Al Kohn, a 50-year veteran of the music industry, was Vice President, Licensing for Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., when he retired in 1993. Al is co-author of Kohn On Music Licensing, a 1,600-page treatise on the business and legal aspects of the music publishing business. USA Today called the book, "the bible of legal issues in the music world."
Prior to his 23-year association with Warner Bros., he served for over 11 years as the U.S. representative for the London-based Francis, Day & Hunter music publishing organization, developing acquisition patterns which moved them into the global pop music market. Prior to that Al was a member of the creative team at Hummert Radio Features and was the key arranger for some of the syndicate’s major network radio programs including Waltz Time and Manhattan Merry-Go-Round.
During World War II, Irving Berlin tapped Al to orchestrate his all-soldier show, This Is the Army. He also served as an arranger for orchestras, including those of Paul Whiteman, Abe Lyman, Ted Dale, Orrin Tucker and others, and arranged night club revues at Lou Walter’s Latin Quarter, Billy Rose’s Diamond Horseshoe, and the Steel Pier Music Hall. Later, he served as a television arranger for the Milton Berle, Katherine Murray, George Jessel, Martha Raye, and Jane Pickens shows. He also arranged or conducted for Bob Hope, Billy Rose, Jerry Vale, and many others.
We are pleased to announce the publication of the 4th Edition of Kohn On Music Licensing.
Bob and I have been humbled by the overwhelming response to the book since its original publication. Now widely considered "the bible" of music law, it has found a permanent place on the shelves of both professional music practitioners and newcomers to music law and copyright licensing.
But there have been profound changes in the music business--especially over the past two years--and we felt a substantial revision/update was in order. We are pleased to present the 4th Edition now available from Aspen Publishers.
We hope you find this new edition both useful and entertaining. In the meantime, drop us a note. We'd love to hear from you.
Al Kohn & Bob Kohn Kohn On Music Licensing
4th Edition of Kohn On Music Licensing
Born Albert Joseph Kohn on March 23, 1919, Al is the son of Frank and Ida Kohn. Frank was the son of Leopold and Rose Kohn; Ida, the daughter of Herman and Dora Cohen.
Al at 1 year old
Al's Parents - Frank & Ida Kohn
Al at 1 year w/ parents, Frank & Ida (1920)
Al at 4 years old (1923)
Ida Kohn, 1927
Ida & Frank, 1927 in Arverne
Frank Kohn, 1924
Ida & Frank at 50th Anniversay - June 10, 1967
Frank's Parents - Leopold & Rose Kohn
Leopold Kohn (Frank Kohn's father)
Rose Kohn (Frank Kohn's mother)
The Kohn and Diamant Families
From left to right, Leopold Kohn, Mark Kohn (Frank Kohn's brother), Harry Kohn (Frank's younger brother), Netty Kohn (Mark's wife), Frank, Mark Diamant (Phil's brother), Rose (Leopold's wife), Netty Kohn Wallack (Frank's sister), Reggie Kohn Werchez (Frank's sister), Tini Kohn Diamant (Frank's sister), Phil Diamant.
Frank Kohn was born October 10, 1892 at 155 2nd Avenue, New York. When the family bought a home and moved to 1490 Rosedale Ave., The Bronx, he attended P.S. 6 where he met Ida. He was a professional musician, having mastered the Violin and other stringed instruments such as the Guitar, Banjo, etc. He eventually made his living as a furrier, following in the footsteps of his father and older brother, Mark. He was a Charter Founding Member of his Masonic Lodge with other members of his family.
Ida Cohen was born May 30, 1896 at 2 West 118th Street New York and went to school at P.S. 184, 116th Street. When her family bought a home and moved to 1170 East 178th Street The Bronx, she met Frank at P.S. 6 and eventually married on June 10, 1917. She never worked, always remaining a housewife/mother of Al and Roy.
Ida's Parents - Herman & Dora Cohen
Ida's parents, Herman & Dora Cohen
Grandma Dora in August, 1933
Ida's brother Isadore Cohen & wife Faye
The Early Years
Al at 19-months old
Al at 4 years old
Al at 5 years old
Al at 6 years old
Al (7 years) with brother Roy at 18 months
When I was five years old, we lived at 2108 Daly Avenue, The Bronx, N.Y We then moved to 430 Beach 65th Street, Arverne, Long Island for three years, then back to 216 E. 183rd Street, The Bronx.So, at about 1928, when I was 9 years old, I started to take piano lessons.My piano teacher, Mr. Haas, owned the Harlem Conservatory of Music at 123rd Street & Lenox Avenue.I went to see him every Saturday.
