Black L.A. 1947: The Story of Jimmie Lunceford’s Death

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July 24, 1947: The Sentinel publishes an account of the death of bandleader Jimmie Lunceford.

According to the article by Wendell Green, at dinner before that night’s performance, Lunceford told band members that he “ached all over.” He went on the band bus to try to sleep but the owner of a nearby record store asked him to autograph some albums and Lunceford obliged.

Lunceford collapsed in the record store and was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital. The band wasn’t informed of Lunceford’s death and played the first set. Several band members wanted to quit playing because the ballroom was refusing admission to black people who had gathered outside, but continued the set in the belief that Lunceford would handle the problem.

Also on the jump: Wendell Green says farewell to the Show Time column because he’s being replaced by Clinton M. Arnold, who covered the San Diego slavery trial.

During the break before the second set, a phone company worker told sax player Joe Thompson that he overheard a conversation between the road manager and the ballroom’s operators that Lunceford was dead. Kirtland Bradford, another sax player, called the hospital and confirmed that Lunceford died.

The band played a few more engagements, but could not continue the tour because the contracts had been made with Lunceford personally, the Sentinel said.

July 24, 1947, Jimmie Lunceford

L.A. Sentinel, 1947

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
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3 Responses to Black L.A. 1947: The Story of Jimmie Lunceford’s Death

  1. No cause of death?


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