Jimmie Lunceford

Picture of Jimmie Lunceford

Jimmie Lunceford was born in Mississippi but spent the majority of his childhood in Denver, Colorado.  He grew up learning how to play a variety of instruments, but the alto saxophone became Lunceford's instrument of choice.

He led a popular and influential band from 1929 until his untimely death in 1947.  Lunceford's Orchestra made their first recordings in 1930 and toured throughout the early part of the decade.  In 1934, the band accepted a booking at the Harlem nightclub "The Cotton Club."  This is where Lunceford's reputation began to take-off.  The band's tight musicianship and the often outrageous humor in their music and lyrics, Lunceford's orchestra made an ideal band for the club. Lunceford's stage shows often included costumes, skits, and obvious jabs at mainstream white bands.

Jimmie Lunceford and His Orchestra were responsible for many hits in the mid to late 30's including the songs:  "Wham (Re-Bop-Boom-Bam)", "Lunceford Special", "For Dancers Only", "Uptown Blues" and "Stratosphere" to name just a handful. 

Even though Lunceford released some very good music in the 1940's, his band was in decline because he was constantly losing talented sidemen to better paying bands.  Lunceford sadly passed away in July of 1947 at the age of 45.  There has since been many rumors and allegations that Lunceford had been poisoned.

Listen to: "Blues In The Night" by Jimmie Lunceford (1942) 
from my personal collection of Shellac 78's.

You can hear the music of Jimmie Lunceford right here on Swing City Radio. 

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