Previous Vocal Group Record of the Week
(Week of 12/9/00 - 12/15/00) [Complete Upgrade on 1/27/18]

"Rumors Are Flying"/"I Left My Heart In Mississippi"
by The Two Tones (Bennie and George)
on Cosmo 504
released in 1946

Above: (L-R) Bennie Benjamin and George Weiss, the songwriters, are The Two Tones on Cosmo Records.

One of the leading hit records in the popular song field this summer is "How Important Can It Be" by Bennie Benjamin and George Weiss. To achieve success as a writer of popular songs is a long hard road and there is a great deal of competition. Bennie Benjamin worked at being a song writer for 10 years without success, and the manuscript of his first hit he carried from publisher to publisher before it was accepted. Finally "I Donít Want To Set The World On Fire" came out and it went like wildfire. From then on Bennie Benjamin didnít have to worry much about getting into publishersí offices. Today, he is a top Broadway song writer, and one of the most successful Negroes in that field....

Benjamin came to New York from the Virgin Islands just as the depression was beginning, so he had hard going during his early years in a new country. But in New York Bennie managed to purchase a guitar, and he used this instrument to pick out the tunes of his songs.

His second song hit was written during the war-time dimout, and was called "When The Lights Go On Again All Over The World." But before Bennie could collect any money from it, he was taken into the armed services. When the war was over and Benjamin got back to New York, one day on Broadway he met a young white musician, George Weiss, who was a student at the Julliard School of Music. Weiss had studied arranging and composition and was then working for various well-known band leaders.

Benjamin never had a lesson in musical theory, but he had a natural talent for making up tunes. Together, Benjamin and Weiss formed a song writing team that has since become one of the most successful in the business. Combining the talents of Bennie for melody and those of Weiss for arranging music and rhyming words, the two men, one white and one colored, have had a dozen big hits. Their names are known the length and breadth of Tin Pan Alley, and their songs are sung everywhere.

"Rumors Are Flying." "Oh, What It Seemed to Be," "Surrender," "Speaking of Angels," "These Things I Offer You," and "Wheel of Fortune" are theirs. The credit line on their title pages reads: "Words and music by Bennie Benjamin and George Weiss."

For Walt Disney they wrote the title songs for "Fun and Fancy Free" and "Melody Time." "Billboard" rated them the top song writing team in America in 1946. And almost every year since then, Bennie Benjamin and George Weiss have had a hit.

This year itís "How Important Can It Be." Along that section of Broadway known as Tin Pan Alley, amiable, chubby Bennie Benjamin is one of the most likable of the tunesmiths engaged in writing the songs our country sings.

JET MAGAZINE March 1952 (L-R) George Weiss and Bennie Benjamin.

(L-R: Bennie Benjamin and George Weiss)

With more smash hits to their credit in the last five years than any other team of composers, Benny Benjamin and George Weiss are the most consistently-successful song-writing combination in Tin Pan Alley. Currently riding the Hit Parade with their latest success, Wheel Of Fortune, the two prolific writers have produced 40 published tunes since joining forces in 1946, and recordings of their songs have sold over 25 million copies. Wheel Of Fortune is currently No. 10 among retail sheet music best sellers.

The two first met in 1938 when Weiss was a Juillard Music School student and Benjamin, a struggling songwriter. "We hit it off immediately," George recalls. "We just seemed to click." Oddly, they did not form their interracial song-writing team until after each had returned from a hitch in the armed forces.

Benjamin and Weiss have jointly grossed over $100,000 annually for the past several years. During the last three years, their total record sales exceeded 10 million while sheet music sales ran over 1,200,000. Their biggest all-time hit, Oh What Seemed To Be, sold over three million records and over a million sheet music copies.

A few of the Benjamin-Weiss hit songs are: I Ran All The Way Home, These things I offer You, Rumors Are Flying, To Think You've Chosen Me, I want To Thank Your Folks.

The combination of their last two hits, I Ran All The Way Home and Wheel Of Fortune, resulted in Benjamin and Weiss being honored recently at New York's Leon & Eddie's night club as the foremost songwriting team in the business.

[NOTE: "Wheel Of Fortune" was done by The Cardinals, "Rumors Are Flying" by The Brown Dots, and "I Want To Thank Your Folks" by The Ink Spots. Together, Benjamin and Weiss also composed "Cross Over The Bridge" (The Flamingos) and "Can Anyone Explain" (Savannah Churchill And The Striders). Benjamin also contributed to "I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire" (The Ink Spots) and "When The Lights Go On Again" (Herb Kenny And The Comets).]

