Ben Selvin
violin, leader
d. 1980.
By many accounts the most recorded bandleader of all time with as many as 13,000 recordings to his credit, Ben Selvin led a variety of studio groups and society orchestras from 1910 into the '30s, recording endless novelties for prime commercial crossover, many of which featured future big bandleaders Benny Goodman, the Dorsey Brothers, Jack Teagarden, Red Nichols, and Bunny Berigan. Among the most popular of Selvin's thousands of sides were "Dardanella" (the first recording to sell five million copies), "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles," "Yes! We Have No Bananas," "Manhattan," "Happy Days Are Here Again" (best known as a theme song for President Franklin D. Roosevelt), and "When It's Springtime in the Rockies." In addition to his own sides, Selvin also led backing groups for vocalists Ethel Waters, Kate Smith, and Ruth Etting.
Selvin began his career as a violinist in Charles Strickland's orchestra. Not yet out of his teenage years, he launched his own society dance band in 1917 and began a seven-year residency at the Moulin Rouge club in New York. He recorded his first hit, "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles," for Victor in July 1919 at his first recording session. During the next few years, he led studio ensembles for labels including Vocalion, Brunswick, Okeh, Paramount, Lyric, Emerson, and Arto (many of them recorded under aliases, from the Bar Harbor Society Orchestra to the Broadway Syncopators). Just as on his recording dates, Selvin was able to lead a variety of society orchestras at performance dates, even on the same night. What was then common practice might result in dozens of orchestras playing weekend gigs all over New York, each one under the banner of Selvin (or Lester Lanin or Meyer Davis or any other popular bandleader of the day).

By the late '20s, Selvin was recording exclusively for Columbia. He continued to issue side after side into the mid-'30s. After retiring from performing in 1934, he went to work as a vice president of recording and programming at the newly formed Muzak company, using his connections to convince prominent bandleaders to record for the company anonymously. He became A&R director of Columbia Records in 1947 and supervised recording sessions for such singers as Frank Sinatra and Doris Day. In 1952, he moved to RCA Victor, where he worked until he retired in 1963, after which he was a consultant to 3M. He was also a co-founder of Majestic Records. He lived to see his ninth decade before dying of a heart attack in 1980.
~ John Bush
"Peg Leg" Howell, guitar
b. Eatonton, GA, USA.
Joshua Barnes Howell, known as Peg Leg Howell (March 5, 1888 - August 11, 1966), was an African American blues singer and guitarist, who connected early country blues and the later 12-bar style. He had the strong delivery and ear-catching repertoire of the professional street-singer.
He was born on a farm in Eatonton, Georgia, and taught himself guitar at the age of 21. Over time he became skilled in pre-Piedmont finger picking and slide guitar techniques. He continued working on the farm until he was shot in a fight, as a result of which he lost his right leg and began working full-time as a musician. In 1923 he moved to Atlanta, Georgia and began playing on street corners, but also served a period in prison for bootlegging liquor.
In 1926, he was heard playing on the streets of Atlanta and was recorded for the first time by Columbia Records. They released "New Prison Blues", written whilst in prison and one of the first country blues to be issued. Over the next three years Columbia recorded him on several occasions, often accompanied by a small group including Henry Williams (guitar) and Eddie Anthony (fiddle). His recorded repertoire covered ballads, ragtime and jazz, as well as blues. Anthony's vigorous dance playing gives us a rare view of the black string-band music that was almost obliterated by the craze for recording blues guitarists.
Howell continued to play around the Atlanta area for several years, but also began selling bootleg liquor again. After the mid 1930s he only performed occasionally and, in 1952, his left leg was removed as a result of diabetes, confining him to a wheelchair. Music was a thing of the past for Howell by now. In 1963 he was "rediscovered" in dire poverty in Atlanta by folklorist and field researcher (to be) George Mitchell and his high-school class-mate, Roger Brown, who recorded him at the age of 75 with the results issued on LP by Testament Records thirty-four years after his last commercial sessions. He died in Atlanta in 1966.