216 E. 183rd Street in the Bronx was a walk-up apartment building--the building no longer exists, but was located right off the Grand Concourse.I remember when my parents bought me a baby grand piano. Getting it up the stairs was a problem;they had to take the windows out and hoist the piano up to the third floor.
Creston Junior High School
Al Kohn of The Crestonians, 1934 at Belvedere Hotel
At the age of 15, Al formed a jazz band called "The Crestonians," after Creston Junior High School. The band toured the Catskils during the mid-1930's, playing at several resorts, including The Belvedere Hotel... The photo to the right depicts Al in the summar of 1934, proudly displaying the band's instruments and a plaque, "Albert Kohn - The Crestonians."
From left to right: TBD (sax), Dutch Adler (trumpet), TBD (sax) Greenberg (trumpet), Roy Hammerslag (Sax), Jack Messing (bass), TBD (drums), Al Kohn (leader, arranger), TBD (Violin), Ralph Kessler (piano) (later worked with Mitch Lee on Man of La Mancha), TBD (guitar).
DeWitt Clinton High School
Al's High School Photo
While at DeWitt Clinton High School (1934-37), I conducted a 28-piece orchestra, and arranged all of the music in three Senior Prom Shows, which I produced with my friend Stubby Kaye (at that time, Bernard Kotzin). Stubby later went on to enjoy a successful singing and acting career, starring in the movie, Guys and Dolls with Marlin Brando and Frank Sinatra, and Cat Balou with Lee Marvin and Nat King Cole. In addition, the Crestonians played at the 7th and 8th term dances.
Program from Class Night - January 22, 1937
It was at the time of my graduation from High School I decided to take the subway into town and visit and visit the offices of music publishers, bandleaders and musicians to grub fordance orchestrations for “The Crestonians,” as the few attempts I made to write my own arrangements wasn’t enough for the amount of work we were doing.
I managed to meet some very helpful people in the music publishing business.Irving Berlin’s secretary started me off with six “stock” orchestrations of Berlin’s new publications. (We are to again meet again later on).
While visiting offices of bandleaders and music publishers, scrounging for free stock orchestrations for "The Crestonians," I met and became very friendly with Chick Adams, arranger for Abe Lyman's radio shows in 1934, never dreaming that I would later arrange for Abe Lyman himself. While in high school, I modeled a photograph taken of me (see below) after that of the famous bandleader.
Abe Lyman - Band Leader
Al Kohn - Band Leader
Ben Yost Singers
Upon my high school graduation in 1936, Chick Adams recommended me to Ben Yost, who was in the market for an arranger for his many vocal groups--including, "Ben Yost's Varsity Eight," "Ben Yost's Royal Guards," etc., never dreaming that I would someday (1940) become Chick's assistant arranger on the radio shows, "Waltz Time" and "Manhattan Merry-Go-Round."
“The copyright owner of The Student Prince sued the owner of a cabaret in New York City called The Harem (owned, incidentally, at that time by Lou Walters, the father of newscaster, Barbara Walters) for infringement based upon performances at the club of a medley of songs from The Student Prince. The nightclub owner claimed the performance was licensed under the club’s standard blanket license from ASCAP. The court ruled, correctly in our view, that the performance was covered by the ASCAP license and that the medley did not infringe the musical play, The Student Prince. This decision has been criticized as too narrowly construing the scope of the term dramatic performance. A close review of the facts reveals this criticism is misplaced.
