BREAKING NEWS OF 1942: PEE WEE ERWIN LAUNCHES OWN NAME IN THE BIG TIME!

This full-page advertisement (a musical history in photographs) comes from the 1942 Conn instruments advertisement book / brochure.  It’s a delightful piece of ancient musical history but also serves as a reason to celebrate George “Pee Wee” Erwin, one of the great yet underrated lyrically hot trumpeters for more than four decades.  Early on (as the photographs show) he worked with Joe Haymes, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Ray Noble, Tommy Dorsey — in that latter situation, being asked in 1937 to follow Bunny Berigan, a nearly impossible task.  I don’t know how long his 1942 fame lasted, but after the end of the Swing Era he led memorable small “Dixieland” bands at Nick’s and Lou Terassi’s . . . I saw him play in 1974 as part of Bob Greene’s THE WORLD OF JELLY ROLL MORTON — in a concert recorded and issued on RCA Victor (the other members of the band were Milt Hinton, Tommy Benford, Alan Cary, Herb Hall, and Ephie Resnick).  Late in life Pee Wee was able to record several relaxed, unhackneyed sessions under his own name for the Qualtro label — one a duet with Bucky Pizzarelli, others just as sweetly expert.

I don’t understand how someone “Launches own Name IN THE BIG TIME,” but perhaps that’s why I was never an advertising copywriter.

As a lead trumpeter or a hot soloist, he is someone we miss!

May your happiness increase.

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4 responses to “BREAKING NEWS OF 1942: PEE WEE ERWIN LAUNCHES OWN NAME IN THE BIG TIME!

  1. Hi Michael,

    I really appreciated this little reminder of what a fine trumpeter Pee Wee was. I was fortunate enough to have heard him at a big concert at Radio City Music Hall back in the late 1970s. I will pay him the ultimate compliment often bestowed by his peers: he could PLAY!

    Actually, Pee Wee launched his first band in the summer of 1941, when he took over Bunny Berigan’s band, which had mutinied because Bunny had been unable to pay them their full salaries for several weeks. The complete story of that is in Chapter 23 of “Mr. Trumpet”…”On the Road for MCA.”

    Thanks again for taking us back in the history of the music we love.

    Michael P. Zirpolo
    Author,
    “Mr. Trumpet…
    The Trials, Tribulations and
    Triumph of Bunny Berigan”

  2. Sort of makes Erwin sound like a nobody before this ad: “Pee Wee Erwin, now worth a damn!”

    Thank god today’s press releases would never suffer such confusing, borderline tactless verbiage…right?

  3. And it’s all because he plays a Conn trumpet . . . !

  4. Pee Wee’s band went absolutely nowhere. I don’t even know of any recordings.

    Conn could have given him an even decade in the “big time” if they’d included Joe Haymes’ band, which nearly made the big time in 1932, and would have if it hadn’t been such a terrible year for bands.

    Pee Wee’s first records were with Haymes, and mighty fine records they were, too.

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