In vaudeville, Shelton Brooks sang played piano, and did a Bert Williams impression. But it was as a songwriter that he made his longest, deepest mark. Familiar Shelton Brooks songs include “Some of These Days” (1911), which was to become Sophie Tucker’s theme song; “I Wonder Where My Easy Rider’s Gone?” (1913), memorably sung by Mae West in She Done Him Wrong; and his most widely covered tune “At the Darktown Strutter’s Ball” (1917). In the teens and twenties he was to perform in a number of musicals, including a couple of landmark African American shows produced by Lew Leslie: The Plantation Revue (with Florence Mills) and Dixie to Broadway (with Mills and Willie Covan). In the forties, he was a regular performer in Ken Murray’s Blackouts. He passed away in 1975 at the of 88.
To find out more about these variety artists and the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.