“The medley of songs from The Student Prince was performed by the choral group, Ben Yost and his Royal Guardsmen, which was the ninth act in a ten act nightclub show entitled, ‘‘The One Thousand and Second Night.’’ The show was not connected by a story line or plot and the medley was just one of the numbers performed by the Royal Guardsmen, a small part of their act. The stage had no scenery and the act was performed in front of the nightclub stage curtain. The Royal Guardsmen did wear costumes — white outfits with fanciful short, red formal jackets. Nevertheless, neither the costumes nor the visual presentation bore any resemblance to the distinctive scenery or costume used in the presentation of the musical play, The Student Prince. Finally, the medley was truly a medley; no song from The Student Prince was sung in its entirety. I can confirm this because, I worked for Ben Yost at the time and I personally arranged the medley that was the subject of this lawsuit. I testified before the Judge in the case that the medley comprised mostly the refrains of songs from the show connected by transitions that I composed.”
Ben Yost and The Royal Guards
While I was still doing work for the Ben Yost Singers, Chick Adams called me and told me there is a place for me at Abe Lyman’s office if I was interested. I started there in April 1940.
Abe Lyman (August 4, 1897 - October 23, 1957) was a popular bandleader from the 1920s to the 1940s. He made recordings, appeared in films and provided the music for numerous radio shows, including Your Hit Parade. Abe learned to play the drums when he was young, and at the age of 14 he had a job as a drummer in a Chicago café. During the 1930s, the Lyman Orchestra was heard regularly on such shows as Accordiana and Waltz Time. When Lyman was 50 years old, he left the music industry and went into the restaurant business, operating Mike Lyman' Grill in Hollywood. He died in Beverly Hills, California at the age of 60.
Abe Lyman Orchestra in 1920's
The clip on the right, “A Band in a Box,” is from the 1930’s film, Paramount On Parade. After brief comic opening, it features the song, “Dancing To Save My Souls” performed by the Abe Lyman Orchestra and Nancy Carroll.
Al Kohn in 1940
The pass to the left was my admission to the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair. The Abe Lyman Orchestra was featured at Billy Rose's Barbary Coast Restaurant at the Fair. One day, Billy Rose balled me out for something and when Abe Lyman heard about it, he went over to Billy, picked him up off the ground by his collar (Abe towered over him) and warned, “Never yell at Al Kohn again.” You can be sure I never had trouble again from Billy Rose!
Hummert Radio Features
Anne & Frank Hummert
Frank and Anne Ashenhurst (later, Hummert), partners in the Blackett-Sample-Hummert advertising agency set out in 1933 to create daytime radio shows. Their first success was Just Plain Bill, followed by Ma Perkins, Backstage Wife and Young Widder Brown. After the couple’s marriage in 1935, they moved to New York and launched Air Radio Features Inc., a radio production house. Air Radio Features produced many popular radio drama series, including Amanda of Honeymoon Hill, Little Orphan Annie, and Our Gal Sunday. At one point they had as many as 18 separate 15-minute serials airing for a total of 90 episodes a week. By 1939, the Hummert's programs were responsible for more than half the advertising revenues generated by daytime radio.
The Abe Lyman Orchestra was regularly featured on the Hummert’s radio programs.As music arranger on the Hummert’s musical shows, I was responsible, along with other arrangers, such as Chick Adams, to also see that the music got to the Studios. In addition to Waltz Time, some of the other musical shows we had that I worked on were: Wednesday-Merry-Go-Round, Mystery Theater, Mr. Chameleon and The American Album of Familiar Music. The American Album of Familiar Music, featured Frank Munn, “the golden voice of radio.”
Abe Lyman’s office was down the hall from the Hummerts. Mickey Scopp was President of Air Features Inc. which was the “working arm” of the Hummert organization, such as finances, hiring actors for the soaps, etc.Mickey Scopp’s office was next door to Lyman’s office. Mickey and I became very friendly.
Meeting Edna Stein
A few weeks after I started working for Abe Lyman in 1940, Ben Yost called to asked me if I would go down to Baltimore where one of his groups was doing a show at the Hippodrome Theater, and let him know how they were doing. Chick and I used to alternate by taking alternate Sundays off from going to the Studio for “Manhattan-Merry-Go-Round,” so one of those Sundays I took a train to Baltimore. After seeing the afternoon show, I made the 5PM train back to Penn Station New York.
