Monday, 30 November 2015

Teddy Wilburn born 30 November 1931

The Wilburn Brothers were a popular American country music duo
from the 1950s to the 1970s consisting of brothers Virgil Doyle Wilburn (July 7, 1930 – October 16, 1982) and Thurman Theodore "Teddy" Wilburn (November 30, 1931 – November 24, 2003).
The brothers were born in Hardy, Arkansas. They first attracted attention as child performers, beginning in 1937, in an act called The Wilburn Children; Roy Acuff discovered them and brought them to the Grand Ole Opry in 1940. Due to federal child labour laws, the Wilburns were forced to leave the Opry after six months.
After growing up, they continued to travel and were regulars on the similar Louisiana Hayride program in Shreveport from 1948 until 1951. After the family act disbanded, and the brothers served stints in the US Army during the Korean War, they continued in 1953 as The Wilburn Brothers touring with Faron Young and Webb Pierce. They signed with Decca Records in May 1954 and had their first hit record the same year titled "Sparkling Brown Eyes." Other notable hits include "Go Away With Me" (1956), "Which One Is To Blame" (1959), "Trouble's Back In Town" (1962), "It's Another World" (1965), and "Hurt Her Once For Me" (1967).

In 1956, the Wilburns were offered the chance to record "Heartbreak Hotel" before Elvis Presley. After hearing the song they decided against recording it, describing it as "strange and almost morbid".
In addition to being successful artists, the Wilburns formed the Wil-helm Talent Agency (with Don Helms) in the early 1960s as well as the Surefire Music Publishing Company in 1963. They were instrumental in launching the careers of many country music legends, most notably Loretta Lynn, whom they signed to their music publishing company. Lynn was the "girl singer" of the Wilburns' touring show between 1960 and 1968 and she made weekly appearances on their syndicated television show from 1963 to 1971 They also helped develop the career of Patty Loveless between 1973 and 1975 by having her tour with them on weekends and during school breaks.
The Wilburn Brothers had a syndicated television program, The Wilburn Brothers Show, which ran from 1963 to 1974, with 354 half-hour episodes produced. Reruns can still be seen on the cable network RFD-TV and in the UK on Rural TV. They were Opry members from 1953 until the time of Doyle's death from cancer in 1982 (at age 52).

Teddy continued with the Opry as a solo artist until his health began to decline in the 1990s. He suffered from PSP and died in 2003, six days before his 72nd birthday.  They are both buried in the Nashville National Cemetery in Nashville, Tennessee.
(Info Wikipedia)

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Merle Travis born 29 November 1917

Merle Robert Travis (November 29, 1917 – October 20, 1983) was an American country and western singer, songwriter, and musician.
Travis was the son of a tobacco farmer but by the time he was four years old, the family had moved to Ebenezer, Kentucky, and his father was working down the mines. Travis’ father often remarked, ‘Another day older and deeper in debt’, a phrase his son used in ‘Sixteen Tons’. His father played the banjo, but Travis preferred the guitar. He befriended two coal miners, Mose Reger and Ike Everly, the father of the Everly Brothers, who demonstrated how to use the thumb for the bass strings while playing the melody on treble strings.
Travis hitched around the country, busking where he could, and in 1935, he joined the Tennessee Tomcats and from there, went to a better-known country group, Clayton McMichen’s Georgia Wildcats. In 1937 he became a member of the Drifting Pioneers, who performed on WLW Cincinnati. In 1943 he recorded for the local King Records label, recording a solo as Bob McCarthy and a duet with Grandpa Jones as the Shepherd Brothers. He and Jones did many radio shows together and many years later, recreated that atmosphere for an album. Travis, Jones and the Delmore Brothers also worked as a gospel quartet, the Browns Ferry Four.
After brief war service in the marines, Travis settled in California. Here he played with several bands, becoming one of the first to appreciate that a guitar could be a lead instrument. His arrangement of ‘Muskrat’ for Tex Ritter was later developed into a hit single for the Everly Brothers. Travis enjoyed success as a solo artist for the newly formed Capitol Records with ‘Cincinnati Lou’, ‘No Vacancy’, ‘Missouri’ and two US country number ones, ‘Divorce Me C.O.D.’ and ‘So Round, So Firm, So Fully Packed’. He co-wrote Capitol’s first million-seller, ‘Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)’ with Tex Williams, who recorded it.

