Henry Halstead

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Henry Halstead
Birth name Henry Halstead
Also known as Hank Halstead
Born November 16, 1897
Origin  USA El Paso, Texas USA
Died March 19, 1984
Genres Jazz
Occupations Bandleader
Labels Victor Records

Henry Halstead (November 16, 1897 – March 19, 1984) was a U.S. bandleader.

Henry Halstead Orchestra

Henry Halstead's Orchestra began in early 1922 and over the next 20 years Halstead's band engagements extended from coast to coast, including the Blossom Room at Hotel Roosevelt, New York City; the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California; the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco; the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago; and a season at "Fatty" Arbuckle's "Plantation" in Culver City where such entertainers as Al Jolson, Sophie Tucker, Gus Edwards, and Leatrice Joy were headliners on his shows. Henry Halstead had from 15 to 20 bandmembers at any given time. Halstead's orchestra appeared in numerous short subjects on the screen and has made over 100 phonograph records, mainly with Victor Records. In addition, Halstead appeared in short films released by RKO Radio.

Following their rise to national fame over the air and in the grill rooms on the West Coast, Henry Halstead and his band gained the reputation as being the "Favorite Band of Movieland". During his career as the West Coast's premier dance orchestra Hank Halstead's boys played for nearly all the movie people at their private entertainments. Among the names of those who became Halstead fans were Sylvia Sidney, Fredric March, Claudette Colbert, Kay Francis, Rudolph Valentino, Roscoe Arbuckle, Maurice Chevalier, Clark Gable, Norma Shearer, Greta Garbo, Clive Brook, Gary Cooper, Marian Nixon, Jack Oakie, Buddy Rogers, and Ruth Chatterton.

Hollywood actor Lew Ayres was discovered in the Henry Halstead band in 1927. Ayres said "I was a member of Henry Halstead's orchestra in 1927 at the Mission Beach Ballroom, San Diego, Calif....summer. My instruments were tenor banjo, long-neck banjo and guitar. After a hiatus, I rejoined Mr. Halstead with a new group, including Phil Harris, on New Years Eve the same year for the opening night of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel... a memorable occasion." Henry Halstead is given credit for making the first Hollywood Vitaphone movie short with Warner Brothers in 1927 called Carnival Night in Paris where Lew Ayres was discovered playing banjo. The three music selections for the Vitaphone production where listed as follows: 1. Volga Boatman, 2. At Sundown, 3. Rosy Cheeks.

Halstead was on the cover of Billboard issue of July 27, 1935 at that time known as Henry "Hank" Halstead and His Cocoanut Grove Orchestra playing at the Hotel-Park Central, New York.

Phil Harris played drums and Red Nichols played trumpet as they were members of Henry Halstead's band in the 1920s.

Cliff Arquette an actor, comedian, was also a night club pianist, and joined the Henry Halstead Orchestra in 1923.

Halstead recorded for Victor Records, and broadcast on all major radio networks, such as Columbia, National, and Mutual Broadcasting Companies. Halstead led his band and played violin. The original Halstead violin still exists and has dozens of band member signatures on the violin. Henry was considered one of the best young band leaders and gave his dance patrons plenty of entertainment. His music maintained excellent rhythm and a crowded floor throughout the night stood testimony that he was playing good dance music.

Henry Halstead was born November 16, 1897 in El Paso, Texas and died on March 19, 1984 in California. As a young boy, Halstead learned to play violin. After studying the violin for 10 years, Hank Halstead turned professional when 19 playing clubs and hotels at the tables. In 1919, Henry Halstead played violin with 2 other men that went on to become famous Big Band Leaders, Abe Lyman and Gus Arnheim. The 3 young men played in a band together at the Sunset Inn in Santa Monica, California. Abe Lyman played drums and Gus Arnheim played piano. Roy Fox, not well known in America but later a ranking bandmaster in England, played the trumpet on occasion with them. Even early on Halstead dressed the part, a tuxedo was a must and he must have worn out a few of them over the next 20 years.

In 1923 Halstead, then director of the Palais Royal Orchestra, predicts for the coming year that even though dance steps may change, the music as far as tempo and rhythm will remain about the same as in 1922. And jazz, minus the shrieking and wailing, toned down with even a touch more of the classical than the case in the year now coming to a close, will continue to reign supreme in the popularity of dance fans. "Balance of harmony is the secret." Mr. Halstead said. "Careful selection of instruments and musicians are next in importance, but unless harmony is perfectly balanced that soft, dreamy effect so necessary in the modern fox trot is lost." The Buescher phone, an unusual instrument for a dance orchestra, is featured in the Palais Royal Orchestra.

Henry Halstead was married to blues vocalist Marjorie Whitney who sang with the King's Jesters.

The early Henry Halstead Orchestra during the early 1920s was enormously successful at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco for about three years. This was the early days of radio, and he had the good fortune to broadcast over the very powerful (for those days) KGO in San Francisco. He was "on" for about an hour a night, six nights a week. As a consequence, his band became the best known organization in the western United States and Hawaii.

This band broke up in the late summer of 1925. Hank decided that he would go out on his own - form a new band, literally "hire a hall" and run his own enterprise.. The band consisted of: Ted Schilling, Glenn Hopkins, Ross Dugat, Ernie Reed, Chuck Moll, Abe Maule, Hal Chanslor, Zebe Mann, Phil Harris and Craig Leach. When they joined Halstead in Seattle the band was a huge success. In the spring of 1926, the Halstead band came to Los Angeles to play Miller's Lafayette. Red Nichols joined the band for this opening.

Many vocalists and entertainers performed with the Henry Halstead Orchestra. Maxine Harding with her deep-dyed blues singing was a Soloist with Henry Halstead's Orchestra. Clarence Rand's voice also was featured, so was Myrtle Harwin, Niela Goodelle, Margaret Reed, Peggy Mann.