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Some interesting musical stories about Columbus...
Columbus, Ohio has an interesting musical history. Ohio itself had a strong impact on the developement of jazz, dance, and popular music.

  Take Eddie Mitchell, for instance ... Edward Harrison Mitchell was born in Franklin County in 1893. He passed away in 1959, but left a legacy of friends AND his record. When he was thirty, he went into the Gennett Studios and recorded two songs. Side A was "Pleasure Mad" by Sidney Bechet; side two was a tune by the then highly popular trumpet player, Louis Panico. Eddie was one of many violin playing leaders, but in Columbus he was the man. His was the house band at Olentangy Park. He was courted by Benson of Chicago Music Entertainment. In Columbus, he was known as JazzBo, and the world was his oyster. After his first orchestra, and problems in the depression and an auto accident, Eddie became a radio salesman, but always kept his hand in the music biz.

Eddie's daughter and other relatives still live nearby, in Grove City, Ohio


Walter "Pee Wee" Hunt was born in Mt. Healthy, Ohio but attended Old North High School in Columbus. He began playing banjo at 17, and played in area bands, including the house band at Olentangy Park. After he graduated from Ohio State, he attended the Cincinnati Conservatory. After graduation, and now playing banjo and trombone, 1927 found him playing for Jean Goldkette. Pee Wee was a founding member of the Casa Loma Orchestra, and stayed with them from 1929 to 1943. Pee Wee made many vocals with the Casa Loma band. He joined the Merchant Marine and then in 1946 he recorded the famous (or infamous, however your criticism fails you) the Twelfth Street Rag. Several Columbus musicians played in his touring band and recorded with him, including Dick Baars (trumpet) and Glenn Kimmel (drums.) Hunt continued to play and record until retirement in 1955. Pee Wee died in 1979.



CARL "BATTLEAXE" KENNY --When Paul Whiteman, who proudly (if erronesously) bore the title of "The King of Jazz," was asked by New York music critics to name the All-American band by selecting the best players of each individual instrument from across the nation, he pronounced Kenny "The World's Greatest Drummer." Battleaxe was born in Columbus around the turn of the century. At the age of 14 he joined Charlie Parker's band. He was nicknamed "Battleaxe" by local millionaire, Sam Esswein, owner of Samuel Esswein Plumbing, who was one of his biggest fans. Three years after he first began to play professionally, Battleaxe was hired to fill a featured spot in James Reese Europe's 45-piece orchestra, rated as the best in the country at that time. For 22 years, Battleaxe also found work in a number of Broadway productions, including Sissie and Blake's "Shuffle Along," "Chocolate Dandies," "Running Wild," "Liza," "Put & Take," and Lew Leslie's "Blackbirds." A quote from James P. Johnson: "Battleaxe worked tempos so fast with his foot that he played rolls on the bass drum." However, his most thrilling moment was when he competed in a citywide drummer's contest at the Winter Garden theatre and took home the gold medal (awarded to him by Vernon and Irene Castle) in a tie with the drummer from "Castles in the Air." In 1938, Battleaxe returned to Columbus due to his mother's ill health. To the end of his life, he wore his gold medal on his watch chain. Carl became a recluse and died alone in 1970. Columbus historian and drummer Tom Smith would like to remember Battleaxe with a gravestone for his unmarked grave in Evergreen Cemetery in Columbus.

    I would like to thank and credit Tom Smith and David Meyers for this information. Battleaxe has been inducted into the Columbus Senior Musicians Hall of Fame. The photo credit belongs to Byron Vickery. Battleaxe stands at the right. Noble Sissle is sitting.