John Kirby

Picture of John Kirby

John Kirby led a successful band in the late 1930's - early 40's, and was a fantastic double-bassist.  He also played trombone and tuba.

Kirby began his career in the late 1920's and by 1930, he landed a spot in Fletcher Henderson's great band as a tuba player.  As the tuba fell out of favor as a popular instrument, Kirby switched over to double-bass and later played in the bands of Chick Webb and Lucky Millinder.

In 1937, Kirby put together a sextet that later became known as The Onyx Club Boys and was promoted as "The Biggest Little Band in the Land".  Kirby and the band were famous for their Chamber Jazz style, which was a lighter, Classical influenced style of Jazz.  They scored a few hits including "Loch Lomond" and "Undecided". 

Listen to: "Loch Lomond" by John Kirby with Maxine Sullivan on vocals.

The most prominent vocalist for John Kirby's band was Maxine Sullivan, who later became Kirby's second wife.  As Kirby's career declined in the late 1940's, he drank heavily which led to an issue with diabetes.

Kirby planned a comeback in the early 1950's but died at the young age of 43.

You can hear the music of John Kirby right here on Swing City Radio.

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