Charles Fulcher

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Charles Fulcher was an influential Atlanta bandleader, composer and instrumentalist whose talents in the latter category seem particularly breathtaking, not to mention taxing for anyone helping carry…
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Charles Fulcher was an influential Atlanta bandleader, composer and instrumentalist whose talents in the latter category seem particularly breathtaking, not to mention taxing for anyone helping carry his instruments around. He performed and recorded during the '20s on clarinet, trombone, piano and violin, indicating proficiency in four distinct musical families. Meanwhile he was also singing as well as telling everyone else in the group what do. Despite all this, from the '30s onward only someone wanting their piano tuned would have had a good reason to call him. The man who had created hits for Columbia such as "Black Cat Blues" must have considered the music business unlucky, managing to leave many biographical bloodhounds off the scent despite an apparent trail of tuned pianos.

Fulcher was associated with the Atlanta music scene, where the activities of his band were initially documented by the Okeh label during a series of 1923 field recordings. While Fulcher did not himself play piano on his recordings, he was supposedly extremely fussy about the instrument being in tune at these sessions, more so than the pianists or leaders of other groups picked by the recording label, no doubt a harbinger of his later tonal-tweaking career. According to some sidemen such as trumpeter Jack Cathcart, Fulcher's fussy nature extended well beyond intonation, making working in his band something less than a pleasure. Fulcher was himself responsible for many of the compositions he recorded and apparently his interest in writing and publishing was the one aspect of the music business that continued to interest him through the late '30s. He often found that recordings of his pieces by other performers did better than his own interpretations, a prime example being "My Pretty Girl," perhaps Fulcher's most famous composition but only a hit for Jean Goldkette.