About The Artist
He was Urban A. Sigl, born to parents Westley and Anna Sigl in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He became a musician (accordion) and songwriter under the name of Irving Siegel.
An old article indicates that as he was growing up, he 'blew out' one harmonica after another. Then he got a six key toy accordion. Music seemed to just be part of his life. He developed his musical skills, honing his skills on one accordion after another. In 1927, he got his first piano-keyed instrument, something he had wished for but his parents could not afford.
In October of 1938, Irving was working out of the Hollywood office of 20th Century Music Co. Research shows he was constantly on the move during his career.
For a time, he played at various taverns, but the lifestyle did not suit him. It made an impact on him — as he grew up he never used tobacco or drank alcoholic beverages.
One of the taverns he played at was Sigl's Tavern in downtown Marshfield, Wisconsin. It was owned by Westley Sigl, Irving's father. He first operated a tavern in Green Bay (where Irving was born) for about 15 years. Then he moved to Marshfield where he operated Sigl's Tavern for over 30 years at 201 N. Central Avenue in Marshfield. Later, two barbers rented space in the back of the tavern. His father died on November 20, 1942 at the age of 69.
He was a all of five feet 7 and a half inches tall, weighing about 145 pounds. By the time he was 27 years old, he had put together 14 scrap books of newspaper clippings and other publicity about his appearances around the country.
While the text was hard to decipher from the little cartoon in the ad above, we were able to enlarge it enough to make a pretty good translation: "Tim gets the Pig Pen Paving Contract, Gus gets the Office of Official Egg Hunter, The Potato Bug Milling contract goes to Dave and his gang. Bill gets the Milk Inspector Job and etc. etc."
Irving seemed to be an artist always on the move. While he shows up in publications, it is often just small tidbits of where he is playing or a song being plugged. Once in a while some details surface. Billboard reported in April 1944 that he had a group called the Western Ramblers. His group included Willie Barfield, a singer. Willie's brother was Johnny Barfield, a Victor-Bluebird recording artist. A few years later in 1951, Irving was doing appearances with Willie (Coot) Barfield who played the guitar as well as fiddle, bass and washboard. Willie's daughter was Becky Barfield was a singer and was doing movie shorts with Spade Cooley's band.
He arrived on the Florida scene it appears in May of 1945. A "Personal Mentions" column in the Miami News told readers he was on a tour and had composed songs such as "Florida, My Sunny, Florida" and "I'm That Way About You." It said he was an experienced band leader and as a song publisher, had offices in New York, Chicago and Miami. In June 1945, Billboard was reporting Irving was at the Alibi Night Club in Miami.
Dorothy Raymer told readers of her Miami News column in April 1946 that Irving was appearing at the "Singing Bar." At that club, Billboard reported in 1946 that the lobby displayed his compositions along with photograhs. His songbook was getting national distribution. Songs included were "Mem'ries of Mother," "Montana Moon," "Idaho Moon" and "It Seems Like I've Know You Forever." By September, he was appering at the "Jungle Club."
In 1946, National Hillbilly News published a photo with a small caption of information. He was working "solo in the best night club spots in Miami." He also had his own publishing company, Iriving Siegel Music Publications in Miami, FL.
While in Florida, the same magazine told readers he was heading up the Gene Autry Fan Club and could write him there. It appears that Irving wrote a song called "Montana Moon" that was sung by Gene Autry. An article we found indicated that Irving had turned over the song to the McDaniel Music Company.
In 1947, he toured with the Rouse Brothers, Bluebird recording artists.
1948 saw him touring with Jack Pierce's National Radio Jamboree. It was a group of acts that put on a one and a half hour show as they went from town to town. The early shows included the original Oklahoma Cowboys. Other artists were Irving Siegel, The Tennessee Barn Dance Gang, Murphy Sisters, The Kentucky Girls, "Sparkie" the Guitar Wizard, Walther Hughes, Ezra, clown prince of comedy. The show was usually followed by four hours of "fun and dancing." While he was on that tour, he spent some time on KNEB in Scotts Bluff, Nebraska.
But as traveled as he was, as much as he was in the news whether through appearances or promoting songs, one wonders if it was financially successful for him. A story found in August of 1949 in Terre Haute, Indiana. The story leads by implying he was of Bristol, Tennessee. The police took Irving Siegel into custody "...whil trying to sell sheet music from door to door. His actions aroused suspicions." His activity was probably seen as unsual to those encountered. He had arrived in Terre Haute by bus and checked a musical instrument at the bus station. He was short of funds so he started to sell sheet music door to door to raise some funds. He told police he had been traveling with a band of musicians. Research shows he had been with Jack Pierce's National Radio Jamboree.
In 1950, classified ads were found in newspapers indicating that Irving was trying to sell sheet music - usually 21 songs for $1.00. Perhaps he had too much inventory. Or perhaps he was just always trying to find a way to sell himself and his music.
in 1951, he was touring with Tex Cooper and the Blue Bonnet Players. They had just finished a gig on KBOR in Brownsville, TX at the end of 1950. They were touring Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. In January he said their group was booked solid through May 1951. Plans were for a summer tour through Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. That group included Irving Siegel (accordion), Banjo Annie (singer), Willie (Coot) Barfield (bass fiddle) and Cactus Tom (rhythm guitar).
We found quite a few songs in our collection that Irving was the sole author or was a co-writer. Cowboy Music World magazine named him to its Songwriters Hall of Fame for having written over 100 songs in 1944/1945. By 1946, he had made the list for having written over 500 tunes.
Other tunes credited to him were listed in various columns that usually just informed readers of the latest songs written by a person. Some of the tunes credit to Irving included: "Since Then,"A Blue Song That Made Me Happy"," "My Dreams Of 100 Girls," "Memories of Mother," ""Hillbilly Serenade," "Hootin' With My Hootin' Annie" "Sunrise With You," "When The Dear Old Springtime Comes Again," "Oh, Pete!," "God Bless Those Buddies Of Mine," "Rhythm Waltz,"
Mr. Siegel had maintained homes in California and Florida. He returned to Marshfield, Wisconsin in April 1956. He was suffering from the effects of a brain tumor and was ill for nearly a year. He passed away shortly after New Year's 1957. While born in Green Bay, he lived his youth in Marshfield and graduated from St. John's Parochial School and Senior High School. He was survived by his mother, Ann and six sisters and four brothers. He was single.
Credits & Sources
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