Clyde Lucas

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Clyde Lucas
Clyde Lucas.jpg
Clyde Lucas promotional picture
Background information
Born c. 1901
Genres Big Band
Instruments Trombone

Clyde Lucas (c. 1901 – after 1945) was an American big-band leader who was popular in the United States in the 1930s and 1940s. He was the leader of Clyde Lucas and His California Dons.

Early years[edit]

Lucas grew up in Los Angeles, California and was of "Chicano" (American Mexican) background. He began his career as a singer and trombonist in the Herb Wiedoeft orchestra, and launched his own band in the early 1930s. The band was versatile, playing a range of styles including popular Mexican tunes, Swing, Hawaiian and Hillbilly.[1][2] The typical line-up at that time included four saxophones, two trumpets and a four-piece rhythm section, often with violins. Musicians were expected to be able to play more than one instrument.[3]

In 1934, the Morrison Hotel and the Terrace Garden, both in Chicago, employed Lucas and his Dons.[4][5] As the thirties progressed, "Clyde Lucas and his California Dons" grew in popularity, releasing records and playing on the radio.[3] The band also recorded background music for some of the early talkies.[1] In September 1938, Paramount Pictures released an 11-minute movie "short" called Lights, Action, Lucas, featuring the band.[6] Other headliner shorts released around this time included Listen to Lucas (1938), Meet the Maestros (1938) and Clyde Lucas and His Orchestra (1939)[7]


Gloria Wood, a popular singer from the 1940s through to the 1970s made her first recordings with the Clyde Lucas band.[8] Singles released for Elite Records in 1941 included Sometimes and Somebody nobody knows, with flip sides Rose O'Day and When roses bloom again.[9] Other singles from Elite that year included Shrine of St. Cecelia, I said No and Deep in the Heart of Texas.[10] In 1942 Lucas released a cover of Glenn Miller's A string of pearls, but reviews were not favorable.[11]

The band did not appeal to every musical taste. One radio announcer "accidentally" said "You are listening to the mucous of Clyde Lucas".[12] However, in 1943 Billboard Magazine reported that Lucas had abandoned the schmaltzy California Dons, with its strong violin section, and was now heading a more modern swing ensemble. The band was still heavy on brass, with five saxophones and five other brass instruments besides rhythm and drums. A newcomer to the scene named Loren Helberg was featured as a tenor sax soloist, and the vocalist Teeny Riley had replaced Patty Ross.[13]

The band continued to play in hotels and at balls through the 1940s. Lucas's band played in the July 1941 Police Ball and Reception in Troy, New York.[14] In September 1942 the band was playing at the Hotel Claridge in Memphis, Tennessee and getting good reviews.[15] In September 1943 the band was at the Tune Town Ballroom in St. Louis, Missouri.[13] In December 1945 the band was playing the Biltmore Hotel in Providence, Rhode Island.[16] The band eventually disbanded towards the end of the forties.[3]


  1. ^ a b "Clyde Lucas and his California Dons". Big Bands Database Plus. Archived from the original on 2010-06-04. Retrieved 2010-10-12. 
  2. ^ "Herb Wiedoeft". Solid!. Archived from the original on 2011-01-01. Retrieved 2010-10-12. 
  3. ^ a b c Walker 1989, pp. 260
  4. ^ Sengstock 2004, pp. 91,217
  5. ^ "Clyde Lucas Booked for Longer Stay at Terrace Garden". Down Beat: 1. July 1934. 
  6. ^ Lights, Action, Lucas! (1938) at the Internet Movie Database
  7. ^ Clyde Lucas at the Internet Movie Database
  8. ^ Hollis & Ehrbar 2006, pp. 45
  9. ^ Ruppli & Novitsky 1993, pp. 676
  10. ^ "Elite 5000 series numerical listing". THE ONLINE DISCOGRAPHICAL PROJECT. Retrieved 2010-10-12. 
  11. ^ "On the Records". Billboard Magazine. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 51 (12): 66. 21 Mar 1942. Retrieved 2010-10-12. 
  12. ^ Goffman 1981, pp. 248
  13. ^ a b Wells, C. V. (11 September 1943). "Clyde Lucas". Billboard Magazine. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 55 (37): 13. Retrieved 2010-10-12. 
  14. ^ Nielsen & Nielsen 2001, pp. 43
  15. ^ Johnson (26 Sep 1942). "Clyde Lucas". Billboard Magazine. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 54 (38): 21. Retrieved 2010-10-12. 
  16. ^ "Music – As Written". Billboard Magazine. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 57 (48): 16. 1 Dec 1945. Retrieved 2010-10-12. 

Bibliography for references[edit]

  • Hollis, Tim; Ehrbar, Greg (2006). Mouse tracks: the story of Walt Disney Records. Univ. Press of Mississippi. ISBN 1-57806-849-5. 
  • Sengstock, Charles A. (2004). That toddlin' town: Chicago's white dance bands and orchestras, 1900–1950. Music in American life. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-02954-7. 
  • Walker, Leo (1989). The big band almanac. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80345-3. 
  • Nielsen, Brian; Nielsen, Becky (2001). Troy in vintage postcards. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7385-0903-5. 
  • Ruppli, Michel; Novitsky, Ed (1993). The Mercury Labels: The 1945–1956 era. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 0-313-29031-8. 
  • Goffman, Erving (1981). Forms of talk. University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 0-8122-1112-X. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Colin Larkin (1998). "Lucas, Clyde". The encyclopedia of popular music: Louvin, Charlie – Paul, Clarence. 5 (3rd ed.). Macmillan. p. 3351. ISBN 978-0-333-74134-4. 
  • Roy Liebman (2003). "Lucas, Clyde". Vitaphone films: a catalogue of the features and shorts. McFarland. p. 370. ISBN 978-0-7864-1279-2. 

External links[edit]