Burl Ives and Josh White were spearheading a craze for folk music, so Capitol producer Lee Gillette asked Travis for a 78 rpm album set of Kentucky folk songs. His eight-song debut, Folk Songs Of Our Hills, included ‘Nine Pound Hammer’ (a rewritten folk song), ‘Dark As A Dungeon’ and ‘Sixteen Tons’, with spoken introductions about the coal mining locale. Although Travis maintained that ‘Sixteen Tons’ was a ‘fun song’, it dealt with the exploitation of miners in the company store. It won a gold record for Tennessee Ernie Ford in 1955 and was parodied by Spike Jones as ‘Sixteen Tacos’ and by Max Bygraves as ‘Seventeen Tons’. Travis himself was also enjoying a country hit with a revival of ‘Wildwood Flower’ with Hank Thompson, and he won acclaim for his portrayal of a young GI in the 1954 movie From Here To Eternity, in which he sang ‘Re-enlistment Blues’.
In 1948 Travis devised a solid-body electric guitar, which was built for him by Paul Bigsby and developed by Leo Fender. Travis had an entertaining stage act in which he would mimic animals on his guitars, but his 1960 collection Walkin’ The Strings is a highly regarded album of acoustic guitar solos. His style influenced Doc Watson, who named his son after him, and Chet Atkins, who did the same with his daughter. Travis was also a good cartoonist and he worked as a scriptwriter on Johnny Cash’s television shows. He was less active during the 70s, but took part in the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s tribute to country music, Will The Circle Be Unbroken?, received a Grammy for his acclaimed collaboration with Chet Atkins, and recorded several albums for CMH Records.
Travis was elected to the Country Music Hall Of Fame in 1977 but his drug addiction and alcoholism made him unreliable and wrecked his private life. Says Tennessee Ernie Ford, ‘Merle Travis was one of the most talented men I ever met. He could write songs that would knock your hat off, but he was a chronic alcoholic and when those binges would come, there was nothing we could do about it.’ In October 1983, Travis died of a heart attack at his Tahlequah, Oklahoma home; a year after appearing as one of the Texas Playboys in the Clint Eastwood movie Honkytonk Man.

 His body was cremated and his ashes scattered around a memorial erected to him near Drakesboro, Kentucky. (Info mainly from The Encyclopaedia of Popular Music)

Friday, 27 November 2015

Ray Herbeck born 27 November 1910

Ray Herbeck (b. 27 November 1910, Los Angeles, California, USA, d. 17 January 1989, Phoenix, Arizona, USA) was an American band leader and alto saxophonist. With their theme song, ‘Romance’, Herbeck’s was one of the most commercially orientated orchestras of the day.
Formed in Los Angeles, California, USA, in 1935, the Ray Herbeck Orchestra soon relocated to Chicago to pursue the lucrative Midwest one-nighter circuit. was one Having previously worked with Leighton Noble, Herbeck recruited musicians George Van, Whitney Boyd, George Winslow, Benny Stabler, Bob McReynolds, Jay Stanley, James Baker, Jim Hefit, Bunny Rang, Art Skolnick, Louis Math, Tom Clark, Al Ciola, Chi Chi Crozza, Bob Hartzell and Leo Benson, alongside vocalists Betty Benson, Hal Munbar, Kirby Brooks, Ray Olson, Lorraine Benson, Roy Cordell and Irene Wilson.

Herbeck later married his vocalist Lorraine Benson (b. 19 April 1920, Pocatello, Idaho, USA, d. 10 August 1996, San Dimas, California, USA). With a supporting tag of ‘Ray Herbeck And His Music With Romance’, they offered a steady stream of sentimental numbers cultivated to the specific requirements of slow dancing, including songs such as ‘Time Stood Still’.

