Thursday, September 9, 2010

Researching Babe Egan and Her Hollywood Redheads

Babe Egan (1897-1966)  was a violinist and bandleader who had an all-girl band called the Hollywood Redheads that was very successful from 1924 until 1933.  They toured those years as a vaudeville act throughout the United States, Canada, and in Europe.  In the 1980s, I met several of the "girls" who had played with her and heard the amazing stories about Babe and her band.  Many women musicians in Los Angeles who knew her and who had played with her band said she was a terrific musician and inspired them to go into music professionally. I wrote about Babe and her band in my my book, Peggy Gilbert & Her All-Girl Band (Scarecrow Press, 2008).  In the next couple of weeks on this blog I will share with you some of my research.  I am writing a book about the band and keep running into snags--things that I just can't figure out. 

In many ways, doing such research is like being a detective.  I have very few items that Babe wrote herself. Most all of the documents are from the band members' recollections and from newspaper accounts.  Sometimes it is difficult to separate the promotional materials (hoopla) from what actual took place.  Researching vaudeville history is always difficult because there were tens of thousands of vaudeville performers and hundreds of venues. An earlier post on this blog was about one of Babe's trombone player Fern Spaulding Jaros who played with Babe's band. The other musicians included: Estelle Dilthey (drums), Billy (ie) Farley (banjo), Edith Griffith (piano), Dot Sauter (bass),  Mildred Stevenson (trombone and violin), Anne B. Rehnborg (trumpet),  Shirley Lee Thomas (trumpet), Marie Connor (saxophone), Audrey Hall Petroff (saxophone), Jerry Mark (saxophone), Juanita Klein (saxophone and clarinet), Virginia Maupin (trumpet and violin), Miriam Stiglitz (saxophone), among others.  I would appreciate any information my readers have about Babe and her band members. Anyone else interested in jazz history of the 1920s and vaudeville?