Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Edison Files: Frederick J. Wheeler

Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877. No one knows for sure who the very first recording artist was. Here is a look at an early recording artist I have in my collection.

Frederick J. Wheeler, also known as James F. Harrison, rose to prominence as part of the gospel duo, James F. Harrison and Harry Anthony, and enjoyed a string of hits as a soloist, paired with James Reed (real name: Reed Miller), and as a member of the Knickerbocker Quartet. The baritone balladeer's top- selling recordings included "Keep the Home Fires Burning" (Victor 17881, 1915/16), "My Little Dream Girl" (with Reed, Victor 17789, 1915), and "There's A Long, Long Trail" (with Reed, Victor 17882, 1915/16).

The Knickerbocker Quartet was formed in 1908 to replace the Edison Male Quartet. Original members were John Young, George M. Stricklett, Frederick Wheeler and Gus Reed. Personnel changed around 1912. Young and Wheeler were joined by Walter Van Brunt and William F. Hooley.

To listen to recordings made by Frederick J. Wheeler/James F. Harrison, or other early recording artists, visit the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

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