|Birth name||Ernest Lawrence Fields|
|Born||August 28, 1904|
Nacogdoches, Texas, United States
|Died||May 1, 1997 (aged 92)|
Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States
|Occupation(s)||Trombonist, pianist, arranger, bandleader|
Ernest Lawrence Fields (August 28, 1904 – May 11, 1997) was an American trombonist, pianist, arranger and bandleader. He first became known for leading the Royal Entertainers, a territory band which was based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and toured along a circuit stretching from Kansas City, Kansas, to Dallas, Texas. In later years he led a band that recorded in Los Angeles.
Early life and career
From the late 1920s, he led a band called the Royal Entertainers, and eventually began touring more widely, and recording. Supported by Bob Wills, Fields' band became the first African-American band to play at the landmark Cain's Ballroom in Tulsa. In 1939, he was invited to New York City by John Hammond to record for the Vocalion label, and began to tour nationally. He did not become a star, but continued to work steadily, recording for smaller labels, and gradually transforming his sound through a smaller band and a repertoire shift from big band, swing to R&B. During World War II, he entertained troops both at home and abroad.
He continued to straddle these styles into the 1950s, playing swing standards such as "Tuxedo Junction" and "Begin the Beguine" in a rocking R&B style. In the late 1950s he moved to Los Angeles, joining Rendezvous Records, for whom he ran the house band. This included pianist Ernie Freeman, guitarist Rene Hall (who had previously worked with Fields in the 1930s), saxophonist Plas Johnson, and drummer Earl Palmer. In 1959 this band had an international hit with an R&B version of Glenn Miller's "In the Mood", credited to the Ernie Fields Orchestra, which reached number 4 on the Billboard chart. The track also peaked at number 13 in the UK Singles Chart. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. The band, with minor changes of personnel, went on to record instrumentals under many different names, including B. Bumble and the Stingers, the Marketts and the Routers.
Rendezvous Records folded in late 1963, and Fields retired soon after and returned to Tulsa. He died in May 1997, at the age of 92. In 2013 his family donated his memorabilia to the planned Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture.
- Laprarie, Michael, "Fields, Ernie (1904-1997)", Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture Archived May 31, 2010, at the Wayback Machine (accessed May 14, 2010).
- Thedeadrockstarsclub.com - accessed April 2011
- "Collection memorializing Tulsa musician Ernie Fields Sr. donated to Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture", The Oklahoman, March 8, 2013.
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