Charles Agnew

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Charles Agnew
Also known asCharlie Agnew
BornJune 22, 1901
Died25 October 1978(1978-10-25) (aged 77)
Genresdance band

Charles Agnew (June 22, 1901 – October 25, 1978) [1] was a popular dance-band leader. Most popular in the 1930s as a midwestern territory band appearing in a sequence of hotel ballrooms, he enjoyed a long career that extended into the 1960s.


Charles Agnew was raised in New Jersey.[2] Agnew's band was primarily based in the Chicago area, where he was often engaged at the Aragon Ballroom,[2] the Edgewater Hotel (with Irene Taylor on vocals)[3] and the Stephens Hotel.[4] With co-composers Charles Newman and Audree Collins, he wrote a song called "Slow but Steady" which was copyright in 1931.[5] He appeared, alongside the Paul Whiteman and Gus Edwards orchestras, at the "Marathon Opera" which benefitted the Chicago Herald and Examiner Milk Fund.[6] Through the 1930s his orchestra was heard nationally in the United States on the NBC Radio network.[7][8][9] In 1933 he recorded several songs for Columbia Records, the most popular of which was "Don't Blame Me."[4] The New Yorker magazine reviewed this recording as "richly played."[10] Represented by the Musical Corporation of America, he spent the summer of 1936 playing at the Colonial Hotel in Indiana, where featured vocalists were Lon Saxon and Emrie Ann Lincoln.[11] He continued to lead his dance band into the 1940s.[12] During World War II he actively toured the country, playing for the benefit of enlisted personnel[2] and continuing his hotel engagements.[13] While many big band leaders disbanded, Agnew kept his unit together until the late 1950s. At that point he downsized to a smaller group, until retiring about 1968.[2]

Charles Agnew could play many different instruments, from disparate classifications.[2] He was receiving treatment for cancer when he died on October 25, 1978 in Waukegan, Illinois.[2]


Title Recording Date Issue Notes
Don't Blame Me July 25, 1933 Columbia 2793-D [14]
My Last Year's Girl July 25, 1933 Columbia 2797-D [14]
To Be or Not To Be In Love July 25, 1933 Columbia 2797-D [14]
Trouble in Paradise July 25, 1933 Columbia 2793-D [14]


  1. ^ "Charlie Agnew", in American Big Bands, William F. Lee, ed. (Hal Leonard Corporation, 2005) p87
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Deaths Elsewhere - Charles Agnew". The Toledo Blade. October 26, 1978. p. 23. Retrieved July 17, 2013.
  3. ^ "Co-Hop Leaders Obtain Taylor to Bolster Bill". The Daily Trojan. January 19, 1937. p. 1. Retrieved July 17, 2013.
  4. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research, Inc. p. 21. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  5. ^ Catalog of Copyright Entries: Musical compositions, Part 3. Library of Congress, Copyright Office. 1932. p. 803. Retrieved July 17, 2013.
  6. ^ Rayno, Don (2012). Paul Whiteman: Pioneer in American Music, 1930-1967. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 499. ISBN 9780810882041.
  7. ^ Butterfield, C. E. (December 26, 1931). "Today's Radio Programs" (PDF). The Poughkeepsie Eagle-News. p. 5. Retrieved July 17, 2013.
  8. ^ "Radio". The Lewiston Daily Sun. Lewiston, Maine. March 29, 1932. p. 10. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
  9. ^ "Radio News and Programs" (PDF). The Wisconsin State Journal. April 26, 1936. p. 14. Retrieved July 17, 2013.
  10. ^ The New Yorker: 43. August 26, 1933.
  11. ^ Tombaugh, Wendell C. "HISTORICAL TRIVIA 1936-1940 - Fulton County, Indiana - From The Rochester News-Sentinel" (PDF). Fulton County, Indiana Public Library. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 16, 2012. Retrieved July 17, 2013.
  12. ^ "Hadassah Group Plans Benefit Affair". The Jewish Criterion. March 15, 1940. p. 11.
  13. ^ "Orchestra Notes". Billboard. August 28, 1943. p. 16. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
  14. ^ a b c d Abrams, Steve; Settlemier, Tyrone (December 21, 2012). "COLUMBIA 78rpm numerical listing discography: 2500-D to 3000-D". Online Discographical Project. Retrieved July 17, 2013.