Joe Bushkin

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Joe Bushkin
Joe Bushkin.jpg
Background information
Birth nameJoseph Bushkin
BornNovember 7, 1916
New York City, New York, U.S.
OriginNew York City, New York, U.S.
DiedNovember 3, 2004(2004-11-03) (aged 87)
Santa Barbara, California, U.S.
GenresJazz, swing
InstrumentsPiano, Trumpet

Joe Bushkin (November 7, 1916 – November 3, 2004) was an American jazz pianist.

Born in New York City, Bushkin began his career by playing trumpet and piano with New York City dance bands, including Frank LaMare's Band at the Roseland Ballroom in Brooklyn. He joined Bunny Berigan's band in 1935, played with Eddie Condon from 1936–37, and with Max Kaminsky and Joe Marsala, before rejoining Berigan in 1938.[1][2] He then left to join Muggsy Spanier's Ragtime Band in 1939. From the late 1930s through to the late 1940s he also worked with Tommy Dorsey & Eddie Condon on records, radio and television. He worked with Dorsey for Bing Crosby in 1940 on the Road to Morocco soundtrack and several commercial sessions. Wartime United States army air corp turned him back into a trumpeter; he also recorded with Lester Young on piano and directed music for Moss Hart’s morale-booster Winged Victory on Broadway for six months before serving in the South Pacific. After his service in World War II he worked with Louis Armstrong, Bud Freeman and Benny Goodman.[1]

Bushkin performed with Louis Armstrong and his All Stars with Velma Middleton singing vocals for the famed ninth Cavalcade of Jazz concert held at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles. The concert was produced by Leon Hefflin, Sr. on June 7, 1953. Also featured that day were Roy Brown and his Orchestra, Don Tosti and His Mexican Jazzmen, Earl Bostic, Nat "King" Cole, and Shorty Rogers and his Orchestra.[3]

He married Francice Netcher, elder sister of socialite Mollie Wilmot. The couple had four children – Nina, Maria, Terasa, and Christina. They lived in Santa Barbara, California, on a ranch.

His best-known composition might be "Oh! Look at Me Now",[1] with John DeVries, written when he worked in Tommy Dorsey's band. That song would become Frank Sinatra's second hit and one of his most enduring songs right after "Polka Dots and Moonbeams."

One of Bushkin's television appearances was on a thirty-minute Judy Garland musical special produced for the General Electric Theater which aired on April 8, 1956 on the CBS Television Network. According to Coyne Steven Sanders, author of the book Rainbow's End: The Judy Garland Show, Bushkin was a last-minute replacement for the classic pianist Leonard Pennario. On that program, he accompanied Garland on piano as she sang the songs "Last Night When We Were Young" and "Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries." (Sanders, Coyne Steven, Rainbow's End: The Judy Garland Show pgs. 20-21 - Zebra Books - Kensington Publishing Company).

In his 60s, Bushkin's semi-retirement was ended by an offer from Bing Crosby for them to tour together in 1976 and 1977; Bushkin also appeared on Crosby's 1975 Christmas TV special with Fred Astaire. He also performed in a concert series at New York's St. Regis hotel in 1984 that celebrated his 50 years in show business.[1]

Bushkin died in Santa Barbara, California, in 2004. "He had hoped to live to 88, as a piano had 88 keys."


  • 1950 I Love a Piano (Atlantic)
  • 1950 Piano Moods - Joe Bushkin (Columbia)
  • 1951 After Hours with Joe Bushkin (Columbia)
  • 1954 Piano and Rhythm (Royal)
  • 1955 The Jazz Keyboards, compilation with Lennie Tristano, Marian McPartland, Bobby Scott (Savoy)
  • 1956 A Fellow Needs a Girl (Capitol)
  • 1956 Midnight Rhapsody (Capitol)
  • 1956 At Twilight with Eddie Heywood (Epic)
  • 1957 Skylight Rhapsody (Capitol)
  • 1957 Bushkin Spotlights Berlin (Capitol)
  • 1958 Blue Angels (Capitol)
  • 1958 Nightsounds (Capitol)
  • 1958 I Get a Kick Out of Porter (Capitol)
  • 1958 Piano After Midnight with Buck Clayton (Fontana)
  • 1959 Listen to the Quiet (Capitol)
  • 1964 In Concert, Town Hall (Reprise)
  • 1966 Night Sounds San Francisco with Marty Paich (Decca)
  • 1977 Play It Again Joe (United Artists)
  • 1979 The World Is Waiting with Mel Powell (Commodore)

With Ruth Brown

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Feather, Leonard & Gitler, Ira (2007). The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz. Oxford University Press.
  2. ^ Down Beat's 88 Keys to Fame.
  3. ^ “Satchmo Band Spice To Open Air Show” Article Los Angeles Sentinel May 28, 1953.
  4. ^ "Joe Bushkin".