Durham, Eddie, 1906-1987

Alternative names
Birth 1906-08-19
Death 1987-03-06

Biographical notes:

Eddie Durham, one of the most important Swing Era composer-arrangers, was born in San Marcos, Texas, on August 19, 1906. He was the son of Luella Rabb and Joseph Durham, Sr. Eddie and his brothers formed the Durham Brothers Orchestra in the early 1920s. According to Eddie he began as a professional musician at age ten and at eighteen he was with the 101 Ranch Brass Band. In 1926 he joined a jazz group and toured the Southwest before joining the Blue Devils in 1928. He moved to New York in 1934. Durham's early training in music theory led to his work during the 1930s and 1940s as a jazz composer and arranger. He is credited with being the first person to record an amplified guitar when he was featured on the 1935 Jimmie Lunceford recording of Durham's arrangement of "Hittin' the Bottle". In the 1940s Durham organized his own band, directed an all girl orchestra, the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, and brought together a number of important Texas jazzmen from the Kansas City era. During the 1950s and 1960s he performed less but still worked as an arranger for various groups. He died in New York City on March 6, 1987. His hometown of San Marcos declared August 19th as "Eddie Durham Day" and in 2003 began an annual Eddie Durham Day Musical Tribute and Festival with the long-term goal to establish a Durham Family Archival Museum and Memorial Park.

From the description of Oral history interview with Eddie Durham, 1978 Aug. and Nov. (Texas State University-San Marcos). WorldCat record id: 268957510


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  • Jazz musicians--Biography
  • Big band music


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  • Texas (as recorded)