First published in 1930, “Them There Eyes” was written by Maceo Pinkard and Doris Tauber, with lyrics by William Tracey. While Louis Armstrong recorded a version in 1931, Billie Holiday’s 1939 recording for Vocation Records made it famous and established it as a jazz standard.
Maceo Pinkard (Jun 27, 1897 – Jul 21, 1962) was a composer, lyricist, bandleader, and music publisher, who is also known for writing “Sweet Georgia Brown” (1925) with Ben Bernie, with lyrics by Kenneth Casey. Pinkard was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984. He had moved to New York City from Bluefield, West Virginia in 1919, where he met Duke Ellington at Barron’s Nightclub and introduced him to the music publishing district (Tin Pan Alley). Each year since his death, Bluefield State College, his Alma mater, has held a week-long festival in his honor.
Doris Tauber (Sep 13, 1908 – Jan 1, 1996) was Irving Berlin’s secretary, appeared at Town Hall when she was 17 years old and had her own radio program between the ages of 18 and 20.
William Tracey (Jul 19, 1883 – Sep 5, 1957) began his career as a staffer for a number of publishing companies, where he worked with various composers, eventually focusing on writing lyrics. He was a charter member of ASCAP and was Maceo Pinkard’s most frequent collaborator. He co-hosted a radio show in 1926 with Dan Dougherty, with whom he had worked since 1922. In the 1940s he wrote radio plays for Shapiro, Bernstein & Co, with titles based on popular songs.
Notes: Pinkard wrote and produced the Broadway show “Liza”, the first all-black show to play on Broadway during the regular season; it ran for 172 performances at a time when 100 performances were considered good.
Doris Tauber’s son, Anthony Gribin, wrote “The Complete Book of Doo Wop” in 1992. His biography of his mother was entitled “Them There Eyes”:
William Tracey went on stage as a singer in 1921 with “A Trip to Hitland”, featuring songwriters performing their hits.