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Margie (1920)

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Origin and Chart Information
The song was named for the five-year-old daughter of entertainer Eddie Cantor who is credited with popularizing the song.

- Sandra Burlingame

Rank 268
Music Con Conrad
J. Russel Robinson
Lyrics Benny Davis

“Margie,” published in 1920, was a collaboration between composers Con Conrad and J. Russel Robinson and lyricist Benny Davis. The song was named for the five-year-old daughter of entertainer Eddie Cantor who is credited with popularizing the song. He performed the song at the Winter Garden Theater before interpolating it into the revue, The Midnight Rounders in 1921. It was a gay tune and quickly became a popular “parlor song” which was performed around the piano with friends and family in the days before radio became wide spread.


More on J. Russel Robinson at JazzBiographies.com

The song charted multiple times:

  • Gene Rodemich and His Orchestra (1920, #7)
  • Eddie Cantor (1921, 5 weeks at #1)
  • Ted Lewis and His Band (1921, #4)
  • Frank Crumit (1921, #7, Crumit appeared on Broadway and hosted a radio show)
  • Original Dixieland Jazz Band (1921, #9 with Robinson on piano)
  • Claude Hopkins and His Orchestra (1934, #5, Orlando Peterson vocal)
  • Don Redman and His Orchestra (1939, #15, group vocal)

Chart information used by permission from
Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954

Conrad, born Conrad K. Dober in 1891, was a pianist and vaudeville performer. He also formed a publishing company and wrote for Broadway and movies, winning an Oscar with Herb Magidson for “The Continental” which was featured in the 1934 Rogers/Astaire film Gay Divorcee. He also collaborated on “You Call It Madness, I Call It Love” and “Prisoner of Love.”

Robinson was a ragtime pianist (a member of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band), composer, lyricist, and arranger who wrote Cab Calloway’s “Reefer Man” and the title song for the 1948 movie Portrait of Jennie.

Davis was a vaudeville performer before turning his attention to songwriting and scoring Broadway shows and Cotton Club revues. His collaborations produced “I’m Nobody’s Baby,” “Baby Face,” and “I Still Get a Thrill.”

“Margie” is the love object of a young man who considers her his “inpiration” and for whom he has “bought a home, a ring, and everything”:

My little Margie, I’m always thinkin’ of you,

Margie, I’ll tell the world I love you.

The song appeared in several movies including Stella Dallas (1937), starring Barbara Stanwyck, Margie (1946), starring Jeanne Crain, and The Eddie Cantor Story (1953) in which Keefe Brasselle’s voice was dubbed by Cantor himself.

“Margie” became popular among Dixieland and, later, R&B groups, and it was recorded by Bix Beiderbecke, but it was Jimmie Lunceford’s band, playing a Sy Oliver arrangement that featured trombonist/vocalist Trummy Young, which helped revive the song in 1938. But most jazz recordings are a decade or more old: pianists Erroll Garner, Dave Brubeck, and Oscar Peterson; the Latin band of Ray Barretto; drummer Shelly Manne; vocalists Bing Crosby and Jo Stafford; organist Jimmy Smith; violinist Joe Venuti; and trumpeter Charlie Shavers.

- Sandra Burlingame

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Reading and Research
Additional information for "Margie" may be found in:

David Ewen
American Songwriters: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary
H. W. Wilson
Hardcover: 489 pages

(1 paragraph including the following types of information: anecdotal, film productions, history and performers.)
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Jazz History Notes
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Jazz History Notes

If New Orleans wasn’t the birthplace of jazz, then musicians from there certainly had a profound effect on the music. Without a doubt, bass players from the Big Easy turned on the heat--swinging rhythm sections four-to-the-bar, belying the myth that early jazz was just a two-to-the-bar, bass-line music.

Within a three-year period, from 1929 to 1932, New Orleans bass players came to New York and forever changed jazz band rhythm sections. Duke Ellington hired Wellman Braud; Luis Russell got George “Pops” Foster; and Cab Calloway employed Al Morgan.

Morgan was part of an all-star group assembled by guitarist Eddie Condon that recorded several sessions in 1932. Condon’s desegregated group also included New Orleans firebrand trumpeter Henry “Red” Allen, clarinetist Pee Wee Russell, pianist Joe Sullivan, and drummer Gene Krupa. Their version of “Margie” is a scorcher right from Krupa’s two-bar intro.

Morgan recorded the tune again with boss Cab Calloway in 1933. The swinging arrangement (probably by saxophonist Eddie Barefield) is very advanced for that year, but Morgan plays two-beat until the last chorus!

Chris Tyle - Jazz Musician and Historian

The Rhythmakers
Rhythmakers 1932
EPM Musique (France) 158842

Cab Calloway
The Early Years, 1930-1934
JSP Records 328

Written by the Same Composer(s)...
This section shows the jazz standards written by the same writing team.

Con Conrad, Benny Davis and J. Russel Robinson

Year Rank Title
1920 268 Margie

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