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Bitsy Mullins, Jazz and Lead Trumpet

Read more about Bitsy on these Internet links: -

Message from Bitsy's son Joseph Mullins

Goodbye to an old friend

Arkansas Jazz articles links

Arkansas Jazz Archives - Obituary

Bitsy Mullins in 1946

I am so proud of my association with my late friend Bitsy Mullins.
Over a period of a few short years, we pulled together enough information about his long and illustrious career to fill a book. In fact we had planned to produce one but it was on hold whilst my volume on His Master's Voice portable gramophones was being produced.

In the meantime,we created a series of articles (heavily edited from his reminiscences) that appeared in the magazine Memory Lane.

BITSY MULLINS TIMELINE (For more information read my articles in Memory Lane!)

13th March, 1926 Born Pine Bluff, Arkansas

1932 Started playing piano aged 6 "That is at least where I learned the rudiments of music, the keys, and the time and all that."

1936 Started playing cornet aged 10.

1942 Graduated from High School,"I played in the dance band up there. A trombone player, Leo Benson, whose older sister, Lorraine, was singing with, and later married, a man by the name of Ray Herbeck who had what was kind of described in those days as a 'semi-name' band. Herbeck called me and offered me he job in 1944, but I was due to go up for an army physical and I was turned down so I called him that night and the next day I was on my way on a train to Kansas City, Missouri, to join his band."

6 September 1944 - January 1945 Ray Herbeck Orchestra

 

8 January 1945 to late May 1945 Randy Brooks Orchestra

 

June 1945 to 11 December 1945 Charlie Spivak Orchestra
During this period Bitsy has his cornet stolen and he moves to trumpet

November 1945 Bitsy joins Buddy Rich's new orchestra. He works out his notice with Spivak at the Commodore Hotel and rehearses with Rich at Haven Studios New York during the day. First gig with Rich
24 December 1945 leaves June 1946

mid 1946-1948 Bitsy goes back to the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR and graduates with BS Chemistry and Mathematics in Spring 1948.
Summer 1947 Bitsy played with University of Texas band and also with Buddy Morrow Orchestra

Autumn 1948 Ray McKinley Orchestra (Bitsy was working generally outside the music business for 10 months around this time)

1948-50 Bitsy runs his own 10 piece band in Little Rock, AR, then to Freeport, LA with a four piece band. Other engagements with "mouse" bands follow.

1950 Short period with Blue Steele Orchestra

 

Autumn 1950 - March 1951 Joe Reichman Orchestra

 

March 1951 Milt Chapman orchestra

 

Late March 1951 - Autumn 1951 Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra

 

Autumn 1951 - January 1952 Claude Thornhill Orchestra

 

February 1952 - May 1952 Ray McKinley Orchestra (Plus dates with Bob Brookmeyer's Orchestra)

May 1952 - May 1953 Tex Beneke Orchestra

 

May 1953 - February 1954 Ray McKinley Orchestra

 

13 March 1954 - 10 November 1955 Tommy Dorsey Orchestra (Featuring Jimmy Dorsey)
(Bitsy moved from jazz trumpet chair to lead trumpet at this point)

November 1955 - January 1956 Ray McKinley Orchestra

 

1956 - October 1975 The Las Vegas Years

January 1956 - 1958 The Frontier Hotel, Las Vegas
1958 The Tropicana (with Nat Brandwyn Orchestra arranger Gordon Jenkins)
1959 The Stardust
1959 Riviera Hotel (short period as dep)
mid 1959 - 1966 The Dunes (under the leadership of Bill Reddie)
mid 1960s The Fremont Hotel

1969 South African tour with Patti Page and 'The New Faces'

 

1982 Bitsy forced to retire from music following a car accident

5 July 2003 Died Pine Bluff, Arkansas

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BITSY MULLINS RECORDINGS
Sadly, Bitsy made few recordings although he did appear on dozens of radio broadcasts with many of the leaders listed above and on TV with Tommy Dorsey (Stage Shows).

Only a few of his recordings have been made available and these in the main are those from his spell with Buddy Rich.
If you have any information on his time with other bands, please let me know, particularly recordings made with the orchestras of Buddy Rich, Charlie Spivak, Tex Beneke, Jimmy Dorsey and the Dorseys together.
Here are a number of recordings that have been (and some still are) commercially available.

