Leroy Kirkland

Leroy E. Kirkland (February 10, 1904 or 1906 – April 6, 1988) was an American arranger, bandleader, guitarist and songwriter whose career spanned the eras of big band jazz, R&B, rock and roll and soul.

Born in Columbia, South Carolina, in either 1904 or 1906 (sources differ), Kirkland played guitar in southern jazz bands in the 1920s, and after a spell in the army worked as arranger and songwriter for Erskine Hawkins. He joined Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey in the 1940s, and in 1951 began arranging music at Savoy Records in New York. He continued to arrange R&B artists for OKeh Records, Mercury Records and other companies, and worked on rock and roll shows with Alan Freed. He also directed "My Favorite Song" for Ella Fitzgerald on Decca Records (Decca #9-28433). Two of his compositions became popular with jazz musicians: "Charleston Alley" (recorded by Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, Charlie Barnet, and others) and "Cloudburst" (recorded by Count Basie, The Pointer Sisters, and others).

Some of Kirkland's more successful collaborations were with Screamin' Jay Hawkins ("I Put a Spell on You, "Little Demon","Yellow Coat", etc.) and Big Maybelle (Kirkland co-wrote her biggest hit, "Gabbin' Blues"). In 1956, Kirkland and his session band teamed up with 14-year-old singer Barbie Gaye to record an R&B song, "My Boy Lollypop". When the song was covered eight years later by Jamaican artist Millie Small, the cover version became a worldwide hit. Later at Savoy Records, Kirkland worked with Nappy Brown and Wilbert Harrison. Although behind the scenes for most of his career, Kirkland contributed to the recordings of music legends such as Etta James, Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, The Righteous Brothers, The Supremes, Brook Benton and the Five Satins. His work on 1963's #1 hit "Our Day Will Come" by Ruby and the Romantics is among his most successful arrangements.

Kirkland died in New York City in 1988.

Birth and Death Data: Born February 10, 1906 (South Carolina), Died April 6, 1988 (New York City)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1941 - 1967

Roles Represented in DAHR: guitar, leader, arranger, composer

Recordings (Results 1-25 of 66 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor BS-058772 10-in. 1/7/1941 Charleston Alley Charlie Barnet Orchestra Jazz/dance band composer  
Victor BS-067727 10-in. 8/26/1941 Foo-gee Sunset Orchestra ; Julius Watson ; Doc Wheeler Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-067728 10-in. 8/26/1941 How 'bout that mess Sunset Orchestra ; Doc Wheeler Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-067729 10-in. 8/26/1941 Take a tip Sunset Orchestra ; Doc Wheeler Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, guitar, composer  
Victor BS-067730 10-in. 8/26/1941 Baby, I just want you Frohsine Stewart ; Sunset Orchestra ; Doc Wheeler Jazz/dance band, with vocal solo instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-068152 10-in. 11/6/1941 Gabby Sunset Orchestra ; Doc Wheeler Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-068166 10-in. 11/6/1941 Big and fat and forty-four Hardway Four ; Sunset Orchestra ; Doc Wheeler Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo and male vocal quartet instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-068167 10-in. 11/6/1941 Sarghum switch Sunset Orchestra ; Doc Wheeler Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-068168 10-in. 11/6/1941 Leave the rest to me Sunset Orchestra ; Doc Wheeler Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-073487 10-in. 3/30/1942 Who threw the whiskey in the well? Hardway Four ; Sunset Orchestra ; Doc Wheeler Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo and male vocal quartet instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-073488 10-in. 3/30/1942 Me and my Melinda James Otis Lewis ; Sunset Orchestra ; Doc Wheeler Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo arranger, instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-073490 10-in. 3/30/1942 Keep jumpin' Sunset Orchestra ; Doc Wheeler Jazz/dance band instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca 76827 9/11/1950 so long, goodbye blues Erskine Hawkins Orchestra instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca 76828 9/11/1950 Skippin' and hoppin' Erskine Hawkins Orchestra instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca 76829 9/11/1950 Down beat Erskine Hawkins Orchestra instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca 76830 9/11/1950 Tennessee waltz Erskine Hawkins Orchestra instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca 80262 12/6/1950 After hours-1 Erskine Hawkins Orchestra instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca 80263 12/6/1950 No regrets Erskine Hawkins Orchestra instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca 80264 12/6/1950 Tuxedo junction-2 Erskine Hawkins Orchestra instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca 80265 12/6/1950 Bear mash blues-3 Erskine Hawkins Orchestra instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca 80409 1/18/1951 Love never comes around Erskine Hawkins Orchestra instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca 80410 1/18/1951 Nona-1 Erskine Hawkins Orchestra instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca 80411 1/18/1951 Please don't put me down Erskine Hawkins Orchestra instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca 80412 1/18/1951 Station break Erskine Hawkins Orchestra instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca 82349 2/28/1952 Coffee Daddy blues Danny Taylor leader  
(Results 1-25 of 66 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Kirkland, Leroy," accessed January 23, 2022, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/205422.

Kirkland, Leroy. (2022). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved January 23, 2022, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/205422.

"Kirkland, Leroy." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2022. Web. 23 January 2022.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/205422

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