Lou Busch

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Lou Busch
Lou Busch
Lou Busch
Background information
Birth nameLouis Ferdinand Bush
Also known asJoe "Fingers" Carr
Born(1910-07-18)July 18, 1910
OriginLouisville, Kentucky, U.S.
DiedSeptember 19, 1979(1979-09-19) (aged 69)
Camarillo, California
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter, producer
Years active1930–1979
LabelsCapitol, Warner Bros.

Louis Ferdinand Busch (July 18, 1910 – September 19, 1979) was an American record producer, musician and songwriter, who was best known for performing as a pianist under the pseudonymn Joe "Fingers" Carr.


Louis Bush was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, during the ragtime era and the jazz age. Blessed with an inherent music talent, he was already leading a ragtime and jazz band Lou Bush and His Tickle Toe Four, by the time he was 12 years old.[1]

At 16, he left school and home for a career as a professional musician, playing with the likes of "Hot Lips" Henry Busse, Clyde McCoy and George Olson.[1] After a few years on the road, his desire to learn more about music theory led him to study at the Cincinnati Music Conservatory in Ohio in the early 1930s.[2]

Following his music education break, Busch became the pianist for Hal Kemp's "sweet music" band for the remainder of the 1930s.[1] Lou also honed his arranging skills, being offered an arranging position when arranger John Scott Trotter left the band in 1936. This position was shared with another key arranger, Hal Mooney, and was invaluable experience for them both. After Kemp died in a car crash in 1940 and the group disbanded, Busch and Mooney made their way to California to work as studio musicians and whatever gigs they could find. This was interrupted by World War II, where Lou spent three years in the Army.[2]

Capitol Records[edit]

After his tour of duty, Busch decided to dive back into the music business. It was around this time that singer-songwriter Johnny Mercer was recruiting artists and employees for his recently formed label, Capitol Records, so Busch was hired for the radio transcription service in 1946.[1] He was in charge of production of promotional radio shows featuring Capitol artists for distribution to stations around the country.

By 1949 he had been promoted to A&R man.[1]

One summer, Busch backed singer Jo Stafford and conductor Paul Weston on the hit record "Ragtime Cowboy Joe". The success encouraged both him and the label to release his own original single, "Ivory Rag", early in 1950.[1] It was the first piece incorporated into the "Crazy Otto Medley" by German pianist Fritz Schulz-Reichel, which was later associated with Johnny Maddox in the U.S.

It was in 1962 that he formed Burning Bush Music ASCAP.

His biggest hits from the 1950s include "Portuguese Washerwoman", "Sam's Song", a cover of Del Wood's version of "Down Yonder", and the international hit "Zambezi".[2] Some of the singles include his vocal backup group, the Carr Hops. Often overlooked are several mainstream and jazz sides he recorded as Lou Busch, featuring exciting band or orchestral arrangements.

One Busch collaboration with Milton DeLugg, "Rollercoaster", became the closing theme of the TV panel show What's My Line? for the entirety of its original network run, from 1950 to 1967.

Warner Brothers Records[edit]

Busch eventually left Capitol for Warner Bros. Records where he took on the same general responsibilities.[1] Busch returned to arranging and conducting responsibilities again, one of the most notable being the musical force behind comic singer Allan Sherman.[2] Sherman explained Busch’s choice to change the spelling of his surname: “Lou thought it would look fancier with a ‘c’ in it.”[3] A few later albums were released on the ragtime-centric Dot label, and in the late 1970s he produced one more effort with friend and jazz pianist Lincoln Mayorga, complete with a couple of new tunes, The Brinkerhoff Piano Company.


He married to actress-singer Janet Blair in 1943; the union ended in divorce in 1950. He wed singer Margaret Whiting in 1950,[4] and their daughter was born that December. Whiting also sued him for divorce, in 1953.[5]


In the late 1970s, Busch did some live performances with Mayorga and others in Southern California. He died in Camarillo, California, on September 19, 1979, as a result of injuries sustained in an automobile crash. He was interred in the Westwood Village Mortuary near UCLA.[2]


Album Record label
Bar Room Piano Capitol
Rough House Piano Capitol
And His Ragtime Band Capitol
And His Swingin' String Band [1958] Capitol ST-1217
Plays The Classics Capitol
Mr. Ragtime Capitol
Fireman's Ball Capitol T-527
Honky Tonk Street Parade Capitol
The Hits of Joe Fingers Carr Capitol
The World's Greatest Ragtime Piano Player Warner Bros
Brassy Piano Warner Bros
The Riotous, Raucous Red-Hot 20s Warner Bros
Together for the Last Time (with Ira Ironstrings) Warner Bros

[6] [7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Joe "Fingers" Carr". Spaceagepop.com. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e "JOE "FINGERS" CARR". Rockabilly.nl. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  3. ^ Murphy, George (February 24, 1963). "Allan, the Folk Singer, First To Admit Singer He's Not". Democrat and Chronicle. New York, Rochester. p. 6 B. Retrieved May 1, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ “Couple Wed Second Time.” Albany Times-Union, 20 August 1950.
  5. ^ “Margaret Whiting Said She Had to Dodge Dishes.” Salamanaca (NY) Republican-Press, 17 December 1953.
  6. ^ This is Ragtime by Terry Waldo (Da Capo Press) page 211 ISBN 0-306-80439-5
  7. ^ "Last two albums were combined into one CD by Collectables Records in 2007 (COL 7869)". Oldies.com. Retrieved 19 February 2019.

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