Eddie Peabody, banjo
b. Reading, MA, USA
d. Nov. 7, 1970 in Covington, KY, USA
Age 68.
Known as "The Banjo King".
~by Eugene Chadbourne 
An old movie is flickering across a television screen late at night. Mickey Rooney is cuddling up to Judy Garland, a banjo on his knee. He strums the opening to "Swanee," hitting a few fancy licks. Certainly that can't be Rooney playing the banjo. Who is it, really? None other than Eddie Peabody, one of the few on this instrument who can make a serious claim to being the most famous banjo player of all time. No, that would be Earl Scruggs, some listeners who like to wallow in bluegrass might object. Or Bela Fleck, younger banjo fans would argue. It is surely true that the fingerpicking style of five-string bluegrass banjo playing has taken hold as the dominant approach to this instrument, the sound involved in every breakout mainstream hit using banjo, especially film soundtracks such as Bonnie and Clyde or Deliverance. 
But there was a time when the plectrum tenor or four-string banjo style was hitting big on the music scene, and Peabody was considered the king of this particular style as well as one of the main developers of so many banjo techniques and styles associated with the plectrum. (That's a pick that the player holds between his fingers, as opposed to the bluegrass method of playing with fingerpicks tightly wrapped around one's fingers, or the old Appalachian style of playing with bare fingers, knuckles, etc.) Peabody's career stretched over two world wars. He developed much of his stagecraft during the heyday of vaudeville, and was able to keep working with his banjo during the economically severe days of the Depression. A musical instrument was first thrust into his hands by his mother, who noticed the rowdy little boy would keep quiet if he was allowed to fiddle with the strings of a mandolin. 
He began playing professionally upon his release from the Navy at the end of World War I. At this time he was quite the multi-instrumentalist, playing up to 30 different stringed instruments in his stage show, but always noticing that when he played the banjo the audience would tend to go wild. No fool he, Peabody kept fattening up the banjo's share of the proceedings until all he was carrying around was the banjo case. Showmanship was a big part of the act as well as musicality. One of his early triumphs was basically stealing the show from one of the era's biggest stars, Rudy Vallee at a packed-out show in San Francisco. Peabody entered the stage by sliding down a giant prop of a banjo neck, wearing an eye-boggling blazer, and pants large enough for a medium-sized giraffe. 
During this period his act became more and more extravagant, and he had plenty of opportunities to fiddle with it (or more accurately pick at it) because bookings were coming in 52 weeks of the year. He not only was playing all the top vaudeville houses, the banjoist was doing command performances for the likes of the Duke of Windsor, King Gustav of Sweden, King George of England, and Presidents Roosevelt and Truman. Instrument inventing was a hobby during the odd spare hour. A forgotten curiosity that Peabody came up with was the banjoline, which was kind of a combination of a banjo and a lap steel or Hawaiian guitar. The neck of this instrument was fashioned after a banjo. There was also a unique sound design involving the doubling of the third and fourth strings, one set in unison and the other an octave apart, while the first and second strings were not doubled. The instrument was available briefly from both the Rickenbacker and Fender guitar kingdoms. 
Peabody is often credited with inventing the idea of playing the banjo with a soft pick instead of the fingers, however it is hard to imagine other players not having tried something like this from time to time. Musicians playing instruments in the banjo family on other continents such as Africa and Asia definitely have made use of different types of plectrums throughout history. Peabody's use of a pick to play the fiddle was definitely unusual, however, and country fiddlers that use this gimmick tend to credit the idea to Peabody. His playing itself made it onto many radio and television broadcasts as well as films, starting with some of the very first sound pictures in 1926. The medium was a natural for exploiting routines he had established in his stage act. In the 1937 movie Hula Heaven, Peabody performs the chestnut "I'm an Old Cowhand" with a line of hula girls passing off different instruments to him. He begins the song on harp guitar, then switches to both mandolin and the eentsy mandola before winding up the number on banjo. 
He began recording for the Dot label in 1924 and made a series of sides including two albums exclusively featuring the banjoline. Some of the best-sellers were Eddie Peabody Plays and When You're Smiling. Although he recorded literally hundreds of songs, some of his favorite numbers include "Hello Sandy," "Whoopee," and "Here Comes Charlie." His concert appearances took him all over the world and he frequently performed for servicemen at military bases.
There are several different memoirs written by soldiers stationed overseas in World War II that describe just such Peabody performances. He was known for his dedication to the banjo and for taking time out of his schedule to visit banjo students at music academies. Part of this might have been a mercenary interest on his part, because yet another of his tricks was to play a couple of numbers on several different banjos during the course of a show, then sell the instruments offstage for a fat profit at the end of the night to pickers eager to own an instrument that "Eddie Peabody had played."
He collapsed onstage at a nightclub in Kentucky in November of 1970, and died of a stroke only eight hours later. Banjoist Lowell Schreyer published a biography, The Eddie Peabody Story. Peabody himself would no doubt enjoy the fact that one of the most enduring legends about him is a famous blooper that came out of the mouth of a radio announcer one evening in the '30s: "Ladies and gentlemen...Now Eddie Playbody will pee for you." 
Eddie Peabody on Red Hot Jazz

