John Hancock

About John Hancock

Having nudged up alphabetically alongside the pseudonym of James Hancock, it comes as no great surprise that the man who also concocted the name E.V. Body as a songwriter credit for folk songs would actually sign himself up as John Hancock in order to scoop up royalties for several swing-era classics such as "Your Feet's Too Big" and "Buzzin' Around with the Bee." In the case of the former song, the Hancock tag has largely been dropped as subsequent publishers attempt to boil groups of credits down to people who actually might have had something to do with writing the song in question. The man behind the aforementioned nom de plumes was Joe Davis, an innovative publisher, A&R man, and record label producer and manager -- but not really much of a songwriter. Still, in the case of Fats Waller he has to be considered an important influence, having actually talked the shy, reluctant Waller into considering a performing career. Not everyone in the music business has agreed, however, that such an important influence justifies acquiring songwriting credits hither and yon. Some of Davis' contemporaries (on the other hand, one actually holding an implement of songwriting in it), including J. Russel Robinson, used other names so that potential customers would think they were buying material by several different people, or to avoid association with scandalous material along the lines of the gangster ballads that were a fad in the '30s. ~ Eugene Chadbourne

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