I enjoyed Lawrence Bergreen's article of the recluse Irving Berlin ("Behind the Berlin Wall," March 28).
Paul Grein claimed that Berlin "recorded one hit as an artist"--"Oh, How That German Could Love" in 1910. There were no record Top 10s in those days--hits were gauged by sheet music sales, and, anyway, this German dialect song was not a national hit.
Irving Berlin, in those days, was a publicity-hound. He constantly gave stories to the press and often, like most of those rambunctious Tin Pan Alleymen, exaggerated.
His collaborators in those early ragtime years include George Botsford ("Grizzly Bear"), Edgar Leslie ("Sadie Salone, Go Home") and George Meyer ("Dance and Grow Thin"). These men never seem to get a mention. Nor do the Berlin arrangers (who often had to supply the harmony) such as Cliff Hess.