Frank Driggs

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Frank Driggs
Born (1930-01-29)January 29, 1930
Manchester, Vermont
Died September 20, 2011(2011-09-20) (aged 81)
New York, New York
Nationality American
Occupation record producer and archivist

Frank Driggs (January 29, 1930 – September 20, 2011)[1] was an American record producer for Columbia records and jazz historian and author, best known for his collection of over 100,000 pieces of Jazz memorabilia including photographs,[2] 314 oral history recordings[3] and other items.


Frank Driggs first became enamored with jazz and swing listening to late-night broadcasts from hotels and ballrooms in the 1930s. A 1952 Princeton University graduate with a degree in political science, Driggs moved to Manhattan where he worked first as an NBC page.[4] Later he joined with Marshall Stearns, founder of the Institute of Jazz Studies, and others in documenting jazz history. In the late 1950s, the record producer John Hammond hired Driggs to assist him at Columbia Records. Soon Driggs was producing records, organizing recording sessions and putting out important re-issues of 78 rpm recordings by Fletcher Henderson, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington and Gene Krupa. His work at Columbia included Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings (for which he received a Grammy in 1991). Driggs later produced recordings for Epic, Okeh, MCA, Stash, and Time-Life Records, before reviving the Bluebird label for RCA Records in the early 1970s.

Soon after Driggs moved to Manhattan in 1952, he began gathering and saving posters flies, ticket stubs recordings and amateur photographs. Much of his collection are publicity stills of Jazz artists. By 2005 his collection had included over 100,000 images. Many of the photographed are not labeled or indexed. Driggs relied on his own system of sorting and personal memory the musicians in the pictures.[5] In 1977 Driggs retired from the music industry and afterwards made most of his income from reproduction fees from his collection. Many of his images in the 2001 documentary miniseries Jazz produced by Ken Burns for PBS. While much of his collection is of Jazz artists, Drigg's holdings contain a sizable collection of blues, rock, dance and movie artists. In 2005 Driggs offered up his collection of photographs for $1.5 million.[2] In 2013, Jazz at Lincoln Center announced their acquisition of the collection.[6] For many years Driggs kept his collection of images in his basement of his home in Flatbush until 2005 when he moved in with the late musicologist and writer Joan Peyser in the Manhattan borough of New York City.[2] Driggs was found dead in his Manhattan home on Tuesday, September 20, 2011. He died of natural causes. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York City.


  • Frank Driggs & Harris Lewine Black Beauty, White Heat: A Pictorial History of Classic Jazz 1920-1950, Da Capo Press, 1996 ISBN 0-306-80672-X
  • Frank Driggs & Chuck Haddix Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop: A History, 2005, Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-504767-2


  1. ^ U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current (database on-line). Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.
  2. ^ a b c Kilgannon, Corey. "...And All That Jazz Memorabilia!", The New York Times, March 1, 2005. Accessed September 12, 2011
  3. ^ "Marr Sound Archives: Frank Driggs Jazz Oral History Collection"
  4. ^ Adler, Jerry. "Jazz Man"[permanent dead link],, September, 2005. Accessed September 12, 2011.
  5. ^ "Photos of Jazz's Memory Lane, for Sale" National Public Radio, March 15, 2005. Accessed September 12, 2011
  6. ^ Tamarkin, Jeff (04/05/13). "Jazz at Lincoln Center Acquires Frank Driggs Collection". JazzTimes News. JazzTimes. Retrieved November 19, 2014.  Check date values in: |date= (help)

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