On the train, I was carrying my Model 90 Kodak 8mm camera, which I left on my seat while I went into the rest room. Upon my return, the girl I was sitting with could not understand how I could leave my camera with a stranger. I told her, the train was moving, where could anyone go? I hadn’t eaten all day so I decided to go into the Dining Car for Dinner.I had ordered my dinner and, while eating, the girl came into the Dining Car and sat down at another table. The Car was practically empty, so I invited her over to my table where she ordered Apple Pie. We spoke almost to New York, and I asked her if she was free the next Friday, would she like to go to the Radio City Music Hall. She accepted, and I told her to meet at the downstairs entrance to the NBC Studios. I think she was surprised when I brought her upstairs to Studio 3E and sat her in the Control Room. The orchestra thought she was Mrs. Ann Hummert.
She was staying with an aunt somewhere in Queens. All I can remember was it took me all night to get to my home in The Bronx. We met a few more times.
Edna Stein in 1941
Al Kohn in 1941
World War II
Chick Adams left the Lyman Office and lived in an apartment in New Jersey near the George Washington Bridge, where he was doing some photography work. He invited me one Sunday for dinner, and I invited Edna to join me. While having our coffee, there was an announcement over the radio that Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese.
I was drafted and landed at CampCroft, Spartanburg, SC.
Edna went home to Baltimore for awhile before she took a job at The Federal Housing Administration in Washington, DC, living at the home of friends who also worked at the Administration. I visited her several times in Baltimore and Washington.
This Is The Army
In 1942, through the efforts of Abe Lyman, I was transferred from Camp Croft to Broadway were Irving Berlin offered me a position as an arranger for his all-soldier show, “This Is The Army.” I was stationed at 165 Broadway, New York, in the “Special Services” office, together with Samuel Barber, the well known composer,and Harry Goodman (Benny’s brother). The show ran at the Broadway Theatre from July 4, 1942 through September 26, 1942.
Army Music School - Fort Meyer, VA
Al Kohn (24) at Army Music School - 1943
Anticipating the closing of the show, l applied for a position as Bandleader. Having passed a lengthy examination, I was assigned to the Army Music School, Fort Meyer, VA. My assignment there afforded Edna and I the opportunity to see each other more often.
l was scheduled to be assigned to the Glenn Miller Band (later lost in the War), but because of a mix up with another soldier I ended up with my own Army Band, the 393rd Army Air Forces Band, assigned to the Syracuse Air Force Base, Syracuse, New York.
Fellow Graduate, Carmine Cappola (age 32)
The above photograph, taken on April 13, 1943, is of the 7th Class Band Leader Graduates of the U.S. Army Music School. One of the graduates of my class was Carmine Cappola, the famous composer and father of film director, Francis Ford Cappola.
Roy was drafted in 1943 and sent to Fort Bragg, North Carolina for training. He became a gunner on 105 Howitzer. Years ago, our uncle Hy was a member of the American Legion at post known as The Unknown Soldier Post. They started a drum and bugle corps and Roy was asked to join. Our cousin Leonard (Hy's son) played the drum and Roy played the trumpet, often called upon to play taps at memorial services and funerals. After six months of training at Fort Bragg, Roy was getting close to being shipped overseas when I recalled that Roy was "Qualified Drum Major and Buglar." I put in a request, under an Army Memorandum dated October 16, 1942, "For assignment of Individual Enlisted Service Men for service" to have Roy assigned to my unit. By Command of The Adjudant General, the transfer was approved. Roy arrived at the Syracuse Air Depot on June 12, 1943. We were stationed there until the 393rd Army Band was moved to the Rome Air Depot in Rome, New York. On February 27, 1945, Roy shipped off to Europe on the U.S.S. Aquitania, a sister ship of the Lusitania and Titanic. Roy was wounded in the war and was in the Army hospital in Bristol, England when he received a telegram on June 29, 1945, that our first son Teddy was born. Roy shipped back to the states on July 20, 1945.
Army Air Depot - Rome, NY
Upon Roy’s arrival, he became Drum Major and bugler, along with twenty five former members of the professional “This Is The Army” orchestra, who also soon arrived. (How did he do it?) It wasn’t long before the “finest Band in the Air Force,” according to the Head Band Official in WashingtonDC, was officiating at Al and Edna’s Wedding at the Post Chapel in Rome, NY.