Windows Media Player:
Listen to "The Wheel Of Fortune" - The Cardinals - Atlantic 958 - 1952.
Listen to "Rumors Are Flying" - The Brown Dots - Manor 1040 - 1946.
Listen to "I Want To Thank Your Folks" - The Ink Spots - Decca 23851 - 1947.
Listen to "Cross Over The Bridge" - The Flamingos - Chance 1154 - 1954.
Listen to "Can Anyone Explain? (No, No, No)" - Savannah Churchill And Her Group - Arco 1259 - 1950.
Listen to "I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire" - The Ink Spots - Decca 3987 - 1941.
Listen to "When The Lights Go On Again" - Herb Kenny And Comets - Federal 12083 - 1952.
ALL OF THE ABOVE played in sequence.


NEW YORK—Deek Watson and the famous Brown Dots will pay tribute to one of the most popular of the current songwriters on their broadcast Saturday July 13 over the American Broadcasting System network when they dedicate the show to Bennie Benjamin, author of several hits.
(NOTE: The Brown Dots recorded two of Benjamin's efforts, "Rumors Are Flying" and "Surrender.")

THE CASH BOX, August 19, 1946: Harry Bank's pen (the one that signs contracts) has been working overtime lately. Among the newcomers to enter the Cosmo fold are Benny Benjamin and George Weiss, the famed song writing team who scribed such hits as "Oh! What It Seemed To Be" and "Surrender." Benny and George will vocalize as the Two Tones. In addition, Cosmo will have first recording rights on all new melodies written by the pair....

THE BILLBOARD, July 1950: ....The songwriting team of Benny Benjamin and George Weiss have been inked to do a pair of sides for Mercury. Team will do two of their own songs with organ and vocal group backing. Tunes are "Can Anyone Explain" and "It All Begins And Ends With You"....
(NOTE: The record was released in August 1950 as Mercury 5464 by The Soft Notes. "It All Begins..." is NOT a Benjamin-Weiss composition. They have vocal group backing on both sides.)

The Billboard Review (9/2/50): SOFT NOTES - MERCURY 5464....
It All Begins And Ends With You
(70) The Soft Notes are Benny Benjamin and George Weiss, erstwhile tunesmiths; they do a pleasant harmony job with this revival effort.
Can Anyone Explain? (72) This is their own song. They render it quite adequately but on wax they are smothered by a powerhouse of earlier interpretations.
[NOTE: The powerhouse versions of "Can Anyone Explain?" include The Ames Brothers (Coral), Vic Damone (Mercury), Larry Green (RCA Victor), Al Morgan (London), Ray Anthony (Capitol), and, of course, Savannah Churchill (Arco).]

(NOTE: A ratings range of 70-79 was considered "good.")

The Cash Box Review (9/2/50): SOFT NOTES - MERCURY 5464....
Can Anyone Explain?/It All Begins And Ends With You

"The Soft Notes," (Bennie Benjamin and George Weiss) wrote the tune that they perform here in group harmony. The authors show a singing ability that matches their talents as scribes and will please ops with this biscuit. Over is a ballad that airs well. Ops will want to hear the "Explain" edge.

Windows Media Player:
Listen to "Can Anyone Explain (No! No! No!)" - The Soft Notes - Mercury 5464 - 1950.
Listen to "It All Begins And Ends With You" - The Soft Notes - Mercury 5464 - 1950.
BOTH played in sequence.

THE BILLBOARD, December 1950: ....Wait 'til you hear King Cole's new release, titled "Jet." Benjamin and Weiss wrote the lyrics to the Harvey Revel tune and when Cole heard it, he became so enthused he recorded it the next day. Walter Rivers flew the pressing out to the Capitol offices in California and pressings are due this week....

NEW YORK—The Benny Benjamin-George Weiss song-writing team, already booked as a night club act on the strength of their "Wheel Of Fortune" hit, has now become part of a recording trio. Derby Records disker of the original "Wheel" platter, this week cut another Benjamin and Weiss tune, and used the writers and Derby sales manager Phil Rose as a vocal trio.

The singers backed up chirp Bette McLaurin on the ditty "I May Hate Myself In The Morning." The tune was around some months ago and recorded at that time, but failed to create any big stir.

Listen to "I May Hate Myself In The Morning" - Bette McLaurin And Her Friends - Derby 790 - 1952. (Windows Media Player)

NEW YORK—Bennie Benjamin and George Weiss, having conquered the song writing field with such smashes as "Oh What It Seemed To Be," "I'll Never Be Free" and their current one "Wheel Of Fortune," are now a full fledged night club act.