Irving Kahal, composer
b. Houtzdale, PA, USA.
d. Feb. 7, 1942, New York, NY, USA. (Uremic Poisoning)
Broadway and Hollywood pop lyricist Irving Kahal experienced much success during the late 1920s and '30s. Born in Pennsylvania in 1903, Kahal sang in vaudeville at a young age, then performed for awhile with a troupe led by Gus Edwards. It was during this time that Kahal met vaudevillian songwriter Sammy Fain.
From the mid-'20s on, the songwriting duo came up with pop hits for the stage and big screen, with some independent successes as well, including "Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella" (1928), "Wedding Bells (Are Breaking Up That Old Gang of Mine)" (1929), "You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me" (1930), "When I Take My Sugar to Tea" (1931), "I Can Dream, Can't I?," and "I'll Be Seeing You" (1938). Their songs were heard in such movie musicals as The Big Pond (1930), Footlight Parade (1933), and Harold Teen (1934). After 17 years, the duo of Kahal and Fain ended with Irving Kahal's death in N.Y.C. in 1942.
~ Joslyn Layne

Bill Pemberton, Bass
b. New York, NY, USA.
d. Dec 13, 1984, New York, NY, USA.
A solid bassist who was most notable for his versatility and ability to support soloists (he rarely took solos himself), Bill Pemberton worked steadily for over 40 years. He started out on violin, taking ten years of lessons before switching to bass when he was 18. In the 1940s, Pemberton worked regularly with Frankie Newton (1941-45), Herman Chittison (1945-47), Mercer Ellington, Eddie Barefield, Barbara Carroll, Eddie South, Lucky Millinder and Billy Kyle, among others.
He mostly freelanced in small-group swing settings during the next decade (including recording with Art Tatum in 1956), and he was part of the Fletcher Henderson Reunion Band (1957-58) despite never having played with Henderson. Later on, Pemberton worked with Buck Clayton, Sammy Price, Budd Johnson, Claude Hopkins and Earl Hines (1966-69) and was a member of the co-op JPJ Quartet (1969-75).
In demand for mainstream sessions, Pemberton played with Ruby Braff, Max Kaminsky, Vic Dickenson and many veteran all-stars. Panama Francis' Savoy Sultans was a perfect position for Pemberton from 1979-83, and he gigged and recorded with Doc Cheatham in 1984, shortly before his death at age 66. Pemberton never led his own record date but appeared as a sidemen on many sessions.
~ Scott Yanow

Lowell Peters, vocals
b. Cleveland, TN, USA.
Member: 'The Southernaires'.

