given name John? Long
birth Sept. 12, 1914, Newell, NC
death Oct. 31, 1972, Parkersburg, WV, "an apparent heart attack"
father Curtis Whiteford Long
mother Connie Gardner Long
education graduate, Central High School, Newell, NC, 1931; B.A., Duke University, Durham,
NC, 1935; graduate, Marshall University, Huntington, WV, degree in English and Library
Science, spring 1971
wife Patricia Power-Waters, m.Apr. 14, 1943
physical description blue eyes, brown hair, weight 140 lbs., 5'10-1/2" in height [ 1951 ]
memberships Sigma Nu Fraternity; Local 500, American Federation of Musicians, Raleigh,
NC; the Players Club of New York City
hobbies golf, tennis, riding, collecting records
residence 38-24 213th St., Bayside, Long Island, NY [ 1951 ]
Around 1931, a group of 11 freshmen at Duke University in Durham, NC had organized a band, "The Duke Collegians." He became their leader during his sophomore year and they steadily improved. In 1935, they decided to hit the road as a unit under Long's name and compete with established, professional groups.
Among the band members in those early days were Jack Edmondson (trumpeter and vocalist), Ed Butner (trombonist and arranger), and Paul Harmon (tenor saxophonist and vocalist).
They made a few records for the Rightman and ARC/Vocalion labels in 1937-38, including Just Like That, which Long composed.
Other instrumentalists included, at various times, tenor saxophonist Ted Nash and pianist-arranger Junie Mays. Bob Houston joined the group as its male vocalist in 1940, staying for two years.
But real success didn't occur until September 12, 1940, when, signed to Decca, the band recorded In a Shanty in Old Shanty Town, arranged by Bill Moore. It gave Long and his band their biggest momentum and eventually sold a million copies.
Out of a total of some 125 sides for Decca between 1940 and 1946, other popular selections recorded by Long included My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time, Time Waits for No One, Blue Skies, Candy, Waitin' for the Train to Come In, When I Grow Too Old to Dream, and No Love, No Nothin'.
From 1946 to 1955, he and his band cut additional titles for, variously, Signature, King, Mercury, and Coral, including a couple re-makes of Shanty Town along the way.
His final recordings were LPs: "Saturday Night Dance Date" (Tops L1575, 1958), "Let's Dance with Johnny Long and His Orchestra" (Forum SF-9050, 1959), and "Johnny Long's Golden Hits" (Everest SD 1201, 1960).
Throughout the years, Long and his band played for appreciative dancers across the U.S., particularly at college and university proms. They also appeared at such venues as the Hotel New Yorker in New York City; the Metronome Room of the Wardman Park Hotel and the Blue Room of the Shoreham in Washington, DC; the Meadowbrook in Cedar Grove, NJ; and the O'Henry Ballroom and Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago.
He continued to lead a band into the early 1970s, marking his 15th summer at the Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach, VA in 1972, and moving on to an engagement at the Claridge Hotel in Memphis, TN following that.
One of the most admirable accomplishments of his life didn't occur until he was in his late 50s, when he graduated from Marshall University in Huntington, WV with a degree in English and library science.
However, not much more than a year afterwards, following a bout with pneumonia he suffered an apparent heart attack - and everything stopped, just like that.
All Time Million Seller Recordings, ca.1964.
Charles Garrod and Bill Korst, Johnny Long and His Orchestra (Zephyrhills, FL: Joyce
Music Publications, 1984).
Jean R. Hailey, "Bandleader Johnny Long Dies at 58," Washington [ DC ] Post, Times
Herald, Nov. 3, 1972, p.C10.
Roger D. Kinkle, The Complete Encyclopedia of Popular Music and Jazz 1900-1950:
Volume 3 Biographies L Through Z (New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House Publishers,
"Long, Johnny," in Who Is Who in Music (Chicago, IL: Who Is Who in Music, Ltd., 1951),
OCLC WorldCat database.
Joel Whitburn, "Johnny Long," in Pop Memories 1890-1954: The History of American
Popular Music (Menomonee Falls, WI: Record Research, Inc., 1986), pp.281-282.
I would like to expand this tribute with, if possible, a new interview of someone who was important to Johnny Long's life or 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