Claude "Spud" Murphy

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The popularity of the nickname "Spud" in the music business is a no-brainer considering the intense comfort offered to touring musicians by the noble potato. Trombonist Claude "Spud" Murphy…
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The popularity of the nickname "Spud" in the music business is a no-brainer considering the intense comfort offered to touring musicians by the noble potato. Trombonist Claude "Spud" Murphy loved potatoes so much that he almost set fire to a theater in Endicott, NY, while trying to roast one backstage. He should not be confused with Lyle Stephanovic, an innovative multi-instrumentalist and arranger whose career began in the '20s and who used the stage name of Spud Murphy, as has a photographer active on the British rock scene in the '70s, a percussionist from years later, and an even an equipment technician.

The trombonist is best known for his association with the early-'40s Charlie Barnet band. This gig allowed Murphy to bake, as in musical slang terminology, alongside such famed jazzmen as clarinetist Buddy DeFranco, guitarist Barney Kessel, trumpeter Roy Eldridge, and pianist Dodo Marmarosa. Another approach to the Murphy discography is through the female singers who were featured in Barnet's band: the trombonist's brilliant ensemble sound can be heard on collections of early material by the great Lena Horne as well as compilations such as the 2004 Girl Singers of the Big Swing Bands. All told, Murphy took part in some 60 recording sessions between the mid-'30s and mid-'50s.