« The Limitation of Liability Act and the Titanic Submarine | Main | Florida Supreme Court displeased with federal judicial overreach »

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Saturday Music Post - Muskrat Ramble

Muskrat Ramble was written by Edward "Kid" Ory in the early 1920s and first recorded by Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five (including Ory on trombone and Lil Hardin Armstrong on piano) in 1926. It became one of Armstrong's most popular numbers with all of his successive ensembles, and a standard for jazz groups ever since. In 1950, the Disney lyricist Ray Gilbert -- most famous for Zip-a-Dee Do Dah -- added lyrics to the instrumental without Ory's consent. ASCAP later ruled that Gilbert was therefore entitled to one-third of the royalties, even for instrumental performances. That seems incredibly unfair to Ory, but I have not found any record of a subsequent challenge. Perhaps that was because the lyrics allowed numerous recordings by vocalists, thus increasing the royalties for everyone (but that's just a guess).

Ory's daughter did bring a copyright claim in 2001, almost three decades after his death, but not against Gilbert. That story is at the bottom of the post, which is well worth reading.

The clips are at The Faculty Lounge.

Posted by Steve Lubet on June 24, 2023 at 05:13 AM | Permalink


Post a comment