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Vic Berton (1898-1951)

Vic Berton (1898-1951)The word child prodigy doesn’t even begin to describe Vic Berton who was playing drums in a Milwaukee pit orchestra at the age of seven. By age sixteen he was playing with the Milwaukee and Chicago Symphony Orchestras.

During the First World War Berton enlisted and played drums with John Philip Sousa’s Navy Band. After the war he returned to Chicago and played with several of the top dance bands in the area.

In 1922 he wrote the song, “Sobbin’ Blues” with Art Kassell with became the standard of hot bands of the 1920s. In 1924 he formed a friendship with Bix Beiderbecke and started managing and occasionally playing drums with the band that Bix was in at the time, the Wolverines. Berton moved to New York and played with Red Nichols and his Five Pennies, the Roger Wolfe Kahn Orchestra, and the Paul Whiteman Orchestra.

By the end of the decade Berton was considered the greatest of all Jazz drummers by many. He often played in commercial bands that paid him a top notch salary but didn’t showcase his talents as well as they might have.

Vic BertonHe moved to California in the late 1920s and formed his own band. The group had several successful recordings in the mid-1930s, like, “Taboo“, “I’ve Been Waiting All Winter“and “Dardanella“.

In 1930 Berton was busted for smoking a marijuana cigarette with Louis Armstrong and Frank Driggs in Culver City. Vic Berton worked at Paramount studios in the 1930’s and even returned to symphonic work in the 1940’s.

During World War II he worked as a musician with the Air Force and returned to being a studio musician for the movies after the war. He died in Hollywood in 1951 of lung cancer.

 

Vic Berton (1898-1951)

Remembering Bix, by Ralph Berton, Harper & Row, 1974

Vic Berton (1898-1951)
Vic Berton (1898-1951)

These records are quite good, especially the super hot “Devils Kitchen“.

Vic Berton (1898-1951)

Title Recording Date Recording Location Company
A Smile Will Go A Long, Long Way 2-1-1935 New York, New York Vocalion
2964
Brunswick
A-500557
Blue
(Clark / Leslie / Handman)
3-25-1935 New York, New York Vocalion
2974
Dardanella
(Felix Bernard / Johnny S. Black)
2-1-1935 New York, New York Vocalion
2915-A
Brunswick
A-500557
Devils Kitchen
(Will Hudson)
6-14-1935 New York, New York Columbia
3074-D
Imitations Of You 6-14-1935 New York, New York Columbia
3092-D
In Blinky Winky Chinky Chinatown
Vocal Chorus by Chick Bullock

(William Jerome / John Schwartz)
3-25-1935 New York, New York Vocalion
2964
I’ve Been Waiting All Winter
(For A Summer Night Like This)

Vocal refrain by Chick Bullock

(Oakland / Drake / Mills)
6-14-1935 New York, New York Columbia
3074-D
Jealous
(Little / Malie / Finch)
2-1-1935 New York, New York Vocalion
2915-B
Brunswick
A-500558
Lonesome And Sorry
Vocal Chorus by Chick Bullock
3-25-1935 New York, New York Vocalion
2944-B
Mary Lou
Vocal Chorus by Chick Bullock

(Lyman / Wagner / Robinson)
3-25-1935 New York, New York Vocalion
2944-A
Taboo
(Hudson / De Lange)
3-25-1935 New York, New York Vocalion
2974
Brunswick
A-500558
Two Rivers Flow Through Harlem 6-14-1935 New York, New York Columbia
3092-D

Vic Berton (1898-1951)

Artist Instrument
Wally Barron Trombone
Benny Bell Trumpet
Vic Berton Drums
Sterling Bose Trumpet
Irving Brodsky Piano
Chick Bullock Vocals
Darrell Calker Guitar, Arranger
Spencer Clark Bass Saxophone
Joe Colon Saxophone
Marty Dale Piano
Walt Dorfus Saxophone
Vic d’ Ippolito Trumpet
Louis Garcia Trumpet
Arhie Jarry Trumpet
Merrill Klein String Bass
Rube Lerner Saxophone
Harry Levine Trumpet
Matty Matlock Clarinet
Pee Wee Russell Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone
Cal Stump String Bass
Sid Tucker Clarinet

 

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