The inscription: "To Jim Jr., (One of my favorite cornetists). With thanks and best wishes, Bobby Hackett"
Bobby Hackett was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1915. As a child, he played guitar, violin, and occasionally cornet. He left school at 14 to play his first steady gig on guitar at a local Chinese restaurant. His early career found him playing guitar and violin in hotel ballroom bands in Providence, Boston, and Syracuse. Then in 1933, he played cornet in a trio with Pee Wee Russell and Teddy Roy at the Crescent Club, Boston, and by 1936 he was specializing in the cornet.
In 1937, Bobby moved to New York and began working with "society" bands such as Lester and Howard Lanin, Meyer Davis, etc. He appeared with Horace Heidt, with Joe Marsala at the Hickory House and led his own band at Nick's and the Famous Door. He was a guest at Benny Goodman's 1938 Carnegie Hall concert. Beginning in 1937, Bobby recorded prolifically as a free-lance artist including sessions organized by Leonard Feather.
From 1941-2, Bobby was with Glenn Miller, doubling on cornet and guitar. His famous cornet solo can be heard on the Miller hit A String of Pearls. After this, he worked as a staff musician at NBC and ABC as well as leading his own band and appearances with Katherine Dunham and Glen Gray.
Then in 1956, he led his own band at the Henry Hudson Hotel in New York for about a year, afterwards returning to studio work. He was the Musical Director for the hit recordings made under Jackie Gleason's name in the 50's and 60's. After stints with Benny Goodman and Ray McKinley, he toured with Tony Bennett beginning in 1965. Up until his death in 1976, Bobby led his own small bands in New York and Hyannis as well as guesting at jazz festivals internationally.
The first time I met Hackett was in Dallas in 1946--I was about 5 years old. The next time, about 1960, Bobby was a guest with Garner Clark's band. I sat in for a couple of tunes. Bobby was already famous by this time because of the Jackie Gleason records.
In 1967, we made the Audiophile album Goose Pimples with Bobby and our band. He came down from Denver to do the date and afterward stayed in San Antonio for a week. I hung around him every day. The last time I saw him was about '75 or so when he appeared with us at the Galveston Opera House.
He was a very easy, gentle guy. I visited him at his house in Queens just after he had made that great record of duets with Billy Butterfield. I remember his coffee table in his living room entirely filled with cornet mouthpieces standing on end. He had a retail business in New York City for a while called "Bobby Hackett's Sound Stage" where he sold high-end stereo equipment. I went to visit him in his office—he had a really nice mahogany file cabinet. When he opened the drawer, I saw that the cabinet was filled with cornets--there were no files in there!
Visit the Bobby Hackett website.