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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • CHRISTMAS PRINTS

Spiked: 1952

Spiked: 1952

April 1952. "Bandleader Spike Jones and his City Slickers performing in Grand Forks, North Dakota." From the Look magazine photo assignment "Spike Jones: There's a Method in His Madness." Musicians in the band include Sir Frederick Gas, George Rock, Guy Raymond and Dick Morgan. View full size.

 
On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Musical chair?

You can see Spike's leopard skinned "latrinophone" at the right edge of the picture. It was a catgut stringed toilet seat which was one of his many gag instruments. I have a few of his enjoyable old recordings, and just wish I could have had the pleasure of seeing him perform live.

"Musical Depreciation Revue"

I've always admired the musicianship and showmanship of Spike's troupe. Times were different then--record sales were 15% classical (10x today's percentage). Here's the tour ad, from not-too-far-away Burlington, Iowa:

Six Jumping Jacks

Spike, born in 1911, was greatly influenced as a young man in the late 1920's by the madcap antics of banjo player Harry Reser's Six Jumping Jacks, one of his many groups which recorded on the Brunswick label between 1926 and about 1931. The horns, the whistles and cymbals were all mainstays of the earlier group and were integrated into Spike's wonderful arrangements 15 years later.

The Last King of Corn

Glad to see Spike finally get a little time in the spotlight here! I don't see George Rock in this particular picture (unless he's the one behind Spike's head) - or Sir Frederick Gas, for that matter - but the drummer is Joe Siracusa and the banjo player is Freddy Morgan.

Spike Jones!

What a talented group of musicians. They really knew how to have fun. It's weird that I was watching YouTube clips of the band and came here afterward, and here he is on Shorpy!

 
SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE
Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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