Eddie Condon Biography

Albert Edwin Condon, 16 November 1905, Goodland, Indiana, USA, d. 4 July 1973, New York City, USA. After working in local bands, guitarist and banjoist Condon moved to Chicago in the early 20s. He quickly associated himself with the very finest young white musicians based there: Bix Beiderbecke, Frank Teschemacher, Jimmy McPartland, Bud Freeman, Dave Tough and other members of the Austin High School Gang. In 1928, soon after making his first record, he tried his brand of music in New York, happily starving in between recording sessions with, among others, Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong. Despite some indifference amongst audiences, local musicians were impressed both with Condon and some of the friends he had brought along, including Gene Krupa and, later, Jack Teagarden. Condon stayed on in New York, building a reputation as an organizer of concerts and recording sessions. A regular at several clubs, notably Nick’s, he eventually opened his own which became synonymous with the best of Chicago-style jazz as played by such long-time friends and musical partners as Wild Bill Davison and Pee Wee Russell.

A tough-talking, hard-drinking, wisecracking entrepreneur, Condon never lost his abiding love for the music of his youth, dismissing bebop with a joke ‘They play their flatted fifths, we drink ours’, just as he did to outside criticism ‘Do we tell those Frogs how to jump on a grape?’. Unlike many wits, Condon was able to retain his humour in print and his three books provide fascinating and funny insights into the world in which he lived and worked. In his later years he made occasional overseas tours and continued to do recording sessions. Although a good rhythm player, Condon was often disinclined to perform, leaving his instrument, nicknamed ‘Porkchop’, in its case while he got on with the serious business of talking to customers and drinking. His reluctance to play often infiltrated record sessions and on many he either laid out or contented himself with providing a discreet pulse which only the other musicians could hear. Consequently, he is not necessarily always audible on the records which bear his name. His influence, however, is always apparent.


Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.


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