The California Ramblers

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The California Ramblers were an American jazz group that recorded hundreds of songs for many different record labels throughout the 1920s. Four members of the band – Red Nichols, Jimmy Dorsey, Tommy Dorsey, and Adrian Rollini – went on to front big bands in later decades.[1]


The band was formed in 1920 by manager and agent Ed Kirkeby.[2] Its members were from Ohio but chose the name California Ramblers because they thought people would be less inclined to listen to a jazz band from the Midwest. The Ramblers Inn in Pelham, New York, was named after the band and became their base. The band was instantly successful and were one of the most prolific recording groups in the 1920s.[3]

The Ramblers recorded for Vocalion Records in November 1921. In early 1922, the front man for the California Ramblers, violinist Oscar Adler, told Kirkeby, that he, Adler, was going to take over as the band's manager and booking agent. Ed Kirkeby, who was influential in New York music, had the B. F. Keith Circuit forbid the Ramblers from playing in their restaurants, dance halls, or theaters. By the end of March 1922, the original band broke up. They made their last recording on March 16, 1922, for Arto Records.

The banjo player and founder of the Ramblers, Ray Kitchingman, asked Kirkeby if the band could be reformed and suggested a band playing at Shanley's Dance Hall which was led by violinist Arthur Hand. Kirkeby agreed, and the new band of California Ramblers made their first recording on April 3, 1922, for Emerson Records. In late 1924 the Ramblers signed a contract with Columbia Records and then, in conjunction with their manager Ed Kirkeby, agreed to waive all royalties to Columbia for the right to record for other companies under pseudonyms.[4] They recorded for nearly every independent label in the U.S., Canada, and the UK, using over 100 unique aliases.[5]


  1. ^ "Has Anybody Seen My Gal by California Ramblers". Retrieved 2016-07-15.
  2. ^ Gammond, Peter (1991). The Oxford Companion to Popular Music. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 97. ISBN 0-19-311323-6.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-02-07. Retrieved 2007-03-06. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^
  5. ^ "List of pseudonyms".