“Brother Coolidge’s” vice president wrote the Four Tops “All In the Game” melody

CLEVELAND, OH – One of the sweetest songs the original Four Tops sang was written by mixed-race  Republican President Calvin Coolidge’s vice president.  Charles Dawes was from Marietta, Ohio and a self-taught piano player and flautist.  It means he also played the flute. 

Like all true musicians, Dawes had his own sound and combination of melody lines he liked.  Dawes couldn’t get a melody line in “A major” out of his head that consist of the notes A, C sharp and E; so he recorded it.  “Melody in A Major.”  And he played it for audiences.  

Dawes played piano as Coolidge’s vice president.  But he also played when he ran Ohioan William McKinley’s campaign for president of the United States; and while he served as his comptroller of the currency.  Dawes played his piano when he formed the Central Trust of Illinois bank; and during his time as a general during World War 1.  He also played it after winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in reconstructing Germany after World War 1.

Like South African trumpet player Hugh Masakela who asked this writer how he would like playing the same song for the last decade during an interview at Cleveland’s MadHatter in 1978, Vice President Dawes grew tired of his Melody in A Major to the point he eventually didn’t like it.  He died on April 23, 1951 before Carl Sigman the same year added his “All In The Game” lyrics to Dawes’ melody and the song became popularly-known when it was sung by Russian American singer Dinah Shore nee Stein.  

Singer Sammy Kaye did a White male “cover” of Dawes’ melody with Sigman’s “All In The Game” lyrics.  But it was American and Black singer Tommy Edward’s one hit wonder version of the song that at the time sold best.  From the 1950’s the song became a “standard” sang by lots of artists.  Among them were Americans Brook Benton, Nat King Cole and Russian American Barry Pincus who’s better known as Barry Manilow.

Merle Haggard, Van  Morrison and Cliff Richards recorded “All In the Game” versions.  But no group charted higher with the song than the Four Tops.  Number 6 on the R&B charts and number 24 on Billboard in 1970.  Singer Isaac Hayes charted his “All In the Game” version at 86 on the Billboard Hot 100.  The Four Tops.  Abdul Duke Fakir, Levi Stubbs, Renaldo Obie Benson and Lawrence Payton … hands down. 


An observant reader may have the “back of the mind” thought that Dawes’ melody seems to have been really hooked up by Black American singers and recording artists.  One of the little known secrets about the president he served, Calvin Coolidge, is that he was mixed-race Black American under this nation’s “one drop rule” where a drop of Black blood makes a person Black.  Dawes appears to have faced similiar questions.

Coolidge, when asked, said who knows who his great grandmother slept with and left it alone.  Both Coolidge and Vice President Dawes were anti-slavery abolitionists who, unlike Donald Trump and leading candidates from both parties, actually had roots to the original 13 American colonies.

The Four Tops let this writer sing “Can’t Help Myself” at their show at the Palace in Cleveland, Ohio. Shown in the photograph are Roquel Payton, Abdul Duke Fakir, Eric Jonathan Brewer and Ronnie McNeir.

Ohioans who attended Marietta College, Cincinnati law school graduates and members of the Delta Upsilon fraternity should acknowledge Dawes as one of “Ohio born their own.”  It’s also interesting that the same state which produced Bone Thugs & Harmony produced self-taught piano player and violinst Charles Dawes.

Eric Jonathan Brewer

Cleveland's most influential journalist and East Cleveland's most successful mayor is an East Saint Louis, Illinois native whose father led the city's petition drive in 1969 to elect the first black mayor in 1971. Eric is an old-school investigative reporter whose 40-year body of editorial work has been demonstrably effective. No local journalist is feared or respected more.

Trained in newspaper publishing by the legendary Call & Post Publisher William Otis Walker in 1978 when it was the nation's 5th largest Black-owned publication, Eric has published and edited 13 local, regional and statewide publications across Ohio. Adding to his publishing and reporting resume is Eric's career in government. Eric served as the city's highest paid part-time Special Assistant to ex-Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White. He served as Chief of Staff to ex-East Cleveland Mayor Emmanuel Onunwor; and Chief of Communications to the late George James in his capacity as the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority's first Black executive director. Eric was appointed to serve as a member of the state's Financial Planning & Supervision Commission to guide the East Cleveland school district out of fiscal emergency and $20 million deficit. Former U.S. HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson told Eric in his D.C. office he was the only mayor in the nation simultaneously-managing a municipal block grant program. Eric wrote the city's $2.2 million Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant application. A HUD Inspector General audit of his management of the block grant program resulted in "zero" audit findings.

As a newspaper publisher, Eric has used his insider's detailed knowledge of government and his publications to lead the FBI and state prosecutors to investigations that resulted in criminal prosecutions of well-known elected officials in Ohio; and have helped realign Cleveland's political landscape with the defeat of candidates and issues he's exposed. Eric's stories led to the indictments of the late Governor George Voinovich's brother, Paul Voinovich of the V Group, and four associates. He asked the FBI to investigate the mayor he'd served as chief of staff for public corruption; and testified in three federal trials for the prosecution. He forced former Cuyahoga County Coroner Dr. Elizabeth Balraj to admit her investigations of police killings were fraudulent; and to issue notices to local police that her investigators would control police killing investigations. Eric's current work has resulted in Cuyahoga County Judge John Russo accepting the criminal complaint he guided an activist to file against 24 civil rights-violating police officers in the city he once led for operating without valid peace officer credentials. USA Today reporters picked up on Eric's police credentials reporting from his social media page and made it national.

Eric is the author of of his first book, "Fight Police License Plate Spying," which examines the FBI and local police misuse of the National Crime Information Center criminal records history database. An accomplished trumpet player and singer whose friendship with Duke Fakir of the Four Tops resulted in his singing the show's closing song, "Can't Help Myself": Curtis Sliwa of New York's Guardian Angels counts Eric among his founding chapter leaders from the early 1980's role as an Ohio organizer of over 300 volunteer crime fighters in Cleveland, Columbus and Youngstown, Ohio. For his work as a young man Eric was recognized by Cleveland's Urban League as it's 1983 Young Man of the Year.

Known in Cleveland for his encyclopedic knowledge of government and history, and intimately-connected with the region's players, every local major media outlet in Cleveland has picked up on one of Eric's stories since 1979. There is no mainstream newspaper, television or radio outlet in Cleveland that does not include an interview with Eric Jonathan Brewer in its archives over the past 40 years.


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