Eddie Durham's very first guitar recordings which we know of, are . Most of the personnel in Moten's Orchestra, including Eddie, came from
Durham's 2nd recordings are in Nov. 1929, four tracks with gospel singer Laura Henton.
EDDIE DURHAM (1906-1987) WAS THE FIRST:
- to widely showcase a homemade guitar amplification system: metal-bodied, with a homemade pie tin resonator inside and megaphones to increase its projection, a whammy bar made from a hangar, as well as his own homemade Amplifier
- to record SINGLE LINE SOLO's Bennie Moten's Kansas City Orchestra October 1929 on "BAND BOX SHUFFLE", "NEW VINE STREET BLUES" (Basie on piano) and 1930 "BOOT IT". Note: Durham's ARRANGING tightened and modernized the section work of the Moten Orchestra
- to record on AMPLIFIED GUITAR
September 30, 1935 Jimmie Lunceford recordings capture Durham on "HITTIN THE BOTTLE" (metal-bodied Dobro "resphonic"), Hear also "Avalon".
- to record ELECTRIC GUITAR John Hammond, Sr. records only four tracks #19-22 (Laughing At Life, *Good Mornin' Blues, I Know That You Know, Love Me or Leave Me) on March 16, 1938, with EDDIEDURHAM (guitarist/trombonist, composer* & leader) AND HIS BASE FOUR: The All American Rhythm Section: Buck Clayton-tpt, Walter "Big Un" Page-bass, Papa Jo Jones-drums and Freddie Greene-rhythm guitar, for Vocalion label. Hammond later sold these four tracks to Milt Gabler, although “Love Me Or Leave Me” was lost until the 1970's. Lester Young is added "Way Down Yonder in New Orleans". But it was Hammond who had the ingenious idea to showcase this new sound Durham was obsessed with, the ELECTRIC guitar, as a lead instrument, replacing (Basie’s) piano. Durham utilized a Gibson ES-150.
Durham had, until now, been playing ALL of his own home-made metal bodied amplified guitar, with a homemade pie tin resonator inside and megaphones to increase its projection, a whammy bar he made from a hangar, as well as his homemade Amplifier (which others called “Eddie’s starvation box).
These inventions are undoubtedly what Hammond (and Larry Lucie) witnessed, which inspired sponsoring Eddie Durham & His Bass Four, on this March 16, 1938 recording session of four tracks, Durham as leader. With Milt Gabler as Producer, Lester Young (clarinet & tenor sax) is added on 5 new tracks, #1-10 in double takes on Sept. 28, 1938 and the CD is reissued as THE KANSAS CITY SIX. (Tracks #11-18 are recorded in 1944 and do not include Durham, Clayton, Greene or Page.)
On Sept. 30, 1935 Jimmie Lunceford recorded Durham on AMPLIFIED guitar on HITTIN THE BOTTLE, the first recording of it's kind (metal-bodied Dobro "resphonic"), hear also "Avalon". Lunceford also recorded Durham on "HONEY KEEP YOUR MIND ON ME" for which Durham won an “All American Poll” for his innovative guitar soloing..
Durham's compositions, arrangements, recordings as well as DVD's of Films he appears in - are now ALL easily purchased from one comprehensive link - a rare convenience!
The late guitarist LAWRENCE LUCIE, who was a young admirer, states: "I used to go to the Savoy all the time, and the first guitar player I ever heard play single-string solo was Eddie Durham, when he came with Moten's band around 1932. He had one of those National guitars with a resonator inside it and it sounded loud and rather metallic, although there was no electrical amplifications. Eddie played very good solos on it." (Lucie was interviewed for a forthcoming documentary).
Eddie recalled: "I was playing straight guitar and was always a hit with the big bands; but they drown you out, so I'd take a straight guitar, put the mike right in its soundhole. I don't think anyone had done that before". While still in Moten's band (1929-1932), Eddie had already worked out the way of performing through a separate amplifier outside the PA system. He built the box around it, get a special amplifier and say, "Make me a box and set it in... and the things were so heavy. Now they have some very near perfect ones, but the sound isn't the same. They used to plug it into the big house set, with a jack and the cord, to your guitar and you'd get the effect of a pipe organ in church. You'd make it loud and all the people'd look 'round and say, 'Where's that sound coming from?"..."With the resonator guitar, always wanted to get vibrato. So I took a clothes hanger and I attached that to the bridge...and I used to hook it in this finger. When I'd play, I'd shake it...Now they build it in the foot pedal, anywhere. Just touch it and you got it.... But many audiences and clubs were unprepared for amplification: "A lot of people thought that was a screwy idea, having an amplified guitar, and the ballroom managers were always afraid you'd blow out their lights. There was DC current all over the place, so I'd often had trouble finding electrical outlets when I was touring with Basie." After the people that made the resonator had gone out of business, I found someone who was manufacturing an electrically amplified instrument."
Durham records electric guitar with Count Basie's Orchestra on the August 1937 sessions.
His pioneer work with the electric guitar strongly influenced a generation of jazz artists, including Wes Montgomery, Larry Lucie, Floyd Guitar Smith and Charles Christian who is widely held to be one of the greatest electric guitarists ever.
The electric guitar became, of course, a standard instrument for Blues, Rock & Roll bands and earlierJazz bands.
GUITAR PLAYER MAGAZINE, August 1979:
EDDIE DURHAM'S INSTRUMENTS ARE KEPT IN A VAULT AT THE DURHAM ESTATE
SIGNATURE Hollow-Body GUITAR, left & right handed with Eddie's signature on the frets, son Eric and daughter Marsha's signature inside the F-Hole
In 2006 "Sam Ash Music Stores" released the DURHAM SIGNATURE GUITARS, two colors each, by "Guitar Research"
"Eddie Durham and not the often listed guitarist, Freddie Green, plays guitar on the Teddy Wilson Brunswick session of January 6, 1938 and, again, at the Billie Holiday Vocalion session of January 12, 1938." - Phil Schaap
- Compare Eddie Durham (1906-1987) recording dates:
GEORGE BARNES (July 17, 1921 – September 5, 1977)