Contributed by: Jack Kopstein
Jack Lawrence was born in Brooklyn on April 7, 1912. He grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family of modest means as the third of four sons. With practically no musical training, he began writing songs at a tender age. Due to parental pressure after he graduated at Thomas Jefferson High School, he enrolled in the First Institute of Podiatry and matriculated with a doctorate in 1932, the same year of the publication of his first song. With that, he forsook the practice of podiatry and a career was born.
Jack Lawrence has had a long and distinguished career in the world of entertainment since his first song, "Play Fiddle Play," an international hit. That song earned him membership in the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers at the tender age of 20. He was the youngest member to be accepted by ASCAP at the time. Years later, he was also among the first writers to be inducted into the National Songwriters Hall of Fame. For many years he held memberships in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Oscar Awards), and the Dramatist's Guild of America.
Many of his songs, most to which he wrote both words and music, have been used in important stage and film productions, and have been responsible for creating overnight stars. One such song was "Yes, My Darling Daughter," which introduced Dinah Shore to the public via Eddie Cantor's weekly program and was her very first recording. Another song was "If I Didn't Care" which was recorded by the then unknown Ink Spots and catapulted them to instant fame. When Frank Sinatra stepped forward as a solo singer, his first big hit recording was Jack's "All Or Nothing At All." Rosemary Clooney's career was sparked by her record of "Tenderly," and Bobby Darin will be forever associated with "Beyond The Sea."
Many of his other evergreens (listed below) are still being played and sung after these many years. All of his works have had recordings by such legendary artists at Nat Cole, Bing Crosby, The Andrews Sisters, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett and Billie Holiday. In fact, it would be difficult to name a star from the 30's through the 50's who had not sung or recorded one of Lawrence's songs. His music has touched every part of the world, his musicals have played Broadway, and his film songs have come from every major Hollywood studio. "Hold My Hand" from the film "Susan Slept Here" was nominated for an Oscar in 1954.
In the 80's, Jack Lawrence was also actively engaged as a Broadway producer and theater owner. His two theaters in the Broadway district were named the "Jack Lawrence" and the "Audrey Wood." He was co-producer of off-Broadway's long running success, "Other People's Money" and on Broadway with "Lena Horne, The Lady And Her Music," and "Come Back To The 5 And Dime, Jimmy Dean" (which introduced Cher and Kathy Bates to Broadway, sending them on to screen fame). Along with his song writing, he had a varied and well-rounded career in the world of entertainment.
Lawrence joined the United States Maritime Service during World War II. He composed the official song of the Maritime Service and Merchant Marine, "Heave Ho! My Lads, Heave Ho!" This song was composed when he was a Lieutenant in 1943, while bandleader at Sheepshead Bay Maritime Service Training Station in New York.
Heave Ho! My Lads! Heave Ho!
Give us the oil, give us the gas
Give us the shells, give us the guns.
We'll be the ones to see them thru.
Give us the tanks, give us the planes.
Give us the parts, give us a ship.
Give us a hip hoo-ray!
And we'll be on our way.
Heave Ho! My Lads, Heave Ho!
It's a long, long way to go.
It's a long, long pull with our hatches full,
Braving the wind, braving the sea,
Fighting the treacherous foe;
Heave Ho! My lads, Heave Ho!
Let the sea roll high or low,
We can cross any ocean, sail any river.
Give us the goods and we'll deliver,
Damn the submarine!
We're the men of the Merchant Marine!
Lawrence died on March 16, 2009 at age 96 after a fall in his home in Redding, Connecticut.
His songs are listed below many of which reached hit parade status around the world!
A Handful Of Stars
All Or Nothing At All
Beyond The Sea
Big Boy Blue
Boy Scout In Switzerland
Do Me A Favor
Fickle Finger Of Fate
Hold My Hand
I Had A Ball
If I Didn't Care
In An 18th Century Drawing Room
In The Moon Mist
It's Funny To Everyone But Me
Never Smile At A Crocodile
Once Upon A Dream
Play Fiddle Play
Poor People Of Paris
What's Your Story, Morning Glory?
What Will I Tell My Heart?
With The Wind & The Rain In Your Hair
Yes My Darling Daughter
"Heave Ho, My Lads, Heave Ho!" can be found on the following albums:
Music of Marines: United States Royal and Merchant