Pete Jacobs

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This obscure but snappy swing drummer spent not much more than a decade in the music business, retiring due to ill health in 1937 and living on only into the early '50s. His recording career took place…
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This obscure but snappy swing drummer spent not much more than a decade in the music business, retiring due to ill health in 1937 and living on only into the early '50s. His recording career took place mainly between 1932 and 1937, resulting in almost 20 recordings of classic jazz. Mostly he is associated with Claude Hopkins, a superb pianist whose attributes included a low-key melodic approach, consistent determination as a bandleader, and a spontaneous approach to performance and recording that, at times, offends control-freak jazz listeners.

Jacobs, not to be confused with a younger swing revival musician of the same name, came from the same home town as Bruce Springsteen, the New Jersey shore village of Asbury Park. It was not even 1900 yet when the drummer was born, however; rock & roll could not possibly have been on the minds of the Musical Aces, Jacobs' first professional band. He joined Hopkins in 1926 for the opening of what would be a series of stints. This one lasted two years, followed by a musical shoot with Charlie Skeet. Then it was back with Hopkins from 1930 until Jacobs laid down his drumsticks for good. The drummer can be seen onscreen in Barber Shop Blues, a short film from 1933 featuring the Hopkins band.