Wettling, George (Godfrey)

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Wettling, George (Godfrey)

Wettling, George (Godfrey), jazz drummer; b. Topeka, Kans., Nov. 28, 1907; d. N.Y., June 6, 1968. His family moved to Chicago when he was young; there he studied drums with Roy Knapp and heard early jazz players like Baby Dodds. Wettling worked in several Chicago bands during the 1920s, then played with Paul Mares in the mid-1930s. He toured with British bandleader Jack Hylton’s band in 1935, and played in several cities with Wingy Manone a year later. In late 1936, Wettling settled in N.Y., and joined Artie Shaw’s first big band, leaving in March 1937. After working with Bunny Berigan (March-December 1937) and Red Norvo (1938), he joined Paul Whiteman (1939-March 1941), while also working freelance and recording. He worked with various leaders over the next few years, including frequent appearances with Miff Mole’s Band (1943-44). From 1943-52, he was a staff musician at the ABC studios; during this period did many jazz gigs including long spells at Eddie Condon’s Club. He made numerous recordings in the 1940s and 1950s with Yank Lawson, Dick Cary, Billie Holiday, PeeWee Russell, Jack Teagarden, Hackett, Spanier, Bud Freeman, Joe Sullivan, Sidney Bechet, and Ralph Sutton. Wettling was briefly out of action in the summer 1946 because of a broken arm. From 1953 he led own small groups in N.Y. He played many sessions with Eddie Condon during the 1950s and toured Great Britain with him in January 1957. Wettling played with Muggsy Spanier occasionally in 1959 and 1960 and did a brief tour with Bud Freeman (autumn 1960); he made regular playing trips to Toronto during the 1960s, and toured briefly with the Dukes of Dixieland. During the last years of his life he led his own trio at the Gaslight Club in N.Y., and also worked in Clarence Hutchenrider’s Trio. An amateur painter, several of his works graced jazz record album covers; a collection of his paintings is held at the Inst. of Jazz Studies at Rutgers Univ. He died of lung cancer in N.Y and was buried in Chicago.


George Wettling’s Jazz Band (1951); Jazz Trios (1956); Dixieland in Hi-Fi (1957).

—John Chilton Who’s Who of Jazz/Lewis Porter