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Muggsy Spanier

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Biography

Muggsy Spanier was a predictable but forceful cornetist who rarely strayed far from the melody. Perfectly at home in Dixieland ensembles, Spanier was also an emotional soloist (equally influenced by King Oliver and Louis Armstrong) who was an expert at using the plunger mute. He started on cornet when he was 13, played with Elmer Schoebel's band in 1921, and first recorded in 1924. Spanier was a fixture in Chicago throughout the decade (appearing on several important early records) before joining Ted Lewis in 1929. Although Lewis was essentially a corny showman, Spanier's solos gave his band some validity during the next seven years. After a stint with Ben Pollack's orchestra (1936-1938), Spanier became seriously ill and was hospitalized for three months. After he recovered, the cornetist formed his famous eight-piece "Ragtime Band" and recorded 16 Dixieland performances for Bluebird (later dubbed The Great Sixteen) that virtually defined the music of the Dixieland revival movement. But because his group actually preceded the revival by a couple years, it soon had to break up due to lack of work. Muggsy joined Bob Crosby for a time, had his own short-lived big band, freelanced with Dixieland bands in New York, and starting in 1950 he gradually relocated to the West Coast. During 1957-1959 Spanier worked with Earl Hines' band and he continued playing up until his retirement in 1964, touring Europe in 1960 and always retaining his popularity in the Dixieland world.

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Birth Name:

Francis Joseph Spanier

Born:

November 09, 1906 in Chicago, IL

Genre
Years Active:

'20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s

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