The 40s saw the band take engagements at famous hotels such as the Peabody, New Yorker, Muehlbach and Brown Palace, and there were few major ballrooms who did not book the band during their extensive tours. 
Over his career, Ray and his various bands recorded over 200 sides for Vocalion Records, Columbia Records and OKeh Records among many others, further exposure arrived during World War II with Herbeck’s band making over 300 USO camp show appearances to entertain the forces. They also appeared several times on Coca Cola’s Spotlight Bands radio show during this time.
After the war Herbeck returned to California to play a year’s residency at the Riverside Hotel in Reno, then two years at the Last Frontier in Las Vegas. But by the early 50s he had given up music to concentrate on real estate businesses in California and Phoenix. He passed away at age 79 on January 17, 1989.

Both Ray and his vocalist/wife - Lorraine Benson - are buried in the Veteran's Admin. Cemetary in Phoenix, AZ, USA.  His son, Ray Jr., still has the original "book" and has produced a "Live" CD with the 1943 band including his mother Lorraine Benson singing. (Info mainly AMG)

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Ray Kennedy born 26 November 1946

Raymond Louis "Ray" Kennedy (November 26, 1946 – February 16, 2014) was an American singer, songwriter, musician and record producer, based in Los Angeles. His works span multiple genres including R&B, pop, rock, jazz, fusion, acid rock, country and many others. He co-wrote "Sail On, Sailor", one of The Beach Boys' mid-career hits as well as two hits for The Babys: "Everytime I Think of You" and "Isn't It Time".
Born in Philadelphia, Kennedy began playing saxophone at age nine; he sang in a cappella groups in New Jersey and Philadelphia before becoming a dancing regular on American Bandstand in 1960. Dick Clark eventually offered to pay him to pantomime playing saxophone with groups such as The Platters, The Drifters, Chubby Checker, Little Richard, and many more.
In 1965 Kennedy recorded his first single as vocalist with then-unknown Kenny Gamble, "Number 5 Gemini" on Guyden Records. That year Kennedy also auditioned for and received a gig playing tenor sax with Gerry Mulligan, one of the top baritone jazz saxophonists in the world. That led to Kennedy leaving his home in New Jersey, playing various jazz clubs and making his way south.
With drummer Jay David, Kennedy eventually left the tour to play various gigs with Dizzy Gillespie, J. J. Johnson, Buddy Rich and the Gene Krupa Jazz Group, until he decided in 1962 that the lifestyle of a jazz musician was simply not for him.
Kennedy went to Paducah, Kentucky to play a few gigs with Brenda Lee; one-nighters with Little Richard, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, Wilson Pickett, and many others followed. Encouraged by friend Otis Redding, Kennedy shifted his focus back to singing and moved to New York in 1963. He was signed by Ahmet Ertegun to Atlantic Records, recording as "Jon and Ray" and touring with Jon Mislan, AKA ( Johnny Angel ). In 1966 he formed another band called "Group Therapy" and recorded two albums before deciding to move to Los Angeles with them in 1968.
Kennedy's first solo album, "Raymond Louis Kennedy", was released in 1970. That year he befriended Dave Mason of Traffic, and toured with him in support of Mason's solo album, "Alone Together," also collaborating on a song "Seasons" that ended up on a future Mason solo album, "Let It Flow." During this period, Kennedy also co-wrote the Beach Boys hit, "Sail On, Sailor".
He was featured on the soundtrack to the Brian DePalma cult film sensation Phantom of the Paradise. Kennedy sang "Life at Last". In the movie, the song was lip-synched by Gerrit Graham as the character Beef, who performed the song as a Frankenstein-type transvestite constructed by the members of The Undead while they themselves, performed "Somebody Super Like You (the Beef Construction song)".

