The Life and Music of Jimmy McHugh

This presentation by Richard Vacca, author of The Boston Jazz Chronicles, looks at the career of songwriter Jimmy McHugh, who was born in Jamaica Plain in 1894 and grew up there.

Vacca describes the McHugh family and his boyhood, his job as an office boy and then publicist at the Boston Opera House, working as a piano man on Revere Beach, and his days as a “song plugger” for the Boston office of songwriter Irving Berlin.

The the narrative continues in New York City, where McHugh moved in 1920, including his time working for Mills Music, singing in a duo with Irving Mills, writing for the Cotton Club stage shows, and writing Broadway shows with lyricist Dorothy Fields.

McHugh moved on to Hollywood in 1930, and Vacca runs through McHugh’s work in films with lyricists Fields, Frank Loesser, Johnny Mercer, and Hal Adamson. Finally, the circle is completed with McHugh’s return to Boston in 1948 with his stage show, As the Girls Go.

Audio (approximately 60 mins):  listen