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THE WHISTLER AND HIS DOG


by Ronald L. Smith

There isn't much video available on Officer Joe (except for "Stop Look and Laugh" of course) and he didn't make an album of his guitar playing. But for those who remember the theme song for his show, you can always enjoy: "The Whistler and His Dog."

The piece was written in 1905 by ARTHUR PRYOR (1870-1942), who was a trombonist/arranger in John Philip Sousa's band. The piece is available in various formats. I haven't heard all of these, so I don't know which most closely resembles the one Joe used with WPIX.

For those who want to play it on the piano, the sheet music version was evidently last published by Carl Fischer in 1932. The tune has been anthologized in music books many times and is probably easy to find at your local music store.

The earliest version of the tune was probably on an Edison Cylinder, as recorded by the Edison Military Band (EDISON 9107). It's available on a CD compilation of Edison cylinders available for about $15 from: P & L ANTIQUES AND COLLECTABLES, PO BOX 1461, ORANGEVALE, CALIFORNIA, 95662, OR PHONE 916-725-1764.

Many people recorded the tune on 78rpm, most notably the author himself: "The Whistler and His Dog," Arthur Pryor's Band (Victor 1913)

The piece turns up on the children's 78 rpm release "The Whistler and his Dog" from Red Raven, The Red Raven Orchestra; George S. Chase, Director, Morgan Development Laboratories. The amusing thing about this version is that the label had an image of a kid and his dog, and as the record label moved around, the image came to life (if you had a "magic mirror" carousel that you put over the spindle).

The cartoon below may take a while to animate, but it should work...you'll see what the kiddies saw as their record label revolved on the turntable reflected in the magic mirror. (If it doesn't, send your complaints to Netscape or Explorer).

The song was also recorded by the Black Diamonds Band (Zonophone 5274, in England).

For fans of 45's, try finding the Florian Zabach version, backed with "The Waltzing Cat" (DECCA 927729)

The tune is on many vinyl albums. I've only found one easy listening star who actually titled his album after it: Jack Zimmerann's "Whistler and his Dog." The song turns up played by George Wright on a pipe organ (!) on "The George Wright Sound" (HiFi Record R-710) and also appears on "PAUL LAVALLE in HI-FI" from RCA Victor (LPM-1516) released in 1957.

For those of you who want a modern recording on CD, you can find the tune as part of a medley on "Ceilidh Dances" - CDLOC1058/ZCLOC1058 from Bobby Harvey and his Ceilidh Band...

While the The Paragon Ragtime group (with conductor Rick Benjamin) performs it as the title tune on his CD - The Whistler and His Dog (NCD60069) from Newport Classic 11 Willow Street, Newport, RI 02840, Tel: (401) 848-2442. It's also on audio cassette.

The New Columbian Brass Band (George Foreman, Conductor) has it on a CD titled "The Teddy Bears Picnic" from Dorian Recordings, DOR 93201.

For those in Canada, try "Strict Tempo Ballroom Dancing, Volume 1" from Victor Silvester & his Orchestra ..(St.Clair / Castle CAS 72282). On that CD, the piece is called: "The Whistler and his Dog: St. Bernard's Waltz"