History

1940’s

TRO Essex Music Group was founded in 1949 by music industry legend Howie Richmond. Richmond (a former press agent for soon-to-be legendary clients Glenn Miller, Frank Sinatra, Dinah Shore, the Andrews Sisters, Woody Herman, Gene Krupa and Larry Clinton) decided to focus on his passion for music  and create what would become one of the largest independent publishing companies in the music business. TRO Essex would bridge the post World War II American sound of Tin Pan Alley standards with early rock n roll and help introduce some of the greatest folk songwriters to American popular music.

In 1949, Cromwell Music, Inc. opened for business on West 57th Street in New York City. Working on the firm’s very first song, Richmond persuaded renowned bandleader Guy Lombardo to record the rhythm novelty HOP SCOTCH POLKA for Decca Records. The record reached the #16 slot on the best-selling charts. Songwriters soon flocked to the hot new publisher. With activities developing on many fronts, Richmond restructured his firm under the banner of The Richmond Organization (or simply TRO) and began working with Mitch Miller and other record producers who were turning to TRO for new material. 

 

 

1950’s

The company surged into the 1950s, propelled by its second number one hit GOODNIGHT IRENE, which catapulted folk quartet The Weavers into stardom. Guy Mitchell’s recording of THE ROVING KIND was the next big success, and when Phil Harris’s recording of THE THING topped the charts in December 1950, TRO had found a special place in the music publishing world.

In the next decade the catalog would chart more than 40 times with 13 top five hits, including: WIMOWEH (The Weavers/1950), MUSIC! MUSIC! MUSIC! (Teresa Brewer/1950), ON TOP OF OLD SMOKEY (The Weavers, 1951), SO LONG IT’S BEEN GOOD TO KNOW YUH (The Weavers/1952); BOTCH A ME (Rosemary Clooney/1952) ANNA (Silvano Mangano/1952), A GUY IS A GUY (Doris Day/1952), I BELIEVE (Frankie Laine/1952), BAND OF GOLD (Don Cherry/1956), ROCK ISLAND LINE (Lonnie Donegan/1956), KISSES SWEETER THAN WINE (Jimmie Rodgers/1957), TOM DOOLEY (Kingston Trio/1958).

Also in the 1950s, two very important songs were being published by TRO. These songs would prove lasting anthems of American popular music: THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND (Woody Guthrie) and FLY ME TO THE MOON (IN OTHER WORDS) (Bart Howard).

With the momentum of TRO’s success in the United States, Richmond moved to set up international music publishing companies, hoping to develop new repertoire from every source possible. England was the first stop, with France, Italy and Germany to follow. By the early 1960s, TRO had a presence in every major market around the world.

 

1960's

In 1960, London had become the new hot spot for popular music and TRO was at the forefront. Skiffle music, a British interpretation of traditional folk music, enjoyed major popularity in England in the early sixties and British songwriter Lonnie Donegan scored impressive hits with the Lead Belly songs ROCK ISLAND LINE and MIDNIGHT SPECIAL. With its vast folk repertoire as a vital source of music, TRO’s international affiliate, Essex Music, attracted many young musicians, such as Pete Townshend, Justin Hayward, Syd Barrett and Charles Aznavour.

Meanwhile, in the US, the 1960s were a time of protest, and WE SHALL OVERCOME became the rallying cry for the Civil Rights Movement. Other protest songs were also published by TRO, including IF I HAD A HAMMER (THE HAMMER SONG) written by Lee Hays and Pete Seeger, which Trini Lopez and Peter, Paul and Mary both recorded and charted with. Folk rock was born when the Byrds recorded Pete Seeger’s TURN! TURN! TURN! (TO EVERYTHING THERE IS A SEASON), which hit number one on the Billboard charts and is one of the enduring anthems from the civil rights era.

Other hit recordings from the 1960s include: ARE YOU LONESOME TONIGHT (Elvis Presley/1960), THE MADISON TIME (Ray Bryant/1960), MY KIND OF GIRL (Matt Monro/1961), COTTON FIELDS (THE COTTON SONG) (The Highwaymen/1962), MIDNIGHT IN MOSCOW (Kenny Ball/1962), WHAT KIND OF FOOL AM I? (Sammy Davis, Jr./1962), FLY ME TO THE MOON (Joe Harnell/1963), WE SHALL OVERCOME (Joan Baez/1963), AS TEARS GO BY (Marianne Faithfull/1965; Rolling Stones/1966), and MY GENERATION (The Who/1966).

In addition to the pop, rock and folk success, TRO expanded its catalog working with the top theater talent of the day. In June 1960, Lionel Bart’sOliver! opened at the New Theatre in London, and three years later started its historic run on Broadway. The production would go on to win the Tony Award for Best Original Score, and in 1968, the film version would win six Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

In 1962, Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley’s musical Stop the World—I Want to Get Off opened at the Shubert Theater on Broadway. They followed that success with The Roar of the Greasepaint—The Smell of the Crowd, which contained the hit song FEELING GOOD. In 1964 Hugh Martin and Timothy Gray’s production of High Spirits opened at the Alvin Theatre, and in 1966 Oscar Brand and Paul Nassau’s A Joyful Noise opened at the Mark Hellinger Theatre. Another Oscar Brand production, How to Steal an Election, opened at the Pocket Theater in 1968.