Jesse Rodgers, (C&W) vocals
b. Waynesboro, MS, USA.
Cousin of Jimmie Rodgers.
Being the cousin of an American folk music icon would no doubt make it difficult, not easier, to establish one's own identity as a performer. What if there was so little information available about an obscure performer that the family connection was impossible to completely confirm? One thing is for sure -- the early recordings of Jesse Rodgers sound a whole lot like those of the famous Jimmie Rodgers, complete with blue yodel, similar sort of song topic, and carbon-copy guitar picking and vocal phrasing. In fact, the same old-timey music researchers who decided to find out who Jesse Rodgers actually was seemed to have agreed on one thing -- there were legions of Jimmie Rodgers imitators, but Jesse did it about the best, cousin or not.
A 1950 edition of Country Song Roundup featured an interview with Jesse Rodgers in which he mentioned that his mother had raised Jimmie as well. However, there are those who feel this particular magazine should be kept on the fiction shelf at the library. One of the presidents of the Jimmie Rodgers Society was quoted describing Jessie as "a likeable fella, but a liar," although the Society's official position seems to be that the men were cousins "of a sort," which, in the manner of the old joke about jazz, might be close enough for folk music. Writer Mike Paris researched Jesse for the British Old Time Music magazine, and in the process absolutely confirmed the family relationship via Jimmie's daughter, Anita Rodgers Court. Jimmie Rodgers had been a frequent visitor in Jesse's home; both families worked in the railroad. Jesse's ability to play so closely in the Rodgers style had, in the end, an easy explanation: Jimmie had actually taught him to play guitar.
Jesse's mother died when he was 12, and he was relocated to southwest Texas to live with an uncle. This new location, right on the edge of the Mexican border, exposed Jesse to a different atmosphere than Mississippi. The cowboy lore was previously just something he had soaked up from Jimmie's songs. After marrying and beginning to raise his family, his famous cousin inspired him further and Jesse started devoting more time to music than farming, going full-time with the music in 1932.
He got onto a string of powerful Mexican radio stations, probably with a leg up from Jimmie. Now cousin Jesse was just as busy singing, sometimes five shows a day in which he was also hawking the sponsor's products, often poultry. Jimmie Rodgers died the following year, and of course record companies, such as Victor, who had done well with hillbilly and cowboy music, were looking for new blood. Jesse was brought into the studios in 1934. Over the next three years, he recorded his most famous material, including "Roughneck Blues" and "Rattlesnake Daddy." Jesse began his recording career as a soloist, but later added other players, such as Dick Bunyard on pedal steel and the Hawaiian musician Charles Kama, who, with his group Moana Hawaiians, had also backed Jimmie.
Jesse recorded and performed mostly his own material, and the traditional numbers he chose were also altered considerably and published under his own name. Despite the general quality of his recordings, his career never took off outside of his home base, and perhaps the audience was wary that Jesse was simply cashing in on the Rodgers name, or trying to. The record company participated in what might have been either promotion or confusion, putting out a split disc with songs by both Rodgers. Jesse's skeptics were probably not appeased by his publicity photos, as he always dressed up exactly like Jimmie had.
In the late '30s and '40s, Jesse worked on the WLS National Barn Dance in Chicago and with a group called the Lazy K Ramblers in Kansas City. He made new recordings for the Sonora label in the mid-'40s, and by this time had ditched the blue yodel and was doing almost completely cowboy material, including a recording of the chestnut "Back in the Saddle Again." He settled in Philadelphia in 1945 and began a long run on station WFIL. He went back to the Victor label and had a few hits, including "I've Got Five Dollars and It's Saturday Night," a honky tonk classic whose title has never been adjusted for inflation. He appeared in the first live television Western, The Western Balladeer for WPTZ, which led to his own show, Ranger Joe. His own horse, Topez, even became something of a celebrity through this show, of which more than 500 episodes were produced. The two were in demand for personal appearances, including parades which Jesse would lead astride the Palomino. Singer Sally Starr joined the act and wound up marrying one of the members.
By the end of the '50s, it seemed like Jesse could have almost become a household name, as he had a quarter of a million kids signed up through his fan club -- but emphysema came along. He was forced to retire, and by 1963 was completely unable to sing. He moved to Houston to be near his sister, and tried to maintain his creativity by writing songs and stories. In the last ten years of his life, he weighed less than 100 pounds. His son, Jimmie O. Rodgers, began negotiating with Victor about reissues during the last years of Jesse's life. The deal was finally signed a year before Jesse died and two albums were released on the Astro label, difficult to find at the time of their release and impossible in the years thereafter. Exposure to his music will lead listeners to conclude that although Jesse certainly began his career imitating Jimmie Rodgers, as his career went on he began following developments in country & western music, joining a group of country artists who were comfortable not only with old-timey cowboy songs, but honky tonk and rockabilly as well.
~ Eugene Chadbourne

Gene Rodgers
b. New York, NY, USA.
d. Oct. 23, 1987.
Practically every jazz record collector has heard a sampling of pianist Gene Rodgers but probably not realized it, for Rodgers took the famous four-bar piano introduction on Coleman Hawkins' classic rendition of "Body And Soul" in 1939! A talented swing-based pianist, Rodgers had a long career although he never became famous. He was a professional as early as 1924 and by 1928 was working in New York. Rodgers recorded with Clarence Williams and King Oliver and worked with Chick Webb and Teddy Hill among others. The pianist formed a variety act in the mid-1930's, touring the United States, England and Australia and recording with Benny Carter in Great Britain in 1936.
Back in the U.S., Rodgers worked and recorded with Coleman Hawkins (1939-40), was in Zutty Singleton's Trio and with Erskine Hawkins' big band (1943).

Rodgers worked in Los Angeles for a couple years (appearing in the film Sensations of 1945 on one number with Cab Calloway opposite fellow pianist Dorothy Donegan) and then led his own trio, mostly working in New York. In 1981-82 he worked for a period with the Harlem Blues and Jazz Band. As a leader, Gene Rodgers only recorded on a few occasions: two numbers for Vocalion in 1936, four for Joe Davis in 1945 and isolated trio albums for EmArcy (a definitive outing from 1958), Black & Blue (1972) and 88 Up Right (1980).
~ Scott Yanow

