Bunny Berrigan

Bunny_BerriganTrumpet player Rowland Bernard “Bunny” Berigan was born in 1908 in Fox Lake, Wisconsin. A virtuoso, he rose to fame during the swing era and performed with many of the most important bands of that era including Benny Goodman, Hal Kemp, Paul Whiteman, Glenn Miller, and Tommy Dorsey before forming his own big band in the late 1930s. He was also a composer and his 1937 classic jazz recording “I Can’t Get Started with You” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1975.

Bunny Berrigan - Episode 1

Bunny's earliest influences were Louis Armstrong and Bix Beiderbecke. Early in his career he played with numerous territory bands before moving to New York in 1929. In New York he worked in recording studios, played with major radio orchestras, and performed in dance bands. A jack of all trades, Berigan was a great soloist, could play lead trumpet, could read any piece of music put before him, and was universally liked and admired.
CompositionArtistYear
Struttin' with Some BarbequeLouis Armstrong and Hot 71927
Potato Head BluesLouis Armstrong and Hot 71927
River Boat ShuffleBix Beiderbecke/Frankie Trumbauer Orchestra1927
Goose PimplesBix Beiderbecke and New Orleans Lucky 71927
Nothin' but the BluesBunny Berrigan and the Gene Gifford Orchestra1935
King Porter StompBunny Berrigan and Benny Goodman1935

Bunny Berrigan - Episode 2

Berigan left the Goodman band after playing in the group for about a year. He soon formed his own group and in between performed with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra; his solos on the Dorsey hits "Marie" and the “Song of India” are considered some of his finest work. In 1937 when he was able to secure adequate financial backing, Berigan assembled a band to record under his name. He picked a little known Ira Gershwin/Vernon Duke composition, "I Can't Get Started" to record and it became his most memorable recording and also his theme song. The addition of his “reedy” vocal only adds to the charm of this important recording. Like Bix Beiderbecke, Berigan’s early demise at age 33 left a void in the trumpet world.
CompositionArtistYear
Sometimes I'm HappyBunny Berrigan and Benny Goodman1935
A Fine RomanceBunny Berrigan and the Billie Holiday Orchestra1936
Honeysuckle RoseBenny Berrigan Jam Session at Victor1937
BluesBunny Berrigan Jam Session at Victor1937
I Can't Get StartedBunny Berrigan and His Orchestra1937
Song of IndiaBunny Berrigan and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra1937
MarieBunny Berrigan and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra1937
Black BottomBunny Berrigan and his Orchestra1938