John Bubbles, vocals/dancer
b. Louisville, KY, USA.
Member: 'Buck & Bubbles'
John W. Bubbles
John William Sublett (February 19, 1902 – May 18, 1986)
known by his stagename John W. Bubbles, was an
American vaudeville performer, singer and entertainer. John Sublett is the father of modern rhythm tap dancing and is responsible for popularizing it on stage and screen. Sublett was only seven when he began singing on-stage. Later he teamed up with dancer Ford "Buck" Lee Washington to become Buck and Bubbles. The two danced together for four decades. Sublett also appeared on Broadway in shows such as Porgy and Bess and revues such as Frolics of 1922. He also performed with the Ziegfeld Follies in 1931 with Washington. The two also appeared in a couple of films including Cabin in the Sky (1943) and A Song Is Born (1948). Sublett helped to teach Fred Astaire and other stars how to tap dance. Following Buck's death in 1955, Bubbles did not perform again until the mid-'60s when he joined comedian Bob Hope on a tour of U.S.O. shows. He then worked as the opening act for Judy Garland's Judy at the Palace. Sublett also appeared on several talk and variety shows. After suffering a debilitating stroke around 1967, Sublett retired from performing.
~ Sandra Brennan

Robert Burse, drums
b. Sheffield, AL, USA.

Saul Chaplin
b. Brooklyn, NY, USA.
d. Nov.,15,1997, Los Angeles,CA, USA.
né: Saul Kaplan.
Died of injuries from a fall.
~by Joslyn Layne 
Composer Saul Chaplin was active from the mid-'30s through the 1960s, writing many famous pop hits and film scores, often with collaborator and influential lyricist Sammy Cahn. Born in Brooklyn, NY, in 1912, Chaplin attended NYU and played in dance bands. During the mid-'30s, Chaplin co-led a dance band with Sammy Cahn, and the two soon began songwriting together. He wrote for vaudeville and revues, and switched over to Hollywood in 1941, initially working as a composer/arranger, and later becoming a musical director and producer (for example, he produced the 1968 film Star). Some of his best-known songs are "Shoe Shine Boy," "Until the Real Thing Comes Along" (1936), "Bei Mir Bist du Schoen" (1937), "Please Be Kind" (1938), "The Anniversary Song" (1946), and "You Wonderful You" (1950). Chaplin wrote a number of important film scores including those for Cover Girl (1944), The Jolson Story (1946), An American in Paris (1951), Kiss Me Kate (1953), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), and West Side Story (1961).

Johnny Dunn, trumpet
b. Memphis, TN, USA.
d. Aug. 20, 1937 (Tuberculosis).
~by Scott Yanow

Before Louis Armstrong arrived in New York in 1924, Johnny Dunn was considered the top cornetist in the city. His staccato style, double-time effects and utilization of wah-wah mutes gave him notoriety for a time. Dunn had attended Fisk University in Nashville and had a solo act in Memphis before being discovered by W.C. Handy. He joined Handy's band in 1917 and during the next three years became known for his feature on "Sergeant Dunn's Bugle Call Blues" (which later became the basis for "Bugle Call Rag"). A pioneer with plunger mutes, Dunn's double-time breaks, with their inflexible and jerky rhythms, had a direct link to military bands. He recorded with Mamie Smith in 1920-1921, leaving in the latter year to lead his own Original Jazz Hounds.

From 1921-1923, the cornetist recorded frequently, both with his own group and backing singer Edith Wilson. He joined Will Vodery's Plantation Orchestra in 1922, visiting Europe with the revue Dover to Dixie the following year. However, the Chicago musicians were much farther advanced than Dunn and once Louis Armstrong began influencing brassmen with his swinging, legato solos for Fletcher Henderson, Dunn was instantly out of date. After visiting Europe again (this time with the Blackbirds of 1926 show), Dunn briefly led his own big band and then in 1928 made his finest recordings, four numbers with Jelly Roll Morton and two with both James P. Johnson and Fats Waller on pianos. Strangely enough, he never recorded again, moving permanently to Europe, where he played with Noble Sissle in Paris, worked with his own group (the New Yorkers) mostly in Holland, and was largely forgotten before his early death. All of Johnny Dunn's recordings, other than his Mamie Smith sides, are on two RST CDs.

