Swingin’ in Harlem

Erskine Hawkins

July 26, 1914 – November 11, 1993

Trumpet player and big band leader Erskine Hawkins was born on July 26, 1914 Birmingham, Alabama.

As a high schooler, Hawkins was taught by Fess Whatley, whose other pupils went on to play with Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and others.

Hawkins gained popularity in the ‘30s as a bandleader and songwriter, penning the 1939 hit “Tuxedo Junction.”

In 1936 he began making records for Vocalion as Erskine Hawkins and his “‘Bama State Collegians” later billed simply as “Erskine Hawkins and His Orchestra.”

Dubbed “The 20th Century Gabriel” he is remembered best as the co-composer of the 1939 jazz standard “Tuxedo Junction” with saxophonist Bill Johnson.

He would continue to record, on RCA in the ’40s, and for the Coral label during the 1950s.

Beginning in 1967 up until his death on November 11, 1993, Erskine Hawkins was leader of the band in the lobby bar of The Concord Resort Hotel in Kiamesha Lake, New York.

The “Erskine Hawkins Orchestra” appear in a scene from the 1937 film <I>”Deviled Ham”</I> including Erskine Hawkins (trumpet & leader), Dud Bascomb (trumpet), Willie Johnson (alto sax), Paul Bascomb (alto sax), and Haywood Henry (baritone sax).

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