Francis Joseph Julian Spanier was born in Chicago in 1906 (or 1901 depending on the sources). He learnt cornet at the age of 13. His first professional job was at 21 in the Elmer Shoebel’s orchestra and his first recording at 24. He played in the Ted Lewis’ band for 7 years, starting in 1929. Then in the Ben Pollack’s orchestra. Serious heath issues had him hospitalized for three months in 1938. It’s after his recovery that he started his own band as leader, the Ragtime Band, with wich he impulsed the “Dixieland Revival” of the 40’s, thanks to their Bluebird recordings of 1939, later called “The Great Sixteen”. In the early 40’s he worked for Bob Crosby before starting his own big band in 1942, then he went back to the Dixieland style with his Ragtimers, with wich he recorded for Commodore.

Great shot of Spanier in New York in 1946 (source: Wikipedia)

When the United States got involved in what will soon become WWII, Muggsy Spanier was already famous as musician and band leader, thus he appeared on V-Disc early, as early as V-Disc 81. But these first appearences were previously released Bluebird sides from 1939, like on my V-Disc 307.

It’s only late October 1944 (the 17th) that he finally entered the studio in New York to record for V-Disc. Four sides were recorded under his own name, from wich two are offered here. Except Pee-Wee Russel, the band is totaly different from the Ragtimers incarnation, with wich he recorded for Commodore throughout the year. The band has been made up for this recording session and then called V-Disc All-Stars.

Muggsy Spanier and his V-Disc All-Stars “Pat’s blues” (10/1944 – Mx VP975)
Muggsy Spanier and his V-Disc All-Stars “That’s A Plenty” (10/1944 – Mx VP971)

Almost exactly a year later (Oct. 22, 1945), he returned in the studio for his second and last session for V-Disc, with another made-up band, different from the V-Disc All-Stars, called V-Disc Jazz Band, but appearing as V-Disc Dixielanders on V-Disc 588 and 753. Five songs were recorded that day. You can hear him introducing the song on the following recording.

Muggsy Spanier and the V-Disc Dixielanders “You took advantage of me” (10/1945 – Mx D6TC6465-1C)

Spanier then played off and on, directed a band with Earl Hines between 1957 and 1959, toured Europe in the early 60’s, retired in 1964 due to health issues and died pretty early in 1967 at around only 65 years old.

Muggsy Spanier appeared twice on Lost Songs already: for his renditions of “Chicago” with his big band of 1942, and “Dippermouth Blues” from 1939, with his Ragtime Band.

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