Louis 'Kid Shots' Madison, cornetist
b. New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
d. Sept, 1948
"Kid Shots" was one of the great old New Orleans Dixielanders. He played, and recorded with such musicians as Baby Dodds (drums), George Lewis (clarinet), Lawrence Marrero (banjo), Jim Robinson (trombone), Alcide 'Slow Drag' Pavageau (bass), Bunk Johnson (trumpet), Wooden Joe Nicholas, and George Lewis, among others.
~by Eugene Chadbourne

The trumpeter with a nickname like a boxer in a '40s melodrama has historical credits on the New Orleans jazz scene deserving of a round-one knockout. He played in a band for orphaned street urchins alongside none other than Louis Armstrong, at that point wisely allowing Satchmo the brass duties while Louis "Kid Shots" Madison managed nicely on the first instrument mastered by any New Orleans player, the drums. Soon Madison would learn trumpet from historic yet shadowy figures of mastery such as Joe Howard and Louis Dumaine. Another of Madison's childhood associates had been Kid Rena. By the early '20s the trumpet- and cornet-blowing Madison was working with Oscar Celestin and the Original Tuxedo Jazz Orchestra.

Madison was a fixture in several of the main brass bands in New Orleans during the '20s and '30s. Recordings exist of him performing with such a group under the direction of Bunk Johnson in 1945; he also worked with the Young Tuxedo Brass Band and the Eureka Brass Band. His health would not last out the '40s, but the final half of the decade was certainly a busy one for this man, combining a regular evening musical drive at the Cadillac Club with a day job for the city board of health. A musician who was quite unique in an almost total lack of musical influence from outside of New Orleans, Madison also performed the music of his last years on the edge of the city, at a venue located on the vast Lake Pontchartrain. He stopped playing his horns following a stroke at the beginning of 1948.
Louis kid shots Madison

Notable Events Occurring
On This Date Include:


Thomas Alva Edison
patented a music player
(he called it a 'speaking machine').
Today, we call it a Phonograph.

Tommy Dorsey Orchestra
recorded "I'll Take Tallulah" (Victor).

Douglas Furber, songwriter
died in London, UK.
Age 75.
Furber, who was born May 13, 1885, 1984 London, England, UK
d. London, England, UK, is perhaps best recalled for the tune
"Limehouse Blues" (Lyrics: Douglas Furber Music: Phillip Braham)
In 1987, Furber was posthumously nominated for two Tony Awards,
one for 'Best Score' for "Me and My Girl", and for his lyrics with music
by Noel Gay, (and other lyrics by 'L. Arthur Rose").
Robert Reisner
Robert Reisner was a curator of The Institute of Jazz Studies in the early 1950s.
died in New York, NY, USA
Age: 52

Carl T. Sprague
Cowboy singer
Age: 83

Rudolph K. Pernell, guitar
died in Chicago, IL, USA

Claude Hopkins, piano/leader
died in New York (Manhattan), NY, USA
Age: 80

Songs Recorded/Released
On This Date Include:


Joseph C. Smith's Orchestra - Poor Butterfly
  • Allah's Holiday
  • Evensong Waltz

  • Get Off My Foot


Columbia Saxophone Sextette Frogs Legs


Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra - Home in Pasadena & Mona Vanna
Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra - Where's My Sweetie Hiding?


Fess Williams and his Royal Flush Orchestra - Wimmin - Aaah!


Slim Lamar and his Southerners Memphis Kick-Up
Slim Lamar and his Southerners Mississippi Stomp

Hoagy Carmichael and his Orchestra March Of The Hoodlums

The California Ramblers
  • Guess Who?


Mamie Smith Don't You Advertise Your Man

Ted Weems and his Orchestra I Lost My Gal Again


Monette Moore's Swing Shop Boys
Rhythm For Sale(Swing Shop Swing)
Two Old Maids In A Folding Bed


Poor Butterfly

There's a story told of a little Japanese.
Sitting demurely 'neath the cherry blossom trees.
Miss Butterfly's her name.
A sweet little innocent child was she
'Till a fine young American from the sea
To her garden came.

They met 'neath the cherry blossoms everyday.
And he taught her how to love the American way.
To love with her soul t'was easy to learn.
Then he sailed away with a promise to return.

Poor butterfly
'Neath the blossoms waiting.
Poor Butterfly
For she loved him so.

The moments pass into hours.
The hours pass into years.
And as she smiles through her tears,
She murmurs low:

The moon and I know that he'll be faithful
I'm sure he'll come to me by and by.
But if he won't come back then I'll never sigh or cry,
I just must die.
Poor butterfly.

I'll Take Tallulah

Have you met Dolores? She's queen of the forest
Have you met Olivia? Her I'd gladly give ya
Have you met the queen, the rulah, Tallulah
For that gal Tallulah I would fight a duela,
I would climb a hillah, I'll paddle to Priscilla,
But this is getting sillah, I'm getting lots of thrillah, Tallulah
When she starts to lock on to a man to love she wants to fricassee
No one doing the hula, can do what Tallulah can do to me.
I have met Fatima (Fatima is a schemma)
I have met Marquita (Marquita is a cheeta)
I have met Jemima, she's a social climba
I have met Ophelia, she will double deal ya,
Just one girl is Trullah, I'll take Tallulah

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Special Thanks To:
The Red Hot Jazz Archives,
The Big Band Database, Scott Yanow,
and all those who have provided content,
images and sound files for this site.

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