DURHAM Brothers Orchestra


                              Guitar legacy

EDDIE DURHAM & HIS BASE FOUR (a/k/a The Kansas City 4 & 5; Lester Young Kansas City Sessions)

click the CD for complete info/video.

These recordings, among the first to capture electric guitar on record, were originally produced by John Hammond, Sr. to showcase Durham's electric guitar. He utilized a Gibson ES-150Lester is not on the original 4 tracks, he is added on the 2nd/3rd recording dates. Durham is not on the 3rd (last) date.


March 16, 1938: John Hammond, Sr. produces the first 4 tracks: "Laughing At Life", "Good Mornin' Blues", "I Know That You Know" & "Love Me or Leave Me" - with

The All American Rhythm Section: Buck Clayton-tpt, Walter "Big Un" Page-bass, Papa Jo Jones-drums, Freddie Greene-r/guitar. Hammond sold these tracks to Milt Gabler, but "Love Me Or Leave Me" was lost, until the 1970's, then reissued. 

 GUITAR PLAYER Magazine, August 1979:



Eddie Durham's very first guitar recordings are October 1929 with The Bennie Moten Kansas City Orchestra. However, most of the personnel in Bennie Moten's Orchestra, including Eddie, emerged from

WALTER PAGE's Oklahoma Blue Devils Orchestra:


 Durham's 2nd recordings (KC) November 1929, four tracks with singer Laura Henton. (Gospel Classics, Document Records DOCD-5190)  

EDDIE DURHAM (1906-1987) one of the first to:

- to RECORD,  single-line solos

Bennie Moten's Kansas City Orchestra October 1929 on "BAND BOX SHUFFLE", "NEW VINE STREET BLUES" (Basie on piano) and 1930 "BOOT IT".  This only refers to "single line solos" on ANY guitar

-  SHOWCASE a home-made guitar AMPLIFICATION system

metal-bodied, with a homemade pie tin resonator inside and megaphones to increase its projection, a hangar (now called a whammy bar), as well as his own homemade Amplifier. This only refers to an amplification system which was CREATED (not patented) by DURHAM, who performed with it - AND it being widely showcased by "himself"...

AMPLIFIED GUITAR earliest recordings:

- hear HITTIN THE BOTTLE (Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra)
September 30, 1935 Lunceford recordings capture Durham on "HITTIN THE BOTTLE" (metal-bodied Dobro "resphonic")

Hear also "Avalon". This is the first recording of it's kind (metal-bodied Dobro "resphonic"). 

Lunceford also recorded Durham on "HONEY KEEP YOUR MIND ON MEfor which Durham won an "All American Poll" for his innovative guitar soloing.

May 29, 1935 - BIRD OF PARADISE (Ellington) Durham's Guitar & Arrangement


 Durham records electric guitar with Count Basie's Orchestra on the August 1937 sessions.


Please contact at "SwingtheBlues@yahoo.com" for exhibits of actual instruments or to license photos


 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" 



I'm pretty sure these websites won't even mention Eddie Durham, but DurhamJazz.com gives credit where it's due:

Compare EDDIE DURHAM's  (b 1906 - d 1987)  RECORDING   dates: 

GEORGE BARNES (July 17, 1921 ? September 5, 1977)

MILTON BROWN (Sept. 7, 1903 - April 18, 1936) inspired Django Reinhardt

ALONZO "LONNIE" JOHNSON (Feb. 8, 1899 - June 16, 1970)

EDDIE LANG (Oct. 25, 1902 - March 26, 1933) aka "Blind Willie Dunn".  Youtube With LONNIE JOHNSON 1929

LESter POISFUSS (PAUL) (June 9, 1915 ? August 12, 2009)

DJANGO REINHARDT (January 23, 1910 Belgium - May 16, 1953) recorded Durham's TOPSY 

CHARLIE CHRISTIAN (July 29, 1916 - March 2, 1942)  Youtube compare TOPSY by Christian


These are quotes by MICHAEL EMERY, KLRU-TV (PBS)

"Eddie Durham RECORDED his earliest ELECTRIC guitar licks two weeks after George Barnes in a jazz session of the Kansas City Five. The early bird gets the worm, they say. These guys don't get no worm or props for being the innovators of what passes for popular music today... 

...As for the earliest RESONATOR guitars, what some call "amplified guitars," George Beauchamp often gets the nod on behalf of the National Stringed Instrument Corporation, which spawned the Dobro Corporation in an internal squabble... George Beauchamp tweaked his ELECTRIC instrument, a lap guitar, into being in 1931. I also read that the earliest ELECTRIC guitar performances were in the exotic Hawaiian guitar style by Gage Brewer, a friend of the instrument's INVENTOR, in 1932. Said INVENTOR is widely acknowledged to be George Beauchamp back in 1931, and the Rickenbacker International Corporation... 

...Paul H. Tutmarc. His son firmly believes that Tutmarc INVENTED the ELECTRIC guitar firstTutmarc's successful, non-feeding-back electronic pickup was an innovative intellectual package later sold to Rickenbacker for $600 back in the day by a former collaborator. Then there is that first ELECTRIC bass, too...

Among other innovations, luthier and professional musician Lloyd Loar is credited with taking the ?-hole from the violin and attaching it to the surface of the guitar. He was relieved of his job at Gibson Guitars in the mid-1920s, and in 1933 created a new company that was renamed Vivi-Tone in 1936, set to electrify stringed instruments. There are several extant examples of Loar's electric guitar inventions...

Sometimes the title of first or best or fastest or some such superlative goes to the wrong person, but someone most of us will agree on...

But it's OK to disagree."

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