From “Wood Board” to “Bill-Board” Jerome Remick -The First “Motown Music Publisher”

When you think of New York City music publishers, “Tin Pan Alley” immediately comes to mind. When you think of music publishers in Detroit, “Hitsville U.S.A, The Motown Sound” immediately strikes a familiar chord. However, in 1905, the Jerome Remick Music Publishing Company of Detroit was selling over a million copies of individual sheet music publications to a worldwide market of music lovers, performers and audiences.


loftThe refurbished Remick Publishing Company of Detroit currently houses lofts and a restaurant.

Before sound recordings, printed sheet music was sold to avid music fans for five cents a copy. Hits such as “In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree,” “Pretty Baby,” “Oh, You Beautiful Doll,” and “Moonlight Bay” poured from the 1250 Library Street building in Detroit and contributed to the changing American cultural/artistic scene from 1905-1928. Remick expanded his growing empire with branches in New York and Chicago until the popularity of recorded music in 1928. The last hits, “42nd Street” and “I Only Have Eyes for You,” ended the Detroit printing era as the company was sold to Warner Brothers. Jerome Remick, the grandson of lumber baron, Royal Remick of Whitney-Remick Lumber, was a founder of the Detroit Symphony, Detroit Orchestra Hall and board member of the Paige Motor Co., Parke Davis Pharmaceutical, Detroit Savings Co. and the Whitney Land Trust. Although he never played an instrument nor could read music, Jerome Remick was a pioneer of the music entertainment business and a firm believer in music as a necessity for public welfare societal growth. Jerome Remick died at the age of 63 in 1931 and is buried in Elmwood Cemetery, Detroit. Suzanne Skwarski Plank Road Questers #236 (Original Sheet Music from the collection of Suzanne Skwarski)