In 1980, Kennedy released a second self-titled solo album, Ray Kennedy. This album featured the minor hit single "Just for the Moment," which would become Kennedy's only Billboard Hot 100 hit under his own name.
In addition to this solo album, Kennedy spent the next several decades writing, recording and touring with and for musicians including Sly and the Family Stone, Brian Wilson, Dave Mason, Jeff Beck, Barry Goldberg, Maurice White, Aerosmith, Michael Schenker, Engelbert Humperdinck, Wayne Newton, Tanya Tucker, Bill Champlin, Willie Nelson, Mick Fleetwood and many others.
Active to the last, Ray was working on a television series and starting a guitar company when he passed away unexpectedly at his home on February 16, 2014 at the age of 67. (Info Wikipedia) 

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Biff Collie born 25 November 1926

Biff Collie (b. November 25, 1926 in Little Rock, Arkansas, USA - d. February 19, 1992) was an American disc jockey, singer, trumpeter, booker and promoter.
He graduated from Thomas Edison High School (San Antonio, Texas) in 1944. Biff's professional career spanned forty years working such major markets as Houston and San Antonio, Texas and Los Angeles and Long Beach California.
Biff Collie began his radio career at KMAC radio in San Antonio as a teenager. After brief stints at Browning and Alice, Texas, he moved on to KNUZ radio in Houston and later to KPRC. Biff started with KNUZ (1948) working as sports reporter, before moving into a disc jockey role. During that time, Glad Music Company had a record store on 11th Street. KNUZ had regular remote broadcasts from their store. Popular recording artists were frequent visitors to the shop. Hank Williams was one of the many artists to stop by. Biff was conducting a remote broadcast from Glad Music in 1948 when Hank Williams visited the store.
Hank Thompson, Hank Williams and Biff Collie
Biff was the first country disc jockey in Houston, which remains one of the premiere markets for country music radio. While in Houston, he also promoted and booked shows, becoming one of the first to ever book Hank Williams, Sr. and Tennessee Ernie Ford. In 1957, he became manager and emcee for the Philip Morris Country Music Show, which was broadcast nationally on Mutual Broadcasting Radio and CBS Radio. Later he worked mornings on KPRC and hosted a certain up and coming singer from Memphis by the name of Presley at the Grand Prize Jamboree.

 During this time, he also recorded for Columbia Records and Starday Records. His only charted hit was as Billy Bob Bowman in 1972 on United Artists.
In 1957, he became manager and emcee for the Philip Morris Country Music Show, which were broadcast nationally on Mutual and CBS Radio. The 1960s were spent in Los Angeles where he remained for the decade, gaining huge popularity over KFOX Radio. He was consistently in the top ten radio personalities in Billboard and Music Reporter magazines, and was also named "Best Radio Personality" by the Academy of Country Music, an organization which he served on the Board of Directors and produced the annual awards show in 1967.
He moved to Nashville in 1969 and produced the first syndicated radio show, "Inside Nashville" that ran on stations across the country for many years. Before his death, Biff earned the Ernest Tubb Humanitarian Award for his contributions. Biff is a member of the Country Music DJ Hall of Fame (1978). Collie died from prostate cancer on February 19, 1992 in Brentwood, Tennessee. (Info various but mainly from

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Rosa Henderson born 24 November 1896

Rosa Henderson (November 24, 1896 – April 6, 1968) was an American jazz and classic female blues singer, and vaudeville entertainer who's musical accomplishments have remained relatively obscure.
Born Rosa Deschamps in Henderson, Henderson County, Kentucky, she is remembered as one of the greats of the 1920s and 1930s classic blues era. Her career as an entertainer began in 1913 when she joined her uncle's circus troupe.
She married Douglas "Slim" Henderson in 1918 and began travelling with his Mason-Henderson show. Her career as a musical comedian started during the early 1920s, after she moved to New York where she performed on Broadway and eventually in London.
Her nine-year recording career began in 1923. During that time she recorded 92 selections in all including 88 during 1923-1927 and two apiece in 1928 and 1931. She used numerous pseudonyms such as Sally Ritz, Rosa Green, Flora Dale, Sarah Johnson, Bessie Williams, Josephine Thomas, Gladys White and Mamie Harris.
Vocalion, Columbia, Perfect, Emerson, Victor, Brunswick & Paramount were among the labels that captured her voice. Of course, these also account for her lack of a strong identity, although she appeared at major houses and with revues such as the Quintard Miller Company.

