World’s First Electric Guitarist (1923) – Phantom Dancer Show 29 Jan 2018


FIRST ELECTRIC GUITARIST

On this week’s Phantom Dancer with Greg Poppleton we hear from the world’s first electric guitarist, Alvino Rey, at the peak of his popularity in 1942. He invented the world’s first amplified guitar at age 15 in 1923.

There’s also a set of Claude Hopkins 1935 radio transcriptions, a Duke Ellington extended work from live 1945 radio and much more live 1920s-60s radio swing and jazz.

PHANTOM DANCER

The Phantom Dancer is your non-stop swing and jazz mix of live 1920s-60s radio and TV every week. I’ve been bringing you The Phantom Dancer on Radio 2SER, and now online, since 1985.

Hear this week’s Phantom Dancer (after 18 Dec) and past Phantom Dancers at 2ser.com.
Hear the show live every Tuesday 12:04-2pm on 107.3 2SER Sydney

ALVINO REY

Was the stage name of big band leader, electronica and electric guitar pioneer, Alvin McBurney.

Alvin adopted the stage name in 1929 at the start of the Latin music craze in the U.S.

He wanted to be an electronics engineer and was an electronic genius as a kid.

He built his first radio at age 8, in 1916.

In the 1910s he had one of the first, and was the youngest, ham radio broadcaster.

Stringy the Guitar

STRINGY

Alvino was given a banjo as a child and then learnt guitar from age 12 in 1920, listening to records by Roy Smeck. At age 15, in 1923, Rey invented an electrical amplifier for the guitar but didn’t have it patented. He patented several later improvements.
Big Band historian, Christopher Popa, wrote about Rey’s early career in an interview he conducted with the World’s first electric guitarist,

“In 1927, Rey landed a job playing banjo with Cleveland bandleader Ev Jones.
“Yes, I joined the Union when I was 16,” he told me. “I went to Lakewood High School and from there I went to New York and never did come back.”
To capitalize on the popularity of Latin music in New York City during 1929, he added an “o” to his first name and changed his last name to “Rey,” which meant “the King” in Spanish.
He replaced banjoist Eddie Peabody with violinist Phil Spitalny, whose band was appearing at the Pennsylvania Hotel and was heard coast-to-coast over the radio.
“I spent two years in New York with Phil Spitalny and then went to California,” he recalled. “I joined Horace Heidt in San Francisco . . . he had a stage band, sort of like Fred Waring.”
Between 1934 and 1939, Rey was often featured on steel guitar with Heidt and became one of the best-known (and best-paid) sidemen in the country, thanks to Heidt’s weekly radio program.
“And there I met the King Sisters, and I married Luise, one of the sisters,” he reminisced.
Alvino Rey was the first to amplify the guitar.
“Well, that came about around 1930, when I was at NBC in San Francisco,” he explained to me. “And I’ve always been an electronic nut and I’ve been a ham operator and studied electronics. In fact, that was going to be my ambition, to be an electronics engineer, and I just applied the amplification of that to the guitar and string instruments.”
It brought a whole new sound to music.
“That was . . . before it was ever done, I believe. As far as I know, it was the first application to a string instrument,” he noted.
Ironically, some link it to rock and roll.
“Well, it got out of hand with a lot of the big rock groups who make so much racket with it. I didn’t intend it to be used with such volume. I used the idea just to be heard in a band, where the guitar — up until that time — was a soft, romantic background accompanying a singer. And after that, it became sort of an integral part of an orchestra.”

BIG BAND

In August 1939, Rey formed his first swing band with his amplified pedal steel guitar as the featured instrument.

An off-stage vocal microphone plugged into it with a Sonovox made it seem as though the guitar could talk.

That’s ‘Stringy the Guitar’, which you can see below in this week’s Phantom Dancer Video of the Week.

In 1942, Alvino was voted by music critics to be part of the Metronome All-Star Band as the top guitarist in the U.S.

He played in small groups from 1949, backing Elvis Presley in 1961 on Blue Hawaii.

He continued to perform on radio and TV and release albums into the 1980s.

VIDEO

This week’s Phantom Dancer video of the week is a 1940s soundy of ‘String the Guitar’ with Alvino Rey’s Orchestra.

