—EXPLORING LOST HISTORIES OF THE NORTHWEST MUSIC BIZ SINCE 1982—
SEATTLE HARMONY KINGS: 1920s
HOW MANY TIMES have record hunters been fooled when they uncovered 78 rpm discs by a Roaring '20s dance-band credited as the Seattle Harmony Kings & quite reasonably assumed that they were an early crew on the 206 scene? Well, I confess to being one in that category – but with a name like this, who could have guessed that the swingin' combo was not from the Pacific Northwest.
It appears that eight decades ago, little ol' Seattle seemed like such an exotic far-west locale that a Chicago-based musical group happily named themselves the Seattle Harmony Kings. The Kings were a subset of the Benson Orchestra, which had been formed by Edgar A. Benson – a cellist who managed bands in the Windy City. Benson eventually got so busy booking his bands that he hired other guys (like Roy Bargy) to lead them. The Kings were directed by clarinet and tenor sax-man, Eddie Neibaur, and fellow band-members included: Bennie Neibaur (trombone & vocals), Earl Baker (trumpet), Marvin Hamby (trumpet), Leon Kaplan (banjo), Swede Knudsen (tuba), Rosy McHargue (clarinet, alto sax), Joe Thomas (piano), & Richie Miller (drums).
One info source posited that the Kings was a name Victor applied to the group in order to differentiate them -- & their electrically recorded songs -- from the Benson Orchestra's acoustically recorded works. Perhaps. But what we know for sure is that on September 2, 1925 two songs -- "Darktown Shuffle" & "If I Had A Girl Like You" -- were captured by Victor in Camden, New Jersey. Then, nearly one year later – on August 2, 1926 – a Victor session in New York City yielded "Breezin' Along (With The Breeze)" & "How Many Times?" These guys are certainly harmonious musicians, maybe even kingly with their skills – but they sure ain't from Sea-Town.