She was accompanied by such bands as The Virginians, Fletcher Henderson's Jazz Five, Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra, Fletcher Henderson's Club Alabam Orchestra, the Choo Choo Jazzers, the Kansas City Five, the Three Jolly Miners, the Kansas City Four, the Three Hot Eskimos, and the Four Black Diamonds, Coleman Hawkins, Louis Metcalf, Fats Waller, and (on six numbers), James P. Johnson, to name a few.
She sang the chorus on Fletcher Henderson's May 28, 1924, Vocalion recording of "Do That Thing", probably the earliest example of a female singing with a big band.
Although she began to show a marked decline in her recordings after 1926, she continued performing up until 1932 when she took a job in a New York department store where she stayed for many years. She continued to perform benefit concerts up until the 1960s. Rosa died at Bird S. Coler Hospital on Roosevelt Island, New York in 1968. (Info edited from various sources mainly Wikipedia & AMG)

Monday, 23 November 2015

Ruth Etting born 23 November 1896

Ruth Etting (November 23, 1896 – September 24, 1978) was an American singing star of the 1930s, who had over sixty hit recordings. Her signature tunes were "Shine On Harvest Moon", "Ten Cents a Dance" and "Love Me or Leave Me", and her other popular recordings included "Button Up Your Overcoat", "Mean to Me", "Exactly like you", and "Shaking the Blues Away".
Born in David City, Nebraska, she left home at age seventeen to attend the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. Her work as a costume designer helped her to get a job as a chorus girl at the Marigold Gardens, a famous "Windy City" nightclub.   She became a featured vocalist at the nightclub and married gangster Martin "Moe the Gimp" Snyder on July 12, 1922. He managed her career, booking radio appearances, and eventually had her signed to an exclusive recording contract with Columbia Records.
It was in Chicago that Ruth discovered a new lower pitched singing voice that she was unaware of while growing up in David City. In time, she was given solo opportunities which developed into her being billed as "Chicago's Sweetheart" and as a headliner in the Marigold Gardens, the Rainbo Gardens, and the Terrace room of the Hotel Morrison. Performances on Chicago radio stations led to a test recording for Columbia. Her first record paired the songs "Let's Talk about My Sweetie" and "Nothing Else to Do," and was released in March of 1926.
In 1927 Ruth went to New York to star on Broadway in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1927 singing Irving Berlin's "Shaking the Blues Away." In rapid succession she appeared in Whoopee (1928) singing "Love me or Leave me," in 9:15 Revue (1929) singing "Get Happy," in Simple Simon (1929) singing "Ten Cents a Dance," and in Ziegfeld's final production, The Follies of 1931, singing "Shine on Harvest Moon."

Ruth knew all the popular stars of the day: Al Jolson, Will Rogers, Helen Morgan, Sophie Tucker, Billie Burke, Joan Blondell, Humphrey Bogart, Fred and Adele Astaire, Jack Benny, George and Gracie Burns, Ed Wynn, and Eddie Cantor, to name just a few.
In Hollywood she made a long series of movie shorts between 1929 and 1936, and three feature movies in 1933 and 1934. Ruth made frequent appearances in the thriving new medium, radio, and established herself on the CBS Chesterfield hour, Music that Satisfies. In February 1933 a poll of 127 radio reviewers named Ruth as the leading singer of popular songs. Ruth sang with such performers as Bing Crosby, Jimmy Durante, and Jane Froman. In 1936, She appeared in London in Ray Henderson's Transatlantic Rhythm.
Etting divorced Moe Snyder on November 30, 1937. She fell in love with her pianist, Myrl Alderman, but in 1938 he was shot and injured by her ex-husband. Snyder was convicted of attempted murder, but released on appeal after one year in jail. Etting married Alderman in December 1938.
The scandal of the sensational trial in Los Angeles effectively ended her career. Ruth made an attempt to renew her career in 1947 when she was 50 years old.  She was booked on Rudy Vallee's radio show and then performed at the prestigious Copacabana in New York City.  This new career effort was unsuccessful, and Ruth, who wanted to be remembered when her voice was at its best, retired permanently to Colorado Springs with Myrl Alderman and lived there until her death in 1978. 

