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Henry Busse & His Orchestra

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Biography

b. 19 May 1894, Magdeburg, Germany, d. 23 April 1955, Memphis, Tennessee, USA. Busse was a trumpet-playing band leader whose speciality was a corny ‘wah-dit-doo’ version of a number called ‘Hot Lips’, which he composed with Henry Lange and Lou Davis. Busse emigrated to the USA in 1916 and obtained a job in a movie house band, after which he formed his own quintet and later moved to the west coast. In 1919 he joined Paul Whiteman’s Orchestra and became one of the band’s mainstays, helping to write ‘Wang Wang Blues’, which they played as a test piece in order to clinch a Victor recording contract. Whiteman recorded the song on 9 August 1920. It proved to be a massive hit, as was the band’s waxing of the aforementioned ‘Hot Lips’. Busse assembled his own band in 1928 and gained a residency at the Chez Paree, Chicago. In 1938 he appeared at the Hotel New Yorker, where his shuffle-beat arrangements were well received by both dancers and critics alike. Although forced to reprise ‘Hot Lips’, ‘Wang Wang Blues’ and ‘When Day Is Done’ (which he recorded with Whiteman in 1922) virtually every day of his life, Busse led a prosperous band for many years, and featured in the movies Lady Let’s Dance (1944) and the George Gershwin bio-pic, Rhapsody In Blue (1945). He died of a heart attack in April 1955 just before he was to give a performance at a hotel in Memphis, Tennessee.

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