George Lugg's surname establishes a universal connection with all musicians -- it is what they must do with their equipment, whether lugging it on tour or simply out to the garage for a jam session. In terms of what they are lugging, a trombonist could be said to be facing a light to medium difficulty level. While the instrument is certainly no drum set, it is still a lengthy proposition when disassembled and riding in its case. Speaking of which, it is this instrument case that is most clearly identified in the public's mind with hidden machine guns. This reference to the atmosphere of the Roaring Twenties is not out of place, since this was the era when Lugg came up as a young musician, blasting away in rowdy venues such as Chicago's Camel Gardens and on tour with Jules Alberti & His Tennesseans.
Lugg was born in the Windy City and was already a veteran of the First World War when faced with the working proposition of jazz and other dance bands fitting into the mobbed-up speakeasy environment as comfortably as the well-lubricated slide on a trombone. Thanks to the traveling demands of his profession, however, the decade was not simply wasted within spitting distance of Al Capone. Lugg joined a band led by Gene Jones, an enterprising Canadian, with opportunities to tour abroad not only among the jazz-friendly French but to Greece as well. In the late '20s Lugg was back in Chicago, mainly associated with Frank Snyder up until the mid '30s.
New Orleans jazz listeners most likely have located Lugg on sides by sizzling soprano saxophonist Sidney Bechet, or perhaps alongside hard-fisted pianist Art Hodes. The trombonist also performed and recorded with Bobby Hackett, Charlie Barnet, and Mezz Mezzrow, gigging in New York City in the latter leader's Disciples of Swing ensemble. As the ensuing decade commenced, Lugg continued to be associated with the Dixieland scene in New York City. His collaboration with Hodes included stints at a club called the Ole South in 1946 and repertoire of an anthropological nature. It was on his way from such a gig that he joined the short and sopping wet list of jazz musicians who have met an untimely fate due to drowning. Unlike Albert Ayler, the circumstances involving Lugg's drowning are not shrouded in mystery. The trombonist simply lost his way walking home in the dark, falling into a bay.