Thursday, July 21, 2016

William Axtman (William Arlington)

William Axtman
William Axtman (Connorized)

Born: 21 August 1891, New York City
Died: 24 July 1930, New York City
AKA: William Arlington
Labels: Connorized, Rythmodik

William Otto Axtman was born August 21, 1891 in NYC and was one of Connorized’s staff artists.  His father Otto was of German ancestry and worked as a letter carrier. His mother, Kate Worrs-De'Luc.

His WWI draft card lists his profession as ‘Musician – pianist for P. J. Harvey, 181 St & Boston Road’. Physical description is ‘tall, medium build’ with grey eyes and brown hair. (Harvey was Phillip John Harvey [1862-1939],  who ran a cafe at that address.)

Axtman’s style frequently uses rapid octave runs in the bass. The rolls credited as ‘played by Scott Joplin’ on the Connorized label exhibit these same traits, suggesting this embellishment was a Connorized 'house sound' rather than characteristic of the famous ragtime composer.

He also recorded a single roll for Rythmodik in 1917, and on the 8th of August that year married his first wife, Eleanor Wendelstorf.

In 1918 he lost his father Otto and younger brother Walter within months of each other, He departed Connorized in about 1920, and the Census of that year finds him listed with his wife Eleanor in Manhattan, working as a Victrola demonstrator. By 1924, as ‘Billy Axtman’, became part of a radio and vaudeville act with singer Fred Hughes - it was noted that Axtman himself had a singing voice of the 'highest quality'. He seems to have remarried around this time, as by the time of the New York state census in 1925 he is now living with Georgia Axtman, some years his junior, who is working as a singer. At some point he became connected with Irving Berlin, Inc. and then in June 1929 left to become assistant to the manager of Robbins Music Corp, about the same time his mother died.

The 1930 census shows him having married Georgia in 1924 and working as a pianist for a music publishing company. What carried him off at the sadly premature age of 38 has yet to be determined. He was laid to rest in the Woodlawn Cemetery in New York City.

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