Ed "Snoozer" Quinn

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This talented multi-instrumentalist on stringed instruments had a nickname that more than just hints at deep sleeping ability, a skill that would be seemingly easy to pick up if one worked as an accompanist…
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This talented multi-instrumentalist on stringed instruments had a nickname that more than just hints at deep sleeping ability, a skill that would be seemingly easy to pick up if one worked as an accompanist to Bing Crosby. Backing up a crooner is one of many contexts in which Ed "Snoozer" Quinn played instruments such as violin, banjo, mandolin, and guitar; sometimes, he also did the singing himself. According to historical accounts, which typically for the world of Southern pickers come off sounding like boasting, Quinn had mastered at least three of those instruments by the time he was seven years old.

At 19 he was a member of Peck Kelley's Bad Boys -- actions in the previous years, it can be assumed, justified his membership in such a tough-sounding crew. Quinn had led his own trio back in Bogalusa, MS, perhaps even before his voice had finished going through the changes. He began touring the countryside with the "Traveling Shows" of Paul English, from whom may have descended Willie Nelson's well-traveled drummer friend. Quinn spent time in Houston, but not so much that he couldn't be considered one of the Louisiana Ramblers on a Mexican tour. In the late '20s, Quinn gigged in San Antonio. Next he dragged all his instrument cases to New Orleans, unplugging his way into early jazz history through a nine-month membership in the Paul Whiteman band, with whom the young Crosby was a front-line vocalist.

During the '30s, Quinn's musical associates included Jimmy Davis, hillbilly singer and politician of "You Are My Sunshine" fame. Despite the obvious demand for Quinn's instrumental arsenal in the country genre, his allegiance was to New Orleans jazz, when he could play at all. His health became spotty, especially during the '40s -- although in the later years of that decade he appeared on the rebound, especially hitting high strides at a famous New Orleans National Jazz Foundation Concert during the spring of 1948. He then contracted tuberculosis and was hospitalized. His last recordings were actually done from a hospital bed with fellow senior performer Johnny Wiggs. Quinn may have died as early as 1949.