June 6, 1902 to July 13, 1947
Jimmie Lunceford went to high school and grew up in Denver he studied music under Wilberforce J. Whiteman, father of Paul Whiteman. As a young man he learned several instruments and played alto saxophone in a local theatre. After high school, Lunceford continued his studies at Fisk University. He studied in New York and played there with Wilbur Sweatman, Elmer Snowden and others.
In 1927 at High School in Memphis, Tennessee, he organized a student band, the Chickasaw Syncopators. He changed to the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra in 1929 and started his professional career.
The band had some early engagements in Memphis, Lakeside, Ohio and Buffalo. Played New York fall of 1933. In early 1934 the band accepted a booking at the The Cotton Club. His orchestra attracted attention with the hot numbers White Heat and Jazznocracy which was the bands theme. Another theme was Rhythm Is Our Business. Sy Oliver was mostly responsible for the bands style. The band toured Europe extensively in 1937, but had to cancel a second tour in 1939 because of the outbreak of World War II. Oliver left the band in 1939 to arrange for Tommy Dorsey.
The orchestra appeared in the 1941 movie Blues in the Night, also some shorts. By mid 1942 personal changes lowered moral leading to the band's decline.
On July 12, 1947, while playing in Seaside, Oregon, Lunceford collapsed and died from cardiac arrest during an autograph session. Allegations and rumors circulated that he had been poisoned by a restaurant owner who was unhappy at having to serve a "Negro" in his establishment. This story is given credence by the fact other members of Lunceford's band who ate at this restaurant were sick within hours of the meal. Jimmie Lunceford was layed to rest at Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis.
White Heat 1934
Rhythm Is Our Business Film
'Tain't What You Do
Organ Grinder's Swing 1936
The Honeydripper 1945
Running A Temperature 1936
Blues In The Night 1942
My Blue Heaven 1936
Uptown Blues 1939