Warrant Officer Al Kohn
Frances Day & Hunter
Letter from Mickey Scopp appointing me U.S. representative for Francis, Day & Hunter
Mickey Scopp discovered that, by moving me from Robbins music--which was owned at the time by MGM (as part of the Robbins-Feist-Miller Publishing Group, also known as “The Big 3”)--to Francis, Day & Hunter, I would not be eligible for the MGM pension plan. So FD&H paid Robbins Music, who paid me. Once, at the end of the year, FD&H sent me a $500 Christmas bonus, and Robbins also gave me a $500 Christmas bonus. When I called Scopp’s attention to that, he said, “So enjoy it.”
Robbins Music had box seats at Shea Stadium; Mickey and his wife often invited Edna and I for dinner at the Shea Stadium Diamond Club prior to the NY Mets game. We would then end up at Mickey’s house in Forest Hills after the game for ice cream. We had a great relationship, both professionally and personally.
The Record Mirror, London - January 17, 1959
Variety - January 28, 1959
Sporting Review (London) - January 28, 1959
To read an article, just click on it.
Francis, Day & Hunter
Fred Day & wife Doris
Old man Fred Day and his wife, Doris had visited us in New York a number of times. Edna and I had elegant dinners with them.
Fred's son, Eddie Day, and I went on several trips to Europe. Eddie wanted his son, David, to “learn more about the business in America,” so he sent David to the New York and he used my office.
David Day and I had a great time while he was in New York. We would meet with Roy at Jack Dempsey’s Restaurant daily for lunch, and Edna and I once had him over to our apartment where Edna cooked him dinner. David stayed in the U.S. for a year. I ran into him at the Lamb's Club a couple of years ago (2007). He lives in London and often comes to New York where he has an apartment.
AL KOHN (from Kohn On Music Licensing): Murry Wilson, not to be outdone by his sons Brian, Carl, and Dennis’s success as The Beach Boys, embarked on his own career as a songwriter and conductor of a studio size orchestra in his own album, released by Capitol Records in 1967. The album was entitled, ‘‘The Many Moods of Murry Wilson.’’Aiming at a global play, I set in motion on behalf of Francis, Day & Hunter, the publishing organization which handled Wilson’s music interests and subpublishing for The Beach Boys’ Sea of Tunes catalog, a campaign to help promote his music and album in Europe. Prior to a three week visit to each of the subpublisher’s offices in London and on the European continent, I arranged for a roundtable promotional meeting, at the George V Hotel in Paris, of all the subpublisher’s European branch managers, together with 90-year old Mr. Fred Day, his son Eddie Day, Director, and his son, David Day. [The meeting was memorialized by the photograph below.]
Murry & Audrey Wilson - father & mother of Brian, Carl & Dennis Wilson of The Beach Boys
"The meeting afforded Wilson the opportunity to meet the heart and soul of Francis, Day & Hunter, as well as each branch manager prior to the promotional campaign to Copenhagen, Stockholm, London, Hamburg, Berlin, Rome, and Milan. Now, eventually, Wilson’s album didn’t top the charts, but the meeting had the affect of satisfying Wilson that his subpublisher had the talent and enthusiasm to effectively represent his new compositions, as well as those in the Sea of Tunes catalog. Meanwhile, Francis, Day, knowing the importance of the Beach Boys catalog to their business, seized the opportunity to show Murry Wilson who they were and what they could do."
Warner Bros. Music | 1972-1992
Off-Site Meeting in 1979 at Caneel Bay in St. John, Virgin Islands -- On top from left to right: Ed Heine (Managing Director, WB Music Germany), Peter Reichardt (Managing Dir., WBM Int'l), Al Kohn (VP Copyright & Licensing), Lennart Desmond (WB Music, Sweden), Mel Bly (COO), Michael Sandoval (L.A. Professional Dept), Ed Silvers (CEO), Stephen-Craig Aristei (L.A. Professional Dept.), Jim Stabile (L.A. Professional Dept.), Vittorio Somalvico (Managing Director, WB Music Italy), James Cornelius (CFO), Bill Fleming (Managing Director, WB Music Australia), Tim Wipperman (WB Music, Nashville). Bottom: Rob Dickins (Managing Director WB Music U.K.), Henry Marks (NY Professional Dept.), Leonard Golove (General Counsel), Jean Davoust (Managing Director, WB Music France), Julie Lipsius (General Manager, WB Music France)