hammerstein musical Sweet Adeline. In 1924, with Will Donaldson and George Horther, he wrote “Doo Wacka Doo” which catered to the Hawaiian craze of the time. It was popularized by the Paul Whiteman orchestra and advertised as a “Wow Wow” fox trot. He collaborated with Irving Mills on “Nobody’s Business” in 1925 and in 1931 he and singer/bandleader Cab Calloway created “Minnie the Moocher” (also known as “The Hi-De-Ho Song”) which became the entertainer’s signature song. Gaskill and composer Jimmy McHugh wrote the enduring standard “I Can’t Believe That You’re in Love with Me” in 1927. A collaboration with Leo Robin and vocalist Russ Columbo from 1931, “Prisoner of Love,” became Colombo’s theme song and enjoyed a revival in 1964 when Perry Como recorded it.
Gaksill’s knowledge of the music business and copyrights enabled him to claim composer credit on a number of Christmas songs and nursery songs, including “Jingle Bells,” “Adeste Fidelis,” “Farmer in the Dell,” and “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”
- Sandra Burlingame
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