Jan Garber

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Jan Garber
Jan Garber.jpg
Jan Garber, c. 1942
Background information
Birth name Jacob Charles Garber
Born (1894-11-05)November 5, 1894
Died (1977-10-05)October 5, 1977
Shreveport, Louisiana
Genres Jazz, big band
Occupation(s) Musician, bandleader
Instruments Violin
Years active 1920–1970s

Jan Garber (born Jacob Charles Garber,[1] November 5, 1894 – October 5, 1977) was an American jazz bandleader.


Garber was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. He had his own band by the time he was 21. He became known as "The Idol of the Airwaves" in his heyday of the 1920s and 1930s, playing jazz in the vein of contemporaries such as Guy Lombardo. Garber played violin with the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra after World War I and formed the Garber-Davis Orchestra with pianist Milton Davis from 1921–1924. After parting with Davis, he formed his own orchestra, playing both "sweet" and "hot" 1920s dance music. He was hit hard by the Great Depression, and in the 1930s, he refashioned his ensemble into a big band and recorded a string of successful records for Victor. During World War II, Garber began playing swing jazz, a rather unexpected turn; his arranger during this time was Gray Rains and his vocalist was Liz Tilton. The recording restrictions in America during the war eventually made his ensemble unfeasible, and he returned to "sweet" music after the war, continuing to lead ensembles until 1971. His last show was in Houston. Garber died in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1977 after having been ill for a length of time.[2]


Called the "Idol of the Airwaves," Garber was active on radio in the 1920s and 1930s. The table below shows some of his broadcasting activities.[3]

Year Group's Name Station or Network
1922 Garber's Swiss Garden Orchestra WLW
1926 Jan Garber and His Musical Clowns WLW
1929 Jan Garber and His Musical Clowns WABC (CBS)
1933 Jan Garber Orchestra NBC
1934 Jan Garber Orchestra KLRA
1935-36 Jan Garber Orchestra WOR
1939 Jan Garber Orchestra Mutual

Garber also had a 15-minute, five-days-a-week radio program, the Jan Garber Show. It was distributed by Capitol Transcriptions.[4] He appeared numerous times on the Burns and Allen radio show.[2]


  • Favorite American Waltzes - 10" LP Coral (CRL 56001) (mono) - (1950)
  • Street of Dreams Decca (DL 4191 and 74191 (stereo)) – (19xx)
  • College Songs Everybody Knows Decca (DL 4319) – (19xx)
  • Dance to the Songs Everybody Knows Decca (DL 4119 and 74119 (stereo)) – (19xx)
  • Catalina Nights Decca (DL 4032 and 74032 (stereo)) – (19xx)
  • You Stepped Out of a Dream Decca (DL 4143 and 74143 (stereo)) – (19xx)
  • Everybody Dance with Jan Garber and His Orchestra Decca (DL 4066 and 74066 (stereo)) – (19xx)
  • Dance Program Decca (DL 4196 and 74196 (stereo)) – (19xx)
  • Moods - Coral (CB 20028, previously released on Decca) - (1973)
  • "Dancing Under the Stars" (Decca) DL 4443 (19xx)
  • "Dance at Home" (Decca) DL 8482 (1957 Mono)
  • "Designed for Dancing" (Decca) DL 8484
  • "Dinah" (Capitol) 804 5285-Z (1947)[5]
  • "Confidentially" Capitol) 804 5284-Y (1947)[6]
  • "Garden of Waltzes" (Capitol) EBF 365 (1952)
  • "Long Ago (and Far Away)" (WDR Feature) 1002
  • "People Will Say We're in Love" (WDR Feature) 1002

Former band members[edit]


Garber moved with his family from Indianapolis to Louisville, Kentucky, when he was three months old, and lived there until he was 13. The family then moved to a small town near Philadelphia. He was the tenth of 12 children.[8]

Garber studied violin at Combs Conservatory in Philadelphia.

  • Wife – Dorothy Comegys (born November 4, 1907, Shreveport, Louisiana); married Garber December 18, 1926; died January 27, 2001, Shreveport
  • Daughter – Janis Garber (singer)
  • Brother – Myron Garber
  • Brother – David S. Garber
  • Brother - Max Garber

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Form I (Draft Card A), Registration No. 1428, WWI Draft Registration Card 3, was a violinist, employed by New Willard Hotel, resided at 1825 F St., NW, Washington, DC
  2. ^ a b "Jan Garber's Services in La". Billboard. October 15, 1977. p. 14. Retrieved June 10, 2015. 
  3. ^ Sies, Luther F. (2014). Encyclopedia of American Radio, 1920-1960, 2nd Edition, Volume 1. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-5149-4. P. 248.
  4. ^ "(Capitol Transcriptions ad)" (PDF). Broadcasting. November 1, 1948. Retrieved 26 January 2015. 
  5. ^ Capital Record Catalog No: 804, Matrix 5285-Z
  6. ^ Capital Record Catalog No: 804, Matrix 5284-Y
  7. ^ https://www.amazon.com/1944-Swing-Band-Vol-1/dp/B000009PTS/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1406908573&sr=8-3&keywords=jan+garber+swing+band
  8. ^ Jan Garber Orchestra Held Over at Mapes, Reno Evening Gazette, August 28, 1964 Reno, Nevada