to Rich Johnson’s Book
From time to time I will bring up material that Rich was
working on, but did not have a chance to finish. All material not added
by me comes from Rich's unpublished notes or from material
submitted for publ;ication that did not get in the book.
A Bix Cornet? "Dude" Skiles (Uploaded Aug 8,
In p. 574 of his book, Rich reprints a series of articles
related to Bix’s cornets. One of them is
a piece from Feb 3, 1955, where there is an account of Dude Skiles
receiving the gift of a cornet that
belonged to Bix.
According to this article, Dude Skiles received in 1939, as
a wedding present from a member of the Fred Waring band, a cornet that
played while a member of the Paul Whiteman orchestra.
Rich was trying to find out whether Skiles had one of many
trumpets Bix got for free from manufacturers and then gave away, or if
the missing Conn Victor horn, but then he got too sick to continue
story. Rich thought maybe it wasn't a
member of the Fred Waring orchestra but Tommy Dorsey who gave Skiles
but never got so far as to confirm make/model of the horn.
I did a little research on Dude Skiles. I found lots of
information in San Antonio
newspapers. Unfortunately, I did not get anywhere with the question of
Robert “Dude” Skiles was born in Joplin,
MO on Oct 27, 1915 and died in San Antonio, TX
on Dec 15, 1993.
Census San Antonio,
All newspapers clips from the San Antonio Light
April 8, 1936
Jun 29, 1936 (there is an error: the guitarist is Jack
Aug 1937, Dude signs up with Fred
Dec 22, 1937
Dec 1939 Signs up with Johnny Green
Jan 13, 1941
Oct 1941 purchases Shadowland Club. See Norte 1
June 1942 Enlists
June 1946 returns from service; owns a record shop (as well
as Shadowland Club)
1948 sells Shadow land Club
1949 appointed public relations director for Park
Jan 22, 1950
Oct 4, 1951 public relations postion is abolished
Nov 1951 appointed manager for Municipal Auditorium. See
Interview of Dude Skiles
Photo of Dude Skiles
with Jack Teagarden and Chuck Reiley at a San Antonio Jazz
meeting. From Louisiana
2. Paul Whiteman with Bix was in San Antonio, Texas on Nov 1,
1928. The orchestra gave a concert at the Municipal Auditorium.
It was built in 1926.
New Information About the
Cornet. (Uploaded Aug 20, 2009)
Having read the interview of Dude Skiles by Sterlin Holmesly, it
occurred to me to get in touch with Sterlin and ask him if he had
discussed the cornet given to Dude for a wedding present in 1939. I
could not find an email address for Sterlin. I knew that Dude Skiles
and Sterlin Holmesly were from San Antonio, and therefore I thought of
Mopsick, bassist with the Jim Cullum Jazz Band [The Landing, Riverwalk
Jazz], and I asked him if he had an email
address or telephone number for Sterlin. Don responded promptly and
provided an address for Sterlin. I then contacted Sterlin and asked him
the subject of the Bix cornet had been brought up during his
with Dude Skiles, and if so, did he have any information about the
cornet, model, year, etc. Sterlin kindly responded and informed me that
"My talk with Dude was
in the early '80s, one of many jazz oral histories I did back then.
Dude has long since died. The Bix cornet chronicle went something like
this: Dude gave the horn to Jim Cullum Jr., leader of the Jim Cullum
Jazz Band. Cullum is a cornetist and a devotee of Bix's. I understand
that the Bix horn was stolen, along with other valuable instruments. "
Sterlin gave me a contact for Jim Cullum who generously provided the
Dude Skiles gave a cornet to Jim Cullum in the early 1970s, probably
1972. This is the cornet that was given to Dude as a wedding present in
1939 by a member of the Fred Waring band, name forgotten. Dude told Jim
that the musician who gave him the cornet as a wedding present had won
it from Bix in a poker or crap game. Jim tells me that the cornet is a
brass Holton cornet from the late 1920s, that it showed no signs of
wear, that it did not play well, and that it looked to him like the
Holton cornet in the following ad for Holton instruments. This
information is consistent with that in the Feb 3, 1955 newspaper
article reproduced at the top of this page, "Bix played the
cornet when with the Paul Whiteman orchestra. " Whiteman endorsed
Holton instruments for his band in the Spring of 1928.
Promotional Photo for Holton
Instruments. Left to right, Eddie Pinder, Bix Beiderbecke, Charlie
Margulis, Harry Goldfield
In 1962, Jim Cullum father (clarinetist) and son (cornetist) founded a
partnership and launched the Happy Jazz Band. The following year they
launched "The Landing" in what is currently "Joe's Crab Shack." The
band played taditional jazz, and "The Landing" was an instant success.
Among musicians who visited the Cullums in "The Landing" were Benny
Goodman, Bobby Hackett, Joe Venuti, and Earl Hines. In 1982, "The
Landing" moved to the River Walk level of the Hyatt Regency Hotel. In the process of
moving, Jim placed several instruments, including the Holton
cornet, in a strong box which he stored temporarily in a
Country/Western/Blue Grass place that had just opened in San Antonio. A
few months later, Jim went to retrieve the box and, to his dismay, all
the instruments had been stolen! Note 1.
Jim does not know first hand if the cornet given to him by Dude Skiles
is indeed the Holton that belonged to Bix. Jim tells me that stories
about Bix have a tendency to be embellished, and eventualy may have
little basis on reality. However, Jim tells me that Dude Skiles was
quite adamant in his belief that the cornet given to him as a wedding
present had been won by a Waring musician in a game with Bix.
Acknowledgments. I am
extremely grateful to Jim Cullum for spending time talking to me, and
for his fascinating account of the Dude Skiles/Bix cornet story. I also
want to thank Sterlin Holmesly for giving me information about the
cornet, and for pointing me in the right direction. Last, but not
least, my thanks to Don Mopsick for helping me with contacts.
Note 1. Another of the lost instruments was a Getzen cornet that
belonged to Bobby Hackett.
"I would probably have been happy
to play the French Besson for the rest of my days had not the Landing
audience one night contained Sandy Sandberg, sales manager for the
newly organized Getzen Co. of Elkhorn, Wisconsin. Sandy pushed a new
Getzen cornet into my hand and bingo, I had a new lover. The Getzen’s
design was influenced by a rare 1950s Conn cornet and by the French
Besson, and I always thought the designer had been both smart and
lucky. Getzen made up a large bore model just for me and I was a Getzen
“artist” and advocate for 25 years.
In 1968 Bobby Hackett arrived in
San Antonio to record with our band [N.B. Audiophile Album Goose Pimples, 1967], and as he
unpacked, out came a shiny Getzen cornet. Hackett had been seduced just
as I had. But Hackett was fickle about cornets, and the next time I saw
him he had a Benge cornet and then an Olds that had belonged to Red
Bobby gave his Getzen cornet to Jim. Sadly, that cornet, too, was lost.