ROLLIE and A CAMERA

Courtesy of eBay, of course, and courtesy of the seller “anystuffyouwant,” who says these items are from his personal collection of fifty years.

Rollie was a photographer presumably based in Colorado (where KLZ was a famous radio station) in the early Forties.  His photographs are impressive and he also made friends with his subjects. Here are a few of his photographs that turned up for sale. (Incidentally, I am assuming that Rollie was male — but impulsive online research turned up no leads to his / her identity except much on the younger woman photographer Rollie McKenna, who captured Dylan Thomas, so . . . )

Ella:

ELLA 1941

Tommy Reynolds:

TOMMY REYNOLDS 1940

Duke and bassist Junior Raglin (thanks to Jimmie Blanton scholar Matthias Heyman for confirming this) :

DUKE 1941

A close-up of George Wettling:

GEO W single

George as part of a larger band:

GEO W band

Mel Torme with three singing colleagues who presumably pre-date the Mel-Tones:

MEL TORME KLZ

Mel at his own drum set:


MEL AT THE DRUMSA few small mysteries.  Some readers may be able to identify the singers with Mel.  Drum fanciers will have something to say about Geo W’s set and Mel’s.  I can’t identify anyone in the band that Wettling is playing in, and find it odd that he should have a bass drum with a radio station logo and his own Geo W.  If someone could decipher the KLZ logo (is that a mountain peak?) and explain why there’s a clipper ship on the back wall, I wouldn’t mind, either.

Even if those mysteries remain unsolved, it is cheering to know such artifacts of a vanished time exist so that we can see them.

May your happiness increase!

9 responses to “ROLLIE and A CAMERA

  1. The KLZ looks to be a flag that he hung over his bass drum.

  2. Wonderful pictures!
    The band with George Wettling on drums (and Barney Kessel on guitar, by the way) may well be Chico Marx’s (the one idolized by Judge Stone on TV series Night Court). Mel Tormé was on it (singing, playing drums and arranging for the vocal group), as well as Johnny Frigo and Marty Marsala. The band itself was put together by Ben Pollack. See this and this.
    Best,
    F

  3. Fernando, once again you have ridden to the rescue with information! Thank you!

  4. The singers are, from left to right:
    Bobby Clark, Elise Cooper, Mel Tormé and Johnny Frigo. Definitely the Chico Marx band and, according to the Marx-Brothers.org website, from 1942.

  5. Sordoni III, Andrew

    Michael, Rollie is not to be confused with the syphilitic dwarf, Rollo Phlecks, who was staff photographer for Chiaroscuro Records. Andrew Sordoni Sent from my iPad

  6. Of course. But I didn’t know about RP’s medical problems, and the news is saddening.

  7. HI Michael– great pictures… art mystery– it looks to me as if the KLZ banner is hanging in front of the cartoon on the drum- the cartoon appears to be some kind of fish, perhaps relating to George…not the station. As for the clipper ship backdrop- who can say, it may just be something someone thought was beautiful or that the picture is promotional and taken in a club. that would also explain the banner hanging from the drum, no?
    Love to you and the beloved.

  8. Thanks for calling in, dear Laurie! But now I have the solution — I think. If, as Fernando has pointed out, this is the Chico Marx band, the cartoon figure behind the banner is Chico as a clown / jester / Pagilacci figure. Visually it makes sense, and thus the band was doing a broadcast . . . love and thanks back!

  9. Pingback: FROM THE STUDIOS OF STATION KLZ: THE DUKE VISITS COLORADO (1942) | JAZZ LIVES

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