vital stats:
given name   Boguslaw Albert Zukowski
birth   Jan. 17, 1912, Detroit, MI
death   Feb. 16, 1944, Los Angeles, CA, "pneumonia, complicated by acute alcoholic
heritage   Polish
son   Robert Jr.
daughter   Mary Ann

    In 1939, Zurke and his band played a successul summer season in St. Louis, but evidently their itinerary from then on was made up of one-night stands.
    His band officially broke up in the spring of 1941, and he spent the last few years of his life working as a single at the Hanover Club on Vine St. in Los Angeles.
    Upon his passing, Zurke's body was sent back to his hometown, where he was buried.
    A 1955 LP, "Tom Cat On the Keys" (RCA Victor LJM-1013), was the first to collect a sampling of his band's recordings.
    Among Zurke's compositions were the tunes Southern Exposure, Hobson Street Blues, Tomcat On the Keys, Nickel Nabber Blues, Big Foot Jump and Eye Opener.

"Bob Zurke [ obituary ]," New York Times, Feb. 18, 1944.
Leonard Feather, The Encyclopedia of Jazz (New York City: Horizon Press, 1955), p.473.
Pat Hawes, Liner Notes to "Bob Zurke: Honky Tonk Train Blues" (Hep CD 1076),
    May 2001.
"Obituary: Bob Zurke," Los Angeles Times, Feb. 19, 1944, p.A7.
Phil Pitt, "Bob Zurke," Jazz Journal International, Feb. 1969, pp.6-7.

    I would like to expand this tribute, if possible, with a new interview of someone who was important to Bob Zurke's life and career.  Are you an alumnus of his band, a member of his family, or a collector who is knowledgeable about his accomplishments?  Please contact me via e-mail

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    He joined Bob Crosby's group on piano in December 1936 and soon became a favorite of jazz and boogie-woogie fans. 
    With the financial support of The William Morris Agency, Zurke formed his own 14-piece orchestra, billed as "The Delta Rhythm Band," in April 1939.
    But in spite of winning the Down Beat poll on piano that year and being signed to Victor Records, he found little fame as a big band leader.    
Bob Zurke on-stage at the Paramount Theater, New York City, late 1939.