Eddie Durham

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Eddie Durham
Born(1906-08-19)August 19, 1906
San Marcos, Texas, U.S.
DiedMarch 6, 1987(1987-03-06) (aged 80)
New York City
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, arranger
InstrumentsGuitar, trombone
Years active1920s–1980s
Associated actsWalter Page, Bennie Moten, Jimmie Lunceford, Count Basie

Eddie Durham (August 19, 1906 – March 6, 1987) was an American musician, who pioneered the use of the electric guitar in jazz.[1] He was a guitarist, trombonist, composer, and arranger for the orchestras of Bennie Moten, Jimmie Lunceford, and Count Basie.[1]

With Edgar Battle he composed "Topsy", which was recorded by Count Basie and became a hit for Benny Goodman.[1]

In 1938, Durham co-wrote "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire", with Bennie Benjamin, Sol Marcus and Eddie Seiler. During the 1940s, Durham created Eddie Durham's All-Star Girl Orchestra, an African-American all female swing band that toured the United States and Canada.[2]

Pioneer on the electric guitar[edit]

From 1929, Durham started experimenting to enhance the sound of his guitar using resonators and megaphones. In 1935, he was the first to record an electrically amplified guitar[3] with Jimmie Lunceford in "Hittin' The Bottle" that was recorded in New York for the Decca label.[4] In 1938, Durham recorded single string electric guitar solos with the Kansas City Five (or Six), which were both smallish groups that included members of Count Basie's rhythm section alongside with the tenor saxophone playing of Lester Young.[5]


As leader[edit]

  • Eddie Durham (RCA, 1974)
  • Blue Bone (JSP, 1981)

As sideman[edit]

  • Bennie Motens KC Orchestra (Chicago, 1929 & 1930)
  • Laura Henton (Brunswick, Kansas City, 1929)
  • Bennie Moten Orchestra (Victor, Kansas City, 1930, 1931, 1932)
  • Harry James Orchestra "Jubilee", "When We're Alone", "I Can Dream Can't I" (December 1,1938); "Georgiana", "Blues In The Dark (January 3, 1939)
  • Count Basie Orchestra - all the original hits (Decca, 1938)
  • Kansas City Five, "Good Mornin' Blues" (Commodore, 1938)
  • Kansas City Six, "Way Down Yonder in New Orleans" (Commodore, 1938)
  • Kansas City Six, "Countless Blues" (Commodore, 1938)
  • Glenn Miller, "Glen Island Special*", "Wham ReBop BoomBam*", "Sliphorn Jive*"; "In The Mood, Saint Louis Blues, Tiger Rag, I Want To Be Happy, Moten Swing, Royal Garden Blues, Careless Love and Baby Me**" (Bluebird 1939 & 1940)
  • Jan Savitt Orch. with Bon Bon Tunnell, "Blues In The Groove*", "It's Time To Jump & Shout*", "Wham*", "Tuxedo Junction**", "Dear Old Southland**", "Turkey In The Straw**" (1940) *composer, **arranger
  • Harlan Leonard and His Rockets, Bluebird Label, New York March 11, 1940; Chicago July 15, 1940
  • Frank Humphries Orch, "After You've Gone", "Lonesome Mood" (Pick-Up Label, 1945), "Time & Time Again"
  • Eddie Barefield, Eddie Barefield (RCA, 1973)
  • Count Basie, (1938, 1939) The Original American Decca Recordings (GRP, 1992)
  • The Harlem Blues & Jazz Band (VoCa, all recordings 1977-1980)

Selected arrangements[edit]

  • Bennie Moten: "Moten Swing" (Victor, 1932)
  • Jimmie Lunceford: "Avalon" (Decca, 1935)
    • "Hittin' the Bottle" (Decca, 1935)
    • "Harlem Shout" (Decca, 1936)
    • "Lunceford Special" (Vocalion, 1935)
  • Count Basie: "Time Out" (Decca, 1937)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Colin Larkin, ed. (2002). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Fifties Music (Third ed.). Virgin Books. pp. 115/6. ISBN 1-85227-937-0.
  2. ^ Daniels, Douglas Henry (2006). One O'Clock Jump: The Unforgettable History of the Oklahoma City Blue Devils. Boston: Beacon Press. pp. 193–197.
  3. ^ Zelade, Richard (1987). Lone Star Travel Guide to Texas Hill Country. Plymouth: Taylor Trade Publishing. p. 260. ISBN 978-1-58979609-6.
  4. ^ Abrams, Steve (September 5, 2015). "Decca (USA) 500 - 1000 Numerical Listing". The Online Discographical Project. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
  5. ^ Robert Palmer. Deep Blues. Penguin Books. p. 197. ISBN 978-0-14-006223-6.
  6. ^ Vacher, Peter (2002). Kernfeld, Barry (ed.). The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz. 1 (2nd ed.). New York: Grove's Dictionaries Inc. p. 674. ISBN 1-56159-284-6.