Dick McDonough

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Dick McDonough
Dick McDonough.jpg
Background information
Birth nameRichard Tobin McDonough
Born(1904-07-30)July 30, 1904
New York, New York, U.S.
Died(1938-05-25)May 25, 1938
New York, New York, U.S.
Instrument(s)Guitar, tenor banjo
Years active1921–1938

Richard Tobin McDonough (July 30, 1904 – May 25, 1938) was an American jazz guitarist and banjoist. Perhaps best remembered for his duets with fellow guitarist Carl Kress, McDonough appeared on numerous record sessions and radio broadcasts throughout the 1920s and 1930s.

McDonough began playing banjo and mandolin in high school. An athlete, he initially played left-handed because, according to McDonough, that was how he held his hockey stick. At Georgetown University, he performed professionally at weekend dances and two years later started a band. He attended Columbia Law School after college and while there played with bands in New York City. McDonough played with Red Nichols in 1927 as a banjoist,[1] and soon after played with Paul Whiteman. He began studying the guitar and eventually was in demand for session work, recording with The Dorsey Brothers, Red Nichols, and Miff Mole.[1] In the 1930s, he performed in a duo with jazz guitarist Carl Kress and cut several sessions with an orchestra under his own name, in addition to backing many other recording artists.[2]

Other credits include session work with Mildred Bailey, Smith Ballew, The Boswell Sisters, Rube Bloom, Chick Bullock, The Charleston Chasers, Cliff Edwards, Gene Gifford, Benny Goodman, Adelaide Hall, Annette Hanshaw, Billie Holiday, Baby Rose Marie, Glenn Miller, Irving Mills, Red McKenzie, Johnny Mercer, Red Norvo, Fred Rich, Adrian Rollini, Pee Wee Russell, Ben Selvin, Artie Shaw, Frank Signorelli, Jack Teagarden, Claude Thornhill, Frankie Trumbauer, Joe Venuti, Don Voorhees, and Ethel Waters.[3] He played in the Jam Session at Victor with Fats Waller, Bunny Berigan, and George Wettling.

McDonough struggled with alcohol abuse during his adult life and died of pneumonia in May 1938.[1] The NYC Death Index recorded his spouse's name at the time as Dorothy Wiggman.[4]


  • Dick McDonough and His Orchestra Vol. 1 (Swing Time)
  • Dick McDonough and His Orchestra Vol. 2 (Swing Time)
  • The Guitar Genius of Dick McDonough and Carl Kress in the Thirties (Jazz Archives, 1976)
  • Pioneers of Jazz Guitar (Retrieval, 1997)


  1. ^ a b c Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 1559. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  2. ^ Kernfeld, Barry (2002). Kernfeld, Barry (ed.). The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz. Vol. 2 (2nd ed.). New York: Grove's Dictionaries Inc. p. 172. ISBN 1-56159-284-6.
  3. ^ Yanow, Scott (2013). The Great Jazz Guitarists. San Francisco: Backbeat. p. 131. ISBN 978-1-61713-023-6.
  4. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Dick McDonough". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 August 2016.