It all happened this way: The boys were given a celebrity night a week ago Sunday at Leon and Eddie's in New York and in the course of the evening they were asked to get up on stage and play a few of their hits. They must have gone over big, because cafe owner Leonard Lipman of the Copa Lounge in Pittsburgh, who happened to be in the room at the time, signed them as a feature attraction for his club, opening next month.

Benjamin and Weiss were able to try out their act last week when they appeared before the boys at the U.S. Naval Hospital in St. Albans, Long Island. They were taken out by Stanley Feldman, juke box operator, who makes a habit of recruiting talent to entertain the vets.

The songwriting team were on stage for almost an hour and even after they had gone through one of their hits after another, the boys in the audience kept yelling for more.

PITTSBURGH COURIER, January 10, 1952:
Although undergoing terrific competition in the 1941-42 version of The Courier Band Contest, these men have emerged to date as among the leaders in their respective fields. Left to right are: Bennie Benjamin, composer of "I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire"; Count Basie, who leads the contest this week; and Erskine Hawkins, who is "right in there" fighting.

JET MAGAZINE, May 8, 1952:
Benny Benjamin, who with his partner, George Weiss, wrote the current hit tune, Wheel Of Fortune, gives personal supervision to recording of his new tune, Lonesome And Blue, which he hopes will also become a hit. The song was waxed for Coral Records by singer Joan Shaw backed by the Hal Singer orchestra.

(Above Left) NEW YORK AGE, October 10, 1953: MEN OF MUSIC George Weiss (left) and Benny Benjamin give dance guests rollicking sample of their work (at Gold Room of Savoy Plaza hotel in New York City). The two song writers have collaborated on many hit tunes.

(Above Middle) NEW YORK AGE, May 19, 1951: George Weiss and Bennie Benjamin.

(Above Right) PITTSBURGH COURIER, February 27, 1954: Bennie Benjamin and George Weiss.

NEW YORK AMSTERDAM NEWS, July 2, 1983: "GARDENS", the acclaimed Chanel No. 5 [perfume] television commercial, which features the song "I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire," was named the winner of the 1983 Eastman Kodak Award....This year a record total of 15,308 overall entries were judged. "I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire" is co-published by Bennie Benjamin Music which is administered by Chappel Music....from left: Mr. and Mrs. Bennie Benjamin (Mr. Benjamin is co-writer of the song), Maxyne Lang, Chappell's director of special projects, and Philip J. Naquin, vice-president of advertising, Chanel Inc.

Above: Both sides of Cosmo 504 released in August 1946. Benjamin-Weiss collaborated in writing two #1 hits in 1946, "Rumors Are Flying" (both the Les Paul and Frankie Carle versions reached #1) and "Surrender" (Perry Como reached #1). Other versions of "Rumors Are Flying" released in 1946 were by The Brown Dots, Andrews Sisters, Three Suns, Billy Butterfield, Betty Jane Rhodes, and Tony Martin.

Interestingly, the flip was not composed by them. Ben Ellison was a composer, who in 1945-46, also was general manager for Exclusive Records in Hollywood. In 1946-47, Ellison was owner of the Hollywood-International label. "I Left My Heart..." was released on Exclusive in 1946 by Herb Jeffries. It was also released by The Ginger Snaps on RCA Victor that year.

Listen to "I Left My Heart In Mississippi" - The Ginger Snaps - RCA Victor 20-1960 - 1946.

The Cash Box Review (9/30/46):

TWO TONES - COSMO 504.... Rumors Are Flying/I Left My Heart In Mississippi
A top treat is this offering of the soaring hit "Rumors Are Flying." Done by a pair of voices representing the dusky and the paleface, the boys combine to bring to the boxes where they like 'em soft and low a piece of wax that gives it to 'em just that way. Harmony tricks traded between the pair are worth listening to, and the customers will. Flipped, the boys do "I Left My Heart In Mississippi," that should have caught on many moons ago, and what they do for it helps bring the melody just that much closer to the hit parade. Give this platter an attentive listening. It's worth it.

Listen to this week's selections featuring The Two Tones on Cosmo 504 from 1946 using Windows Media Player:
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]

          1. Rumors Are Flying
          2. I Left My Heart In Mississippi
          BOTH played in sequence

     [To download audio files, right-click on link and then click "Save link (target) as..."]