Wilbur Hall (musician)

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Wilbur Francis Hall, sometimes billed as Willie Hall (November 18, 1894 - June 30, 1983), was a United States trombonist, violinist, and entertainer.

Hall was born in Shawnee Mound, Missouri. He was working in vaudeville when in 1924 he was hired by Paul Whiteman. Hall stayed with Whiteman's orchestra until 1930, mainly featured as a trombone player (his speciality on this instrument was a lightning-fast rendition of Felix Arndt's Nola, which he also recorded in 1929). However, Hall was apt a playing several other instruments - conventional as well as unconventional. Amongst the latter was his ability to play melodies on a bicycle pump. Whiteman's main arranger Ferde Grofé even wrote a special feature number for Hall on this "instrument" called Free Air: Based on Noises from a Garage. Hall can also be seen playing his pump as well as some tricky novelty violin playing in the early color film The King of Jazz. This routine, a frantically athletic rendition of "Pop Goes the Weasel", played while wearing "slapshoes", a common comedy prop from the days of Vaudeville, partly resembles the earlier work by vaudevillian Little Tich.[1]

After leaving Whiteman Hall toured as a solo act with the Publix circuit and then joined the Ken Murray Blackouts in Los Angeles. Later he toured USA as well as the world together with his wife, mixing music with comedy, He also appeared on television where he would reprise his violin bit from The King of Jazz on the Ken Murray and Spike Jones shows in the 1950s and on The Gong Show in the 1970s. He died in Newbury Park, California.

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Sources[edit]

  • Don Rayno: Paul Whiteman - Pioneer in American Music, Volume 1 (Lanham, Maryland and Oxford 2003)
  • DVD. "The Best of Spike Jones" (1955, 3-disk, Infinity Entertainment, 2009, previously released on VHS videotape.)

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