Coon, Carleton (A. St.)

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Coon, Carleton (A. St.)

Coon, Carleton (A. St.) , jazz drummer, leader, singer; b. Rochester, Minn., Feb. 5, 1894; d. Chicago, 111., May 4, 1932. He grew up in Lexington, Mo., where he became interested in black music by hanging out with dock workers. He formed a band in high school and met pianist and singer Joe Sanders at a music store in Kansas City around the end of World War I; they formed a band (1920) that performed there for several years; Sanders wrote much of the material for the group of nine to ten pieces. They achieved wider fame during the mid-1920s due to late night radio broadcasts throughout the Mid-west from the Muehlebach Hotel. Known as the Coon-Sanders Nighthawks, the band was heard nationwide and in Canada, and their program had popular features such as a telegraph site near the band to which listeners could send in requests, comments, and greetings to friends, which would be read during the show. They performed at Lincoln Tavern and Congress Hotel in Chicago (1924), and later returned for a long stint at the Blackhawk Restaurant (1926), from which they made nightly radio broadcasts; this led to a recording contract with Victor and some 80 recorded songs. They also had their own NBC radio show for a while. Keeping their home base in Kansas City, they frequently toured college dances and other one-night gigs, traveling flam-boyantly in a caravan of colorful sports cars, one to each musician. From late 1931 through March 1932 or longer, they were at the Hotel New Yorker in N.Y. Soon after, the band was performing at Hotel Sherman’s Coll. Inn, Chicago, when Coon was suffering from a jaw abscess due to an infected tooth and checked in to Henrotin Memorial Hospital. He suddenly died, and the band broke up a year later.


“Sluefoot” (1927); “Here Comes My Ball and Chain” (1928).

—Lewis Porter