Barney Rapp

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Barney Rapp
Birth name Barney Rappaport
Born (1900-03-25)March 25, 1900
New Haven, Connecticut
Died October 12, 1970(1970-10-12) (aged 70)
Cincinnati, Ohio
Occupation(s) Bandleader, jazz musician
Labels RCA Victor
Associated acts Barney Rapp and his Orchestra

Barney Rapp (March 25, 1900 – October 12, 1970) was an American orchestra leader and jazz musician from the 1920s to the 1940s.


Born Barney Rappaport[1] in New Haven, Connecticut, Rapp first organized a jazz orchestra in the 1920s that played dancing music called "Barney Rapp and his New Englanders". He later moved to Ohio, becoming a regional attraction. Several albums were recorded on RCA Victor and Bluebird. Rapp, unlike most orchestra leaders of his day, normally played the band's drums. His band was active through the 1940s, launching many artists who later rose to fame. One of these was Doris Kappelhoff, who replaced the band's singer, Rapp's wife Ruby, when she became pregnant. Rapp reportedly asked her name, and on hearing it said: "It’s a very nice name but a little too long for the marquee outside." He suggested the name Doris Day after hearing her sing "Day After Day".

Another of his finds was the Clooney Sisters, Rosemary and Betty. After hearing the teenagers sing on the radio in Cincinnati, he recommended them to Tony Pastor. Others who got their start with Rapp include Eddie Ryan, Bunny Welcome, Marty Quinto, Sy Quinto, and his (Barney Rapp's) younger brother, Barry Wood, who went on to perform with Buddy Rogers.

Rapp broadcast his music on the radio and owned a nightclub, The Sign of the Drum, in Cincinnati, where his band frequently played. It was located on Reading Road in Bond Hill. While in Ohio he briefly worked as the musical entertainment director for The Beverly Hills Country Club located in Northern Kentucky alongside the Ohio River. His official position was assistant to Frank Sennes, official entertainment director of the venue in the late 1940s.

Personal life[edit]

Barney Rapp married Ruby Wright in 1936. Wright had started her career with a couple of friends at Lake Manitou in Indiana. The trio, the Call Sisters, sang for $10 a week plus room and board.[2] After this stint was through, they joined the Charlie Davis orchestra in Milwaukee, then traveled to Chicago. Here, the group broke up, and Wright sang for bands in Chicago and New York before she met Rapp. After their marriage, she toured with the orchestra all over the country until their own nightclub opened.

After Ruby became pregnant, she stayed at home for several years to raise four daughters: Susie, Patty, Cindy, and Nancy. Rapp continued to support his family with music and the nightclub.

In September 1956, the Rapps started the Reds' Rooters Fan Club. His wife also became a member and trustee of the Rosie Reds, a women's nonprofit organization that is a Reds' fan club and fund-raising organization. After Barney's death in 1970, Rapp's wife took over the leadership of the Barney Rapp Agency and the Reds' Rooters. In 1976, she created the Barney Rapp Travel agency and traveled with its tours. She retired from the agency in 1991.


Rapp died on October 12, 1970, and is buried at Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio in the Memorial Mausoleum, E-28, D-0. Ruby died in 2004.


  1. ^ Lee, William F.; Taylor, Billy (2005). "2". American Big Bands. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 73. ISBN 0-634-08054-7. 
  2. ^ Obituary in The Cincinnati Enquirer.

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