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 10th, 1906 (South Carolina), Died April 6th, 1988 (New York City)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1950 - 1967

Roles Represented in DAHR: guitar, leader, arranger

Recordings (Results 1-25 of 54 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
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  
Decca 82350 2/28/1952 Come on home baby-1 Danny Taylor leader  
Decca 82351 2/28/1952 Moanin' and groanin' for you Danny Taylor leader  
Decca 82352 2/28/1952 Blues got me rockin' Danny Taylor leader  
Decca 82357 2/28/1952 Midnight sun Morris Lane instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca 82358 2/28/1952 Pale moon Morris Lane instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca 82359 2/28/1952 Moon ray Morris Lane instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca 82360 2/28/1952 I don't want to set the world on fire Morris Lane instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca 82976 6/19/1952 Sweet lovin' Daddy Danny Taylor leader  
Decca 82977 6/19/1952 Walkin' in my sleep Danny Taylor leader  
Decca 82978 6/19/1952 Sittin' here thinkin' Danny Taylor leader  
Decca 82979 6/19/1952 I've been doin' it too Danny Taylor leader  
Decca 86340 6/1/1954 Exactly like you The Barons leader  
(Results 1-25 of 54 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Kirkland, Leroy," accessed March 6, 2021, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/205422.

Kirkland, Leroy. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved March 6, 2021, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/205422.

"Kirkland, Leroy." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 6 March 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

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

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