The founding of Edward Kassner Music Co Ltd…
Publishing has changed over the years but at its core it remains about the song and it was Edward Kassner’s ability to pick a great tune that enabled him to establish the company that still bears his name over six decades later. As an 18 year old music student he fled Nazi Austria and arrived in the UK in April 1939.
Lyricist seeks composer for writing partnership
Initially Edward found a job in the East End cutting felt for hats but music was always his true passion and he regularly searched the music papers for an opportunity to put his talents to good use. He eventually spotted an ad placed by someone looking for a composer to write music for his lyrics. The ad had been put there by a retired Army Captain, Peter Mulroney, who, with his wife Monica, took the young refugee into their Chelsea home. Mayfair Music was formed to publish their compositions.
The first hit… well, sort of…
Peter and Edward soon had their first hit though it was not, unfortunately, a musical one: the Blitz had begun and their offices in New Oxford Street were struck by a doodlebug. The company struggled on but with France’s collapse in 1940, Britain became so concerned for its own security that refugees were rounded up and shipped abroad. Edward was sent to Australia on the SS Dunera but, like so many other young internees, wanted to join the British Army. He was eventually allowed to do so and was returned to Britain.
Edward Kassner Music Co. Ltd is born
In 1943, Eddie met a young Englishwoman, Eileen, at London’s Hammersmith Palais, They fell in love and married soon after. Edward started to plan for the future and in 1944 together they formed The Edward Kassner Music Co Ltd.
“You’ve got a hit there, Sarge!”
Army life changed after the D-Day invasion and as the Allies advanced interpreters were needed. Edward was attached to a Canadian tank corps regiment. Off-duty, soldiers would gather round a piano and Eddie would play songs. Around this time he wrote a song called How Lucky You Are HOW LUCKY YOU ARE by EDDIE CASSEN,DESMOND O'CONNOR|. The soldiers used to say, “You’ve got a hit there, Sarge!” (as he had been promoted by then) and they were right.
Demobbed in 1946, and convinced that his song had the potential for something great, he went out and started plugging it to the various music hall stars of the time. Artists like Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson and Ted Andrews, Julie’s father, began to sing it a lot. In those days, the audiences were encouraged to sing along with the help of big lyric sheets and someone pointing out the words with a large stick.
The lady says “No.”
How Lucky You Are HOW LUCKY YOU ARE by EDDIE CASSEN,DESMOND O'CONNOR| was proving popular with the crowds but it was only when it was sung on BBC radio by the Forces' Sweetheart, Vera Lynn|, that it suddenly took off. The next day a rival publisher offered the young composer/publisher £250 for the rights to the song. It was a lot of money at the time but, even though they had struggled for so long, when Eddie asked his wife if they should sell it, she told him the answer in no uncertain terms: “No.” Edward Kassner Music held on to the song and three weeks later it was number 1 – becoming the fledgling publisher’s first hit.
Songwriter turned publisher
Although songwriting had given him his start, Edward Kassner soon realised that he had even more potential as a publisher. Over the next few years he published a string of hits with many of the famous artists of the day, If IF by STANLEY DAMERELL,TOLCHARD EVANS,ROBERT HARGREAVES|, Round and Round ROUND AND ROUND by JOE SHAPIRO,LOU STALLMAN| (Perry Como), My Son, My Son MY SON MY SON by EDDIE CALVERT,BOB HOWARD,GORDON REES| (Vera Lynn|), The Book THE BOOK by RAY MARTIN,PADDY ROBERTS| (David Whitfield) and Lonely Ballerina LONELY BALLERINA by MICHAEL CARR,ANNUNZIO MANTOVANI| (Mantovani) to name but a few.
The dream becomes reality
By 1953, having gained a reputation as one of Britain’s hot new publishers, Edward was approached by an unlikely character, an ex-US marine from Philadelphia, with a song called Rock Around the Clock ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK by JIMMY DE KNIGHT,MAX FREEDMAN|. Edward’s instinct for a hit didn’t fail him and he signed up the song for $250. The B-side of a recording by Bill Haley and his Comets|, it was used in the film Blackboard Jungle and became a global sensation, establishing the company’s worldwide presence in the process.