The Watkins catalog of known Wurlitzer style 165 band organ
rolls, begun by Gary Watkins in 1969, which I have been editing since
1986, had until recently only a dozen tunes for which we were unable to
supply titles (out of the more than 1500 tunes listed).
But recently a few very early Wurlitzer style 165 band organ
rolls have been discovered which have no labels identifying their
contents. This has raised the total of unidentified tunes to the current
high of 32 tunes. Back around 1990 I had enlisted the help of 78 RPM
record collectors in identifying the hold-outs: I placed an ad in the New
Amberola Graphic offering to send tapes of the unknowns to anyone who
would help in the identification and promising a reward of $5 for each
verifiable identification. It worked. With their help the total of
unknowns was reduced to the dozen I mentioned.
All of the tunes on the current unknown list are from 1917 or
earlier (with the exception of two waltzes from 1930) and are marches,
waltzes, and two-steps that were popular in the United States at the
time, though they are pretty obscure today. Nobody from that time period
is alive today, and only 78 RPM record collectors, music roll collectors,
and the like are apt to recognize any of these tunes from hearing them on
a band organ recording.
As I begin my newest (and probably final) campaign to identify
the hold-outs, there is now the power of the Internet to call on. I
suppose that some of my fellow MMD subscribers should be pretty familiar
with American popular music from the pre-World War I era. If you
are--and better fellows than I have failed to come up with the titles for
these holdouts--email me (email@example.com) your postal address, and I
will send you recordings of the tunes. You will have a chance to beat
the best who have tried and failed.