Joe Yukl, Trombone
b. New York, NY, USA.
d. 1981.
If you loved Jimmy Stewart's faked trombone playing in the 1953 film The Glenn Miller Story, you have Joe Yukl to thank; he coached Stewart in the fine art of trombone technique and played some of the solos in the movie. Yukl had a long career playing in Hollywood studio bands from the late '30s until the late '60s, but before that he played with some of the more prominent jazz musicians of his day, including Red Nichols, Frankie Trumbauer, Ben Pollack, and the Dorsey Brothers.
Yukl's first instrument was violin, taught to him by his father. He began concentrating on trombone while a student at Maryland University. He played with the Maryland Collegians beginning in 1926 and spent some time in Ottawa, Canada. He relocated to New York in 1927 at the suggestion of Tommy Dorsey and played with Red Nichols, Roger Kahn Wolfe, and Fred Rich's CBS Orchestra.
A 1929 appendectomy laid him up and he moved back to Maryland. After his recovery, he played mostly around Baltimore for the next two years. In 1933, he played with Joe Haymes for a few months before moving to the Dorsey Brothers' Orchestra. The brothers split in 1935 and Jimmy went to California; Yukl went with him. He stayed with the younger Dorsey's band until 1937. Over the next few years he would also work Trumbauer, Pollack, Ray McKinley, Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, and Ted Fio Rito. He eventually found most of his work in the studios, but continued to play jazz with Wingy Manone, Charlie LaVere, and others. He recorded prolifically as a freelance musician, and appeared in the 1951 film Rhythm Inn.
Notable Events Occurring 
On This Date Include:

George Wilkerson
fiddler with the "Fruit Jar Drinkers",
and Member Grand Ole Opry, died.
Age 58.

Patsy Cline, died in a airplane crash near Camden, TN, USA.
Age: 30, Patsy was a member of the Grand Ole Opry.
In the same plane, and also killed, were Cowboy Copas, age 49, Hawkshaw Hawkins, age 41, and Patsy's manager, Randy Hughes, age 34. Hughes was piloting the plane.

Syd Nathan, label founder (King/Federal)
died in Miami Beach, FL, USA. 63

Arthur "Monk" Hazel, drummer, cornet
died in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.

"Red" Saunders, drums
died in Chicago, IL, USA.

Bernie Washington, first Black DJ
died in Pittsburgh, PA, USA. 
Age 83.

Herb Hall, clarinet/sax
died in San Antonio, TX, USA.
Age: 88.

Songs Recorded/Released
On This Date Include:


Yerkes' Southern Five - Railroad Man


Bessie Smith - Squeeze Me


Bessie Smith - I Want Ev'ry Bit Of It


University Six
  • Lila
  • Stay Out Of The South (If You Want To Miss A Heaven On Earth)
  • The Pay-Off


Louis Armstrong and his Savoy Ballroom Five - **I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby

Ben Pollack and his Park Central Orchestra

Jimmy Johnson and his Band
  • Fare Thee Honey Blues
  • Put Your Mind Right On It

Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra


Jelly Roll Morton's Red Hot Peppers - If Someone Would Only Love Me

Alphonso Trent and his Orchestra - After You've Gone
  • St. James Infirmary

Roger Wolfe Kahn and his Orchestra
  • Exactly Like You - Vocal refrain by Libby Holman


Ted Lewis and his Band - Dallas Blues - Fats Waller at the Piano


Lucille Bogan - Shave 'Em Dry


I Can't Give You Anything But Love (Baby)
(Dorothy Fields / Jimmy McHugh)

I can't give you anything but love, baby
That's the only thing I've plenty of, baby
Dream a while, scheme a while
You're sure to find
Happiness and I guess
All those things you've always pined for

Now, gee I love to see you looking' swell, baby
Diamond bracelets Woolworth doesn't sell, baby
Till that lucky day, you know darn well, baby
I can't give you anything but love

Gee, I love to see you looking' swell, baby.
Look like you just came up out of the wishing well, baby.
Dream awhile, scheme awhile and you're sure happiness and
ALL those things you been looking' for baby.
Gee, I love to see you looking' swell, baby !!
Diamond rings, bracelets, gold watches 'n' everything, baby.
Until that lucky day, honey, you know good 'n' doggone well, honey,
I can't give you a DADGUM thing but love.

Now, I can't give you anything but love, baby
That's the only thing I've plenty of, baby
Dream a while, scheme a while
You're sure to find
Happiness and I guess
All those things you've always pined for
Now, gee I love to see you looking' swell, baby
Diamond bracelets Woolworth doesn't sell, baby
Till that lucky day, you know darn well, baby
I can't give you anything but love

brought to you by... 


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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