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A Chronology: 50 Years of Easters Entertainment

by B. R. Plotnick
MAGAZINE, April 1965

The appearance this week-end [Spring, 1965] of the Highwaymen and the Kirby Stone Four marks the 50th consecutive year that nationally recognized talent was hired for the Easters festivities.

The history of Easters as a dance and party event goes back a good deal further than 50 years but only since 1915 have the dance societies brought in outside entertainment. Prior to that music was provided by local musicians on a pick-up basis. National dance bands have a history not much longer than 50 years.

With the appearance on Grounds of Meyer Davis's Washington Orchestra in 1915, Easters entered a new era. At this time Easters was a seven day affair with at least two major dances plus smaller private parties with private orchestras. After 1915 Easters expanded to eventually four major dances, often played by a single orchestra hired for the week, and numerous other entertainments competing for attention.

The record of Easters entertainment is extraordinary. The talent brought in was major talent respected nationally, at least for as long as the dance band era lasted. While it may be chauvinistic to assert that dance bands considered it a mark of distinction to be invited to play at Easters, it's not nearly as unfounded as it sounds.

"College Topics" for Easters 1922 reported that after Meyer Davis was hired for the week, Paul Whiteman repeatedly telegraphed attempting to get the contract. This is entirely believable when we note the orchestras that played here and their popularity at the time.

Meyer Davis, a still familiar name in society dance bands, was here nine times. Gene Krupa came here in one of his first engagements after leaving Benny Goodman to form his own band. Guy Lombardo made his first of three Easters trips here in 1930, shortly after arriving from Canada. Vincent Lopez brought a new and eventually highly successful orchestra here in 1931. Glenn Miller was here at the peak of his popularity in 1940.

The names below are among the most prominent of their era. Economies, taste, and the changing character of students have modified Easters and its entertainment. To give you some idea of the change, we present this chronology of fifty years of Easters entertainment.

1965 Highwaymen, Chuck Berry, Kirby Stone Four

1964 Josh White, Phoenix Singers, Thornton Singers, Jesse Colin Young

1963 Leroy Holmes Orch, Odetta, Chad Mitchell Trio

1962 Billy May Orch, Lionel Hampton Band

1961 Kai Winding Septet, Lambert, Hendricks, & Ross

1960 Charlie Barnet, Four Freshmen

1959 Tommy Dorsey Orch with Warren Covington, Dukes of Dixieland, Chris Connor

1958 Louis Armstrong Band

1957 Lionel Hampton Band

1956 Duke Ellington, Errol Garner, Jimmy McPartland (Scott Stadium concert)

1955 Charlie Barnet, Conrad Janis & His Tailgate 5

1954 Sammy Kaye, Woody Herman

1953 Tommy Dorsey Orch

1952 Ralph Marterie Orch

1951 Hal McIntyre Orch, Patti Page

1950 Les Brown Band ("The Band of Reknown" began at Duke)

1949 Vaughn Monroe & Orch

1948 Xavier Cugat, Eddie Duchin

1947 Ray McKinley Orch, Tony Pastor Orch

1946 Stan Kenton with June Christy, Randy Brooks with Pat Cameron

1945 Scheduled were: Nat Brandywine, Mal Hallett.
Easters cancelled due to the death of President Roosevelt who had close ties to the University

1944 Bobby Sherwood Orch

1943 Bob Chester Orch

1942 Tony Pastor Orch, Roye Stoenner Orch

1941 Tommy Dorsey Orch, Bob Chester, Dean Hudson

1940 Jack Teagarden Band, Glenn Miller Orch

1939 Larry Clinton Orch, Ben Bernie Orch

1938 Gene Krupa Band, Sammy Kaye Orch

1937 Charles Dornberger, Horace Heidt with guitarist Alvino Ray & 35 piece(!) Orch, Count Basie Orch

1936 Noble Sissle Orch, Jan Garber Orch, Ozzie Nelson & Orch with Harriet Hilliard

1935 Jim Fettis, Guy Lombardo Orch

1934 Smith Ballew

1933 Don Bestor Orch, Guy Lornbardo Orch

1932 Wayne King Orch

1931 Vincent Lopez Orch

1930 Guy Lombardo Orch

1929 Ted Weems Orch

1928 Jan Garber Orch

1927 Ross Gorman Orch

1926 Howard Lanin Orch

1925 Howard Lanin Orch

1924 Meyer Davis Orch

1923 Meyer Davis Orch

1922 Meyer Davis Orch

1921 Sherbo' s Orch

1920 Meyer Davis Orch

1919 Meyer Davis Orch

1918 Meyer Davis Orch

1917 Evan Williams - Tenor, Meyer Davis Orch

1916 Meyer Davis Orch

1915 Meyer Davis Orch

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