Ruth will be remembered as the small-town Nebraska girl whose simple and straightforward vocal stylings made an enormous impact on music of her day. Her life was the basis for the 1955 film Love Me or Leave Me, which starred Doris Day and James Cagney. (info Wikipedia & University Of Nebraska’s Ruth Etting Display)
Ruth Etting sings "If I Could Be With You (One Hour Tonight)" from 1930.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Hoagy Carmichael born 22 November 1899

Howard Hoagland "Hoagy" Carmichael (November 22, 1899 – December 27, 1981) was an American composer, pianist, singer, actor, and bandleader. He is best known for composing the music for "Stardust", "Georgia on My Mind", "The Nearness of You", and "Heart and Soul", four of the most-recorded American songs of all time.
American composer and author Alec Wilder wrote of Carmichael in American Popular Song: The Great Innovators, 1900–1950 that he was the "most talented, inventive, sophisticated and jazz-oriented" of the hundreds of writers composing pop songs in the first half of the 20th century.
Hoagland Howard Carmichael, better known as Hoagy Carmichael, was born on November 22, 1899, in Bloomington, Indiana. He was raised in humble circumstances, supported by an electrician father, and by the income his mother earned from playing the piano at silent movie showings and local dances. Growing up, Carmichael was exposed to music not only through his mother, but by listening to jazz artists in the African-American neighbourhood of Bucktown.
A move to Indianapolis in 1916 led Carmichael to an African-American pianist named Reginald DuValle, who became a mentor and an instructor in jazz. Carmichael worked to develop his own jazz skills, leading a jazz group while at Indiana University. During his time in college, he also hired a band that featured cornetist Bix Beiderbecke, who became a good friend.
Carmichael wrote his first song for Beiderbecke; originally called "Free Wheeling," it was recorded as "Riverboat Shuffle." Carmichael turned away from music to enrol in Indiana University's law school, graduating in 1926. However, upon hearing a recording of another of his songs, "Washboard Blues," Carmichael gave up on practicing law to pursue a career in music.
 By 1929, Carmichael was writing songs in New York City. That same year, Mitchell Parrish penned lyrics for a song that Carmichael had composed earlier, "Stardust," which became a hit in 1930. Today the song has been recorded more than 1,500 times—including by Louis Armstrong in 1931—and is a beloved standard.

Other well-known numbers that Carmichael worked on early in his career include "Rockin' Chair," "Georgia on My Mind," "Up the Lazy River" and "Lazybones." On "Lazybones," he worked with lyricist Johnny Mercer, who would become a friend and frequent collaborator. In addition to having other musicians interpret his songs, Carmichael also performed his own popular versions.
In 1936, Carmichael moved to California. The songs he wrote for various films include "Heart and Soul," "The Nearness of You" and "Two Sleepy People." In 1952, he and Mercer won an Academy Award for their song "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening," from the movie Here Comes the Groom, starring Bing Crosby. Carmichael also made onscreen appearances in films such as To Have and Have Not (1944) The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) and The Las Vegas Story (1952).


