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Bunny Berigan

Bunny Berigan

Bunny Berigan (1908–1942) was a trumpeter and bandleader whose career was tragically cut short by alcoholism.

Berigan started his career playing with local bands as a teenager in his home state of Wisconsin. He joined Hal Kemp's Orchestra in 1929 after failing his first tryout for the band.  By late 1930 he had already become a sought out studio musician providing trumpet solos for Abe Lyman, Paul Whiteman and Benny Goodman.  From late 1932 through early 1934, Berigan was a member of Paul Whiteman's orchestra, before playing with Abe Lyman's band for a bit in 1934.

In 1934, Bunny returned to freelancing and recorded as a sideman on hundreds of recordings, most notably with the Dorsey Brothers and Glenn Miller's earliest recordings as a band leader.

Browse Bunny Berigan's Music Collection (Affiliate Link)

At the same time, Berigan joined Benny Goodman's Swing band. With Berigan and Krupa both on board, the Goodman band made the tour that ended at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles. That tour and performance are often credited with the launch of the swing era.  Berigan recorded a number of solos while with Benny Goodman, including "King Porter Stomp", "Sometimes I'm Happy", and "Blue Skies".

Berigan led his own band full-time from early 1937 until June 1942, with a six-month hiatus in 1940 as a sideman in Tommy Dorsey's band. Berigan's alcoholism worked against his financial success as a bandleader. The stresses of bandleading drove Berigan to drink even more heavily. Some of the notable members of his band were Buddy Rich, Ray Conniff and Les Elgart.

Berigan sadly passed away in 1942 of cirrhosis of the liver.

You can hear Bunny Berigan right here on Swing City Radio.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

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Cootie Williams

Cootie Williams

Cootie Williams (1911–1985) was a trumpeter and band leader.

Cootie Williams began his professional career at the young age of fourteen with the Young Family band, which also happened to include Lester Young on sax. Williams once said he acquired his nickname as a boy when his father took him to a band concert. When it was over his father asked him what he'd heard and the young William replied, "Cootie, cootie, cootie."  Makes me wonder what band his father took him to see. :)

In 1928, he worked briefly in the bands of both Chick Webb and Fletcher Henderson.  His career took off when he became a member of Duke Ellington's orchestra when the band was playing at the Cotton Club. He also recorded his own sessions during this time, both as a freelancer and with other members Ellington's band. Williams was renowned for his "jungle" style of trumpet playing and for his use of the plunger mute. He would also sing occasionally. He was the soloist in major Ellington compositions like "Echoes of Harlem" and "Harlem Air Shaft."

Browse Cootie Williams' Music Collection (Affiliate Link)

In 1940 he joined Benny Goodman's orchestra. It was a highly publicized move within the Big Band community and it's fans. and it caused quite a stir at the time.  Then in 1941, Cootie Williams formed his own orchestra.  Some of the musicians he employed over the years were Charlie Parker, Eddie Davis, Bud Powell and Eddie Vinson.

In the late 1940's the band disbanded and Cootie began to focus more on rhythm and blues music.

You can listen to Cootie Williams and His Orchestra right here on Swing City Radio.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

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Dolly Dawn

Dolly Dawn

Dolly Dawn (1916–2002) was a vocalist and band leader. She was a singer with George Hall's Hotel Taft Orchestra in the 1930's and later took over control of the band.

In the early 1930's she appeared weekly on a local radio show based in New Jersey where she grew up. In 1935 she replaced Loretta Lee as vocalist with George Hall's orchestra.  She and the band broadcast six days a week from the famous Grill Room of the Taft Hotel in New York. The band became very popular. Her most successful song with George Hall's Hotel Taft Orchestra was "You're a Sweetheart."

Browse Dolly Dawn's Music Collection (Affiliate Link)

In July of 1941 George Hall officially turned the band over to Dolly and became her manager. The band was renamed "Dolly Dawn and Her Dawn Patrol".  This was short-lived because she lost many member of the band because of the World War II draft. From 1942 she continued on without the band appearing in clubs, dance halls and in other engagements throughout the US.

Dolly continued to record as a solo artist into the 1950's.

You can hear Dolly Dawn and Her Dawn Patrol as well as George Hall's Hotel Taft Orchestra right here on Swing City Radio.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

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This Week on Live at 5


This week we have some great Big Band performances on Live at 5 including:

Monday (11/18): Ozzie Nelson: Live from the Blackhawk - Mar 24, 1940

Tuesday (11/19): Gene Krupa: Live from The Meadowbrook -Feb 5, 1940

Wednesday (11/20): Sammy Kaye: Live from Hotel William Penn - June 10, 1940

Thursday (11/21): Woody Herman: Live from The College Inn -Mar 27 1945 and Harry James - Live on The Schaeffer Band Review - Mar 18, 1942

Friday (11/22): Frankie Carle: Live from Edgewater Beach Hotel - Aug 12, 1950

Please keep in mind, some of the recordings featured on the show are almost 100 years old. Time has been spent trying to clean up some the audio, but the quality at times, on some of these recordings can be a little sketchy.  There may be some audio garbles, a brief volume drop or two and some pops, but they shouldn't take away from the enjoyment of the recording.  That being said, the content of these shows are classic, so if you need to adjust your volume a bit, I hope you'll find that it's worth it.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA

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