Harney, Ben

Harney, (Benjamin Robertson) Ben

(1872–1938) ragtime songwriter, performer; born in Louisville, Ky. Trained in classical piano, at age 17 he composed one of the earliest ragtime songs, "You've Been a Good Old Wagon But You've Done Broke Down," which became a big hit. He moved to New York in 1896 and performed the new musical style. Before suffering a heart attack in 1928, he toured the United States, Europe, and the Far East. With the rise of jazz, ragtime declined and he died in poverty.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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Pictured are Terry Harney, Ben Atherton, Steve Freeman, Steve Griffin and Les Wilkinson.