BUDDY RICH AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Broadcast from VALLEY FORGE GENERAL HOSPITAL PHOENIXVILLE PA 24-Dec-45
1 COCA COLA THEME INTO LET'S BLOW (AS THEME)
2 COOL BREEZE
3 MINDING MY BUSINESS V.Dorothy Reid
4 DESPERATE DESMOND
5 I CAN'T BEGIN TO TELL YOU V Dorothy Reid

Recording Session for V-DISC NEW YORK CITY Jan-46
1 HANDICAP

Broadcast QUONSET NAVAL AIR STATION, RHODE ISLAND
25-Jan-46

1 COCA COLA THEME INTO
2 RAIN ON THE RIFF (THEME)
3 RAGS TO RICHES
4 YOU'VE GOT ME CRYIN' AGAIN V DR
5 BUDDY SPEAKS
6 DAY BY DAY V DR
7 QUIET RIOT (INTO CLOSING THEME)

Buddy Rich with Bitsy at the Hollywood Palledium 1946
Buddy Rich and his orchestra
at the Hollywood Palledium 1946

 

Recording Session for MERCURY, NEW YORK CITY
05-Feb-46

1 DATELESS BROWN
2 YOU'VE GOT ME CRYIN' AGAIN V DR
3 DESPERATE DESMOND
4 IT COULDN'T BE TRUE V DR

Broadcasts from the HOLLYWOOD PALLEDIUM, CA
21-Mar-46
1 LET'S BLOW
2 OH, WHAT IT SEEMED TO BE V DR
3 JUST YOU, JUST ME
4 I DON'T KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT YOU V BR
5 PERSONALITY V DR
6 QUIET RIOT

23-Mar-46
1 SOMEBODY LIKE YOU


Buddy Rich and Bitsy Mullins 1946

 

27-Mar-46
1 POONTANG
2 I'M ALWAYS CHASING RAINBOWS V DR
3 JUST YOU, JUST ME
4 DO YOU LOVE ME VDR
5 GREAT MOMENTS
6 IT'S ABOUT TIME V BR
7 LET'S BLOW
8 RAIN ON THE RIFF (THEME)

BROADCAST 1 28-Mar-46
1 RAIN ON THE RIFF (THEME)
2 FEATHER MERCHANT
3 DAY BY DAY V DR
4 IT'S ONLY A PAPER MOON
5 DATELESS BROWN
6 YOU'VE GOT ME CRYIN' AGAIN V DR
7 RAGS TO RICHES
8 FRIM FRAM SAUCE V BR
9 COOL BREEZE

Bitsy Mullins in Tommy Dorsey's trumpet sections

Bitsy (far left) in Tommy Dorsey's trumpet section

 

BROADCAST 2 28-Mar-46
1 RAIN ON THE RIFF (THEME)
2 HANDICAP
3 I COVER THE WATERFRONT
4 SOMEBODY LIKE YOU
5 JUST A SITTIN' AND A ROCKIN' VDR
6 I'M JUST A LUCKY SO AND SO V BR
7 DAILY DOUBLE
8 RAIN ON THE RIFF (THEME)

09-Apr-46
1 I COVER THE WATERFRONT
2 HANDICAP

17-Apr-46
1 LET'S BLOW
2 GREAT MOMENTS
3 IT COULDN'T BE TRUE V DR
4 SOMEBODY LIKE YOU
5 ROUTE 66 V BR

Bitsy takes a break!
Bitsy at Shreeveport 1951 taking a break
with a cigarette and a beer

 
Mar/Apl 46
1 THE WONDER OF YOU V DR
2 AREN'T YOU GLAD YOU'RE YOU V BR

2-Apr-46
1 POOR LITTLE RICH BUD

Recording Session for MERCURY, LOS ANGELES, CA
24-Apr-46

1 QUIET RIOT
2 BABY BABY ALL THE TIME V BR (BITSY PLAYS DRUMS ON THIS TITLE)
3 ROUTE 66 V BR (BITSY PLAYS DRUMS ON THIS TITLE)
4 THE IGGITY SONG V THE WOODCHUCKS 
   

MILT CHAPMAN AND HIS ORCHESTRA
CLUB CORINADO, BOSSIER CITY, LA
Broadcast 17-Mar-1951
1. THEME (I DIDN'T KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT YOU)
2. 'A' YOU'RE ADORABLE v SAM CONRAD
3. GOLDEN EARRINGS v SC
4. BOY MEETS HORN
5. I DON'T KNOW WHY v SC
6. YOU'RE JUST IN LOVE
7. RUMBA RHAPSODY
8. THEME (I DIDN'T KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT YOU)

 

 

TOMMY DORSEY AND HIS ORCHESTRA
(FEATURING JIMMY DORSEY)

TV "Stage Shows"
for CBS TV from Cafe Rouge, Hotel Statler, New York City
1-Jan-55 with guests Duke Ellington, Johnny Ray and Mindy Carson
8-Jan-55 with guests Johnny Ray and Patti Page
12-Mar-55 with guests Count Basie, Kate Smith, DeMarco Sisters
19-Mar-55 with guests Nat King Cole and McGuire Sisters

Radio Broadcasts, New York City
15-Jan-55
22-Jan-55
26-Jan-55

Private Recording Cafe Rouge, Hotel Statler, New York City
28-Oct-55

Private Recording
BILL REDDIE ORCHESTRA, DUNES HOTEL, LAS VEGAS, NEV
Early 1964

"CASINO DE PARIS" FULL SHOW 



Bitsy in Las Vegas 1968

 
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