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The Story Is Told

Jack Teagarden - Cowboy

Jack Teagarden was in his late teens when in the early 1920s he played for a small band led by 'Doc' Ross, a former farmer with a love of drumming. Ross's Jazz Bandits were a popular band around Texas. After playing with various other bands, Jack re-joined Doc Ross for a tour that took them to Los Angeles where Fred Solomon of Solomon's Penny Dance Deluxe booked them as a third band at the establishment.

Solomon named them Ranger Ross and his Cowboys. In his book Jack Teagarden: The Story Of A Jazz Maverick,  Jay D Smith writes: 'Solomon nourished Barnum-like ambitions and had already promoted a series of dance marathons. Upon the musicians' arrival he hustled them over to Santa Monica where he dressed them in the gaudiest cowboy outfits he could rent


... At the station they were met by an enthusiastic crowd and a detachment of mounted policemen. With a true showman's brashness Solomon hauled the officers off their steeds and ordered the Cowboys to mount ...'

'The horses trotted placidly enough until the procession reached 5th and Maine where the over-elated Solomon insisted they form a circle and strike up the band. Gingerly the musicians raised their instruments. They began California, Here I Come. At the first wavering blast each of the nine horses reared. Teagarden dropped his horn and flung his arms around the animal's neck ... Ranger Ross's men reformed on foot and marched the rest of the way to the Dance Deluxe.'

[There is a comprehensive and interesting 2 hour documentary on YouTube telling the story Weldon 'Jack' Teagarden here that will be of interest to readers. Listen out for the description of Jack's solo on She's A Great, Great Girl at 20.57 minutes in.]

Solomon's Penny Dance DeLuxe

"The Ninth Wonder of the World"

"Where you get a Dollars worth for a Dime"

"The largest Manufacturers and Distributers of 'Pleasure on Earth"

Information about Fred Soloman seems to be limited online. The Valley Relics Museum Facebook page gives us some history of the entrepreneur:

"Off of Topanga there’s a steep and winding road that leads to a historical 24-acre ranch built in 1909 by Fred Solomon. Fred was the self-proclaimed “Penny Dancehall King” and along with his crew of musicians, threw big parties has his infamous property: Solomon House.

Fred’s dancehalls were renowned in Los Angeles, the most famous one being “Solomon’s Penny Dance Hall” at South Grand and 9th Street. Later the name changed to “Vogue Ballroom” and in the 30’s and 40’s it served as a venue for big bands.

Fred’s Saturday night Topanga parties were legendary. The old house or hunting lodge, featured a spring-fed swimming pool. Famous booze parties and charity events were held such as Christmas dinners for poor newsboys and 4th of July parties for orphans. He also made whiskey during Prohibition and it is rumored that there was a brothel on his property.

It was the height of the nation’s dance craze and amid all this, Fred held court at every party. In the 30’s and 40’s, the Big Bands entered the scene and Fred was the driving force behind much of the entertainment in Los Angeles."

The University of California also has this picture of Fred Solomon's Penny Dance Band, but there are no names given for the musicians:

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