(Violin players need straight fingers after all.) The broken finger was the best thing that could have ever happened to him. In 1916 where he found his way to Hollywood and worked playing trumpet in a movie theatre pit band. He later was one of the original keystone cops and counted among his friends Ray Bolger, Gorge Raft, Ginger Rogers, Edward G. Robinson and his best friend Bing Crosby.
He formed his own band and toured the country ending up in San Francisco where they disbanded. Al Hirt and Herb Alpert say they were inspired by Busse Sr.'s trumpet solos, particularly his rendition of "Rhapsody in Blue." ["He and singer Bing Crosby invented the mute for trumpet".- whoever put this in got something wrong - the trumpet mute has been around since the middle ages - I think the writer meant he invented a particular model of mute - please contact me at www.VintageMutes.com] Although Busse primarily used a mute, which made his straightforward style unique and immediately identifiable, he did occasionally play open trumpet as on "Red Hot Henry Brown", recorded by Busse's Buzzards on August 27, 1925 in NYC. Personnel on that session: Frank Siegrist (tp) Wilbur Hall (tb) Hal McLean (as, bar) E. Lyle Sharpe (cl, ts) Joe Venuti (vln) Harry Perella or Raymond Turner (p) Mike Pingatore (bj) Joe Sperzel (tu). His muted trumpet proved to be the perfect foil to Bix Beiderbecke's laconic, inventive and flowing improvised lines on open cornet, when playing or recording together in the Paul Whiteman Orchestra. An example of this can be heard in "Love Nest", recorded February 10, 1928 in NYC. In 1917 Busse played the trumpet with the 'Frisco "Jass" Band'.
Henry Busse first made it big in 1918 with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, which he founded and would have managed if it weren't for a German accent that played poorly in post-WW1 America. At one point, eight of the top ten sheet music sales spots belonged to the band. And during his peak with them, Busse was earning $350 weekly while fellow band member Bing Crosby was earning just $150. He co-composed several of the band's early hit songs including "Hot Lips" and "Wang Wang Blues".
He was concertmaster for the Whiteman Band when it toured Europe in the '20s and there discovered a song written by a German doctor. Back in the States, Johnny DeSilvia penned new words and the song's name was changed to "When Day is Done." It was a hit and made Busse Sr. famous. While with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, Henry Busse Sr. played alongside the Dorsey brothers, who also later left to start their own separate bands.
He also played with Ray Bolger at the Chez Paree, a night club owned by notorious gangster Al Capone. Henry Busse Sr. ran the house band there and worked for Capone. He hit his heyday in 1930-45, playing dance music before the war and swing during it. His music was often berated by Downbeat magazine, which called his a "sweet" or "Mickey Mouse" band.
But no one made more money than those "sweet" dance band leaders, including Lawrence Welk and Guy Lombardo. He and his band appeared in an MGM color movie in 1935 at the Lido in San Francisco along with Clark Gable and MGM's stable of stars and in the movie "Lady Let's Dance" in which he had a speaking part. His personal life wound up in gossip columns when he partied one night with a woman at the Hotsy Totsy Club and woke up married. After sobering up, he sought an annulment, but it took 18 months to unwind the legal tangle and a tour in Europe to stave off arrest for nonpayment of alimony. In 1928, after mastering English much better, Busse Sr. began Henry Busse and the Shuffle Rhythm Band, which enjoyed great success in the '30s and '40s. A year later Busse Sr.
married Dorothy Drake, a former model and stage actress. Their only son, Henry Busse Jr., was born in 1931, and was 3 when his parents divorced. Busse stayed with Whiteman until 1928 when he left the band and formed his own group, The Henry Busse Orchestra. This group which was more of a sweet dance band than a jazz band had a very successful career. Henry Busse and his Orchestra continued to record and perform up until his death in 1955 at an undertaker's convention at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis while he was playing with his Shuffle Rhythm Band. Read more on Last.fm.
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