steamboat bill COMPOSERs:

the leightons 

Like co-composer Ren Shields,Decatur Ohio's favorite sons,  the Leighton Brothers  Frank, (1880-1927, center) and Bert (1877-1964, right) Jack (1879-1933, left) started in minstrelsy and,  by 1904, were featured performers with minstrel Lew Dockstader before turning to vaudeville.

The Leightons enjoyed a decade of modest popularity and thanks to a couple of hit songs. 

Though the Leightons produced other sheets, their star quickly faded after older brother Frank died and popular music tastes changed. 

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The Daily Review (Decatur) Thursday April 12, 1900


The News Palladium Benton Harbor, MIchigan, Wednesday, April 9, 1902 

The Decatur Herald

 Thursday    April 7, 1904

In 1921, the Leightons attempted a comeback reinventing themselves as the discoverers of jazz and blues and repeating the inaccuracy of having composed Casey Jones.  In a move that anticipated the later popularity of  Sigmund Spaeth and Alan Lomax, the Leightons attempted to frame  themselves  as intrepid musicologists who  “conceived the idea of commercializing the pathetic lamentations of the unfortunates of the underworld.” The comeback failed and, with the unexpected death of older brother Frank in 1926, the act broke up.


The Tennessean (Nashville) Sunday,  

June 18, 1921


The Tennessean (Nashville) Sunday,  

June 19, 1921

The Wilkes Barre Record 

Saturday March 11, 1922

The San Francisco Examiner Friday March 12, 1948

The Decatur Herald

 Tuesday, February 11, 1964