1923© Music by New Orleans Rhythm Kings
and Lyrics by Walter Melrose
Walter Melrose * ??
First recorded by the New
Orleans Rhythm Kings, Richmond, Indiana, March 12-13, 1923.
Said to be an early blues riff by legendary New Orleans cornetist Buddy
Petit, the theme was called 'Rusty Nail Blues' around New Orleans. The verse is
a 12 bar blues statement leading to the famous riff that is also a 12 bar blues
form. This is the melody that has been renamed a number of times: "Jazz Baby
Blues" in 1926, "Make Love To Me" in 1950 as recorded by Kay Starr.i1
Roof Cafe at Washington street and Claiborne Avenue in New Orleans was converted into a
vinegar factory around 1910. Tin Roof
Blues began life, according to George Brunies, as a routine the NORK often
did at the Friars' Inn. Their name for it was The Rusty Rail Blues until Walter Melrose came along looking for
publishable properties. "He liked the tune," Brunies said, "gave
us a $500 advance on it," and said `You don't mind if I do anything with it
do you?'" But he needed a better title, something evocative of New Orleans.
So they named it after the Tin Roof Cafe on Baronne Street Back home, later
known as the Suburban Gardens. They put all their names on it, "because we
didn't figure it was going to do anything." A generation later, with a new
title and lyric and an eight-bar release added, it hit the 1953 pop charts as Make
Love to Me (sang by Jo Stafford made it a second place in 1954) much to the
surprise of the surviving musicians--though the presence of eight names on the
composer credits (including that of Melrose) guaranteed that no one person would
get rich on royalties. Bill Norvas and Allan Copeland added the new lyric in
the melody of Tin Roof bears some
resemblance to one strain of Richard M. Jones's Jazzin' Babies Blues as recorded by King Oliver, it has been
suggested that NORK stole the number. NORK, however, recorded their tune first
and Jones did not copyright Jazzin' Babies
until early 1924. In any case, Tin Roof
and Jazzin' Babies are melodically
I have seen, the
bright lights burning up and down old Broadway,
Seen 'em in gay Havana, Burmingham, Alabama, and say,
they just can't compare with my hometown New Orleans,
'cause there you'll find the old Tin Roof Café,
where they play the blues 'til break of day.
Fascinatin' babies hangin' 'round,
dancin' to the meanest band in town,
Lawd, how they can play the blues.
and when that leader man starts playin' low,
folks get up and start to walk it slow,
Do a lot of movements hard to beat,
'til that old floorman says "Move your feet",
Lawd, I've got those Tin Roof Blues.
Ev'ry day, my baby writes to me and says, Daddy please,
don't keep your mamma grievin', tell me you'll soon be leavin' and please,
bring your dancin' shoes and come on back to me
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