The decade closed with Howie Richmond, Johnny Mercer and Abe Olman establishing the National Academy of Popular Music and Songwriters Hall of Fame, to honor songwriters for their lifetime contributions to popular music. 

 

1970’s

The 1970s opened with hit songs on both sides of the Atlantic includingCARRY IT ON (Joan Baez/1970), PARANOID (Black Sabbath/1970), QUESTION (Moody Blues/1970), A WHITER SHADE OF PALE (RB Greaves/1970), ONLY YOU (Ringo Starr/1975), THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS LOVE (Carmen Macrae/1973), VIVA TIRADO (El Chicano/1970), NIGHTS IN WHITE SATIN (The Moody Blues/1972), SPACE ODDITY (David Bowie/1973), BLACK BETTY (Ram Jam/1977), DOWN TO ZERO (Joan Armatrading), STREETS OF LONDON (Ralph McTell) and BUT YOU KNOW I LOVE YOU (The First Edition).

In 1973, Pink Floyd’s album Dark Side of the Moon was released in the United States. The album because an instant classic, quickly rising to number one on the charts. The album produced the hit single MONEY and has remained on the charts for over 40 years. With the publishing catalog flourishing, Essex UK opened its own studio to record and capture the writers phenomenal talent.

Essex label Straight Ahead Productions recorded and charted such great acts as Joe Cocker (WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS and WOMAN TO WOMAN), Marc Bolan and T Rex (BANG A GONG (GET IT ON), HOT LOVE, RIDE A WHITE SWAN), Procol Harum (CONQUISTADOR, A WHITER SHADE OF PALE), The Move (BLACKBERRY WAY, FLOWERS IN THE RAIN) and Rocky Burnette (TIRED OF TOEIN THE LINE).

In the mid-1970s, TRO also acquired the Words & Music, Inc. Catalog, which included some of the most enduring standards from Tin Pan Alley, such as GYPSY IN MY SOUL and DREAM A LITTLE DREAM OF ME

 

1980’s

The 1980s opened with Rocky Burnette’s recording of TIRED OF TOEIN’ THE LINE reaching number six on the Billboard charts. Dolly Parton’s cover recording of BUT YOU KNOW I LOVE YOU also reached the top forty on the pop charts. Traffic also had success with SMILING PHASES and HOLE IN MY SHOE, and Ozzy Osbourne’s solo career was a runaway success with the hit songs STEAL AWAY (THE NIGHT), NO BONE MOVIES and GOODBYE TO ROMANCE from his 1981 release with Randy Rhoads.

In 1983, Howie Richmond received the Songwriters Hall of Fame Publisher of the Year Award. In 1988 Lead Belly was inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. On Broadway, Oliver! was revived in London in 1983 and in 1984 at the Mark Hellinger Theater. Off Broadway productions were also successful with Will Holt and Gary Friedman’s 1983 production Taking My Turn and Oscar Brand’s The Education of H*Y*M*A*N  K*A*P*L*A*N.

 

1990’s

The 1990’s opened with a new sample recording of the Gerald Wilson song VIVA TIRADO. The sample, entitled LA RAZA, was recorded by Kid Frost and would reach #1 on the Billboard hot 100. Another number one single was created when Tupac recorded a sample of the Joe Cocker song WOMAN TO WOMAN in his new work CALIFORNIA LOVE. The single was released in December 1995 and reached #1 on the hot rap charts and it remains one of Tupac’s best known works. In 1998, a little-known but highly acclaimed children’s songbook, Lullabies And Night Songs by Alec Wilder and Bill Engvick, inspired singer Shawn Colvin to perform many of its songs in her 1998 Christmas recording Holiday Songs And Lullabies.

While the TRO Essex catalog continues to have success through its cover recordings and sample placements, in the mid 1990s the music industry began to confront a sea change in to the way songwriters’ catalogs are promoted and licensed. In the late 1990s, Pete Townshend's catalog was one of the first of a major rock songwriter to be featured prominently in some of the top film and commercial usages available: I CAN SEE FOR MILES (Apollo 13/1995), MAGIC BUS (National Lampoon’s Senior Trip/1995), A QUICK ONE WHILE HE’S AWAY (Rolling Stone Rock & Roll Circus/1996), MAGIC BUS (Jerry Maguire/1996), A QUICK ONE WHILE HE’S AWAY (Rushmore/1998), MAGIC BUS (Dell/1999), MY GENERATION (Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me), I CAN SEE FOR MILES (American Airline/2001).

 

2000's

With the new millennium, a new frontier for music publishing arrived. In the early years of the decade TRO found great success with its back catalog being used in hit samples by a variety of artists: Jay Z, G Unit, Fat Boy Slim, Notorious B.I.G, Mary J. Blige, Ludacris, Shooter Jennings, Ying Yang Twin featuring Wyclef Jean, Black Eyed Peas, Eminem, Fabolous, Kanye West, Flo Rida, Eric Church, Nicki Minaj and Beyonce.

With the dawn of the digital age and new multimedia platforms for songwriter exposure being developed every day, the rebranded TRO Essex Music Group is now poised to be a leader among independents worldwide and is dedicated to helping our songwriters achieve direct source relationships, commission-free licensing, revitalized promotion and experienced copyright administration.