29 JANUARY PLAY LIST

Play List – The Phantom Dancer
107.3 2SER-FM Sydney, Live Stream, Digital Radio
Community Radio Network Show CRN #372

107.3 2SER Tuesday 29 January 2019
After the 2SER 12 noon news, 12:04 – 2:00pm (+11 hours GMT)
National Program:
ArtSoundFM Canberra Sunday 7 – 8pm
and early morning on 24 other stations.

Set 1
1944-45 Radio Swing Bands
Aukd Lang Syne (theme) + All My Love
Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians (voc) Bill Flanagan
‘One Night Stand’
Grill Room
Hotel Roosevelt NYC
AFRS Re-broadcast
25 Oct 1950
Full Moon and Empty Arms
Buddy Morrow Orchestra (voc) Carl Denny
‘One Night Stand’
Blue Room
Hotel Lincoln NYC
AFRS Re-broadcast
27 May 1946
The Blizzard
Louis Prima Orchestra
‘One Night Stand’
Casino Gardens
Ocean Park Ca
AFRS Re-broadcast
3 Jul 1946
Set 2
Sammy Kaye
The Belmont Boogie
Sammy Kaye Orchestra
‘The Sammy Kaye Showroom’
Radio Transcription
New York City
1950s
Remember Pearl Harbour
Sammy Kaye Orchestra (voc) Trio
‘Spotlight Bands’
Blue Network
Washington DC
31 Jan 1942
Sparking + Close
Sammy Kaye Orchestra (voc) The Four Kaydettes
‘The Sammy Kaye Showroom’
Radio Transcription
New York City
1950s
Set 3
Alvino Rey
Open + Hindustan
Alvino Rey Orchestra (voc) Sparky the Guitar
‘Spotlight Bands’
Paramount Theatre
WJZ NBC Blue New York City
28 Feb 1942
Cash For Your Trash
Alvino Rey Orchestra (voc) Bonnie Rae
‘Spotlight Bands’
Paramount Theatre
WJZ NBC Blue New York City
28 Feb 1942
Deep in the Heart of Texas + Close
Alvino Rey Orchestra (voc) Band
‘Spotlight Bands’
Paramount Theatre
WJZ NBC Blue New York City
28 Feb 1942
Set 4
Count Basie
Station ID and Ads
Station Announcers
KFWB
Warner Brothers
Los Angeles
1946
Ingin’ The Ooh
Count Basie Nonet
Comm Rec
Boston
7 Sep 1954
Low Life
Count Basie Orchestra
‘All-Star Parade of Bands’
Birdland
WRCA NBC NY
2 Jul 1956
One O’Clock Jump + Kansas City Stride
Count Basie Orchestra
‘Jubilee’
AFRS Hollywood
27 May 1944
Set 5
Duke Ellington
Excerpts from Black, Brown and Beige: The Work Song + Come Sunday
Duke Ellington Orchestra
‘A Date With The Duke’
400 Restaurant
WJZ ABC NY
28 Apr 1945
Candy
Duke Ellington Orchestra (vic) Ray Nance
‘A Date With The Duke’
400 Restaurant
WJZ ABC NY
28 Apr 1945
Set 6
Claude Hopkins
Chasing My Blues Away
Claude Hopkins Orchestra
Radio Transcription
New York City
1935
The Traffic Was Terrific
Claude Hopkins Orchestra (voc) Fred Norman
Radio Transcription
New York City
1935
You Stayed Away Too Long
Claude Hopkins Orchestra
Radio Transcription
New York City
1935
Everybody Shuffle
Claude Hopkins Orchestra (voc) Ovie Alston
Radio Transcription
New York City
1935
Set 7
Jubilee Small Acts
Trouble Trouble
Betty Roche (voc) Benny Carter Orchestra
‘Jubilee’
AFRS Hollywood
1944
Mad Monk
Eddie South Trio
‘Jubilee’
AFRS Hollywood
1944
Daddy-O
Timmie Rogers
‘Jubilee’
AFRS Hollywood
1944
Straighten Up and Fly Right
Golden Gate Quartet
‘Jubilee’
AFRS Hollywood
1944
Set 8
Benny Goodman Small Groups
Honeysuckle Rose
Benny Goodman Quartet
‘Camel Caravan’
WABC CBS NY
18 Jan 1938
Three Little Words
Benny Goodman Quintet
‘Spotlight Bands’
Cornell University
Blue Network
25 Sep 1943
Stomping at the Savoy
Benny Goodman Sextet
‘Kings of Jazz’
BBC NYC
8 Dec 1945

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