As the 1950s progressed, Carmichael continued to write and perform, but did not reach the same level of song writing success. Having written one autobiography earlier in his career, The Stardust Road (1946), he updated his memoirs with Sometimes I Wonder (1965). Carmichael took a break from adult songs to publish a collection of children's tunes, Hoagy Carmichael's Music Shop (1971).
Carmichael was selected to join the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1971. Divorced from his first wife—Ruth Meinardi, with whom he had two children—in 1955, he married Wanda McKay in 1977. His many popular songs gave him a steady income, so Carmichael was able to relax and play golf as he grew older. He passed away at the age of 82 on December 27, 1981, in Rancho Mirage, California.
(Info mainly from

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Coleman Hawkins born 21 November 1904

Coleman Randolph Hawkins (November 21, 1904–May 19, 1969), nicknamed "Hawk" and sometimes "Bean", was the first great tenor soloist in jazz history, Hawkins was, along with Lester Young, one of the two most influential saxophonists of the swing era. His huge, breathy sound, and his brilliant command of harmony ensured a perfect match of emotion and technique in his playing.
Coleman Hawkins was born on November 21, 1904, in St. Joseph, Missouri. His mother, an organist, taught him piano when he was 5; at 7, he studied cello; and for his 9th birthday he received a tenor saxophone. By the age of 12 he was performing professionally at school dances; he attended high school in Chicago, then studied harmony and composition for two years at Washburn College in Topeka, Kansas.
His first regular job, in 1921, was with singer Mamie Smith's Jazz Hounds, and he made his first recording with them in 1922. Based in Kansas City, the band played the major Midwestern and eastern cities, including New York, where in 1923 he guest recorded with the famous Fletcher Henderson Band. A year later he officially joined Henderson's band and remained with it until 1934.
From 1934 to 1939 Hawkins lived in Europe. He was guest soloist with the celebrated Jack Hylton Band in England, free-lanced on the Continent, and participated in a number of all-star recording sessions, the most famous of which was a 1937 get-together with the legendary Belgian gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt and the great American trumpeter-alto saxophonist Benny Carter.

In 1939 he recorded a seminal jazz solo on the pop standard "Body and Soul", a landmark recording of the Swing Era. It is unique in that virtually the entire recording is improvised, with only in the first 4 bars is the melody stated in a recognizable fashion. It is considered by many to be the next evolutionary step in jazz recording from where Louis Armstrong's "West End Blues" in 1928 left off.

After an unsuccessful attempt to establish a big band he led a combo at Kelly's Stables on Manhattan's famed 52nd Street with Thelonious Monk, Oscar Pettiford, Miles Davis, and Max Roach as sidemen. He was leader on the first ever bebop recording session with Dizzy Gillespie and Max Roach in 1943. Later he toured with Howard McGhee and recorded with J. J. Johnson and Fats Navarro. He also toured with Jazz at the Philharmonic. In 1948 Hawkins recorded Picasso, an influential piece for unaccompanied saxophone. After 1948 Hawkins divided his time between New York and Europe, making numerous freelance recordings. In 1950, and again in 1954, he was part of Illinois Jacquet's tour of American service bases. He continued to lead recording groups with such new talented players as Miles Davis, Fats Navarro, J. J. Johnson, and Milt Jackson.
By 1950 the innovations of younger bop musicians had made Hawkins' style seem outdated. In the early 1950s he made a more complete transition to be-bop, working with Roy Eldridge throughout most of the decade. By the late 1950s he was in demand once again, playing numerous jazz festivals and recording with such artists as Thelonious Monk, Max Roach, John Coltrane, and Duke Ellington. In the 1960s he appeared regularly at the Village Vanguard in Manhattan and recorded with Duke Ellington.
By the late 1960s Hawkins' chronic alcoholism had resulted in a deterioration of his health. He collapsed in 1967 while playing in Toronto and again a few months later at a JATP concert. In 1968, on a European tour with the Oscar Peterson Quartet, ill health forced the cancellation of the Denmark leg of the tour. Despite failing health, he continued to work regularly until a few weeks before his death.

He appeared on a Chicago television show with Roy Eldridge early in 1969, and his last concert appearance was on April 20, 1969, at Chicago's North Park Hotel. He died of bronchial pneumonia, complicated by a diseased liver, at New York's Wickersham Hospital on May 19, 1969.
(info edited from Wikipedia &