Quite a life!!
----- Forwarded by Dick Spottswood/dick/AmericanU on 06/02/2005 10:12 AM
"Lance Ledbetter" <[log in to unmask]>
06/02/2005 09:45 AM
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"Nick Marino" <[log in to unmask]>, "kip lornell" <[log in to unmask]>,
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Subject: Fw: Kasper Malone
KASPER "STRANGER" MALONE
1909 - 2005
We regret to inform all the friends and extended family of Kasper
"Stranger" Malone of his passing on May 30, 2005. Those who knew him will
smile when they hear that he left in typical Stranger style, in his sleep,
with the book "Life is Worth Living" open in his lap.
In 1912, when he was three years old, Kasper Malone's brother gave him a
beat up old cornet. By the time he was five, he was playing loud. The
cornet was the first of many instruments Kasper played in his ninety-five
years as a musician. Up until the moment of his death, he still actively
played clarinet, flute, double bass, and guitar with musicians all around
the country and the world.
His life is like a musical history of America. He played swing with the
Jack Teagarden All Stars and old time with Clayton McMichen, Riley
Puckett, Lowe Stokes & the Melody Men. He played in silent film orchestras
and radio bands, and he was on some of the first recordings ever made by
Columbia Records. He also played orchestral bass, and was first chair of
the Tucson Symphony for over ten years.
But Stranger Malone was more than a musician. He was a self educated,
worldly, open minded, kind, hard working ethical, and deeply spiritual
human. He was a voracious reader. He loved to travel and meet new people.
Even at 95, if you mentioned any song title, he could tell you, not only
the year it came out, but the month, the composer, the performers, and
some interesting anecdote about the song. He was gregarious and generous
to everyone he met. Yet he was also a very private person. And every
morning when he arose, he said to himself, "I am no better than anyone I
will meet today, and everyone I meet today is no better than I."
Kasper Malone was born in 1909 on a farm near Paducah Kentucky. His given
name was Kanoy, but he wasn't too pleased with that, so he changed it to
Kasper. As he puts it, "I was born before birth certificates, so I just
When he was fifteen, he sold his personal effects and left home. He was
picked up by two boys headed to Miami, but found Miami too expensive so he
headed back north. His ride stopped for gas in Armuchee Georgia and there
just happened to be a band tuning up. Kasper said, "I'll get off here."
Someone in the band saw him and asked, "Who's that little Stranger (he was
about 5 feet tall) with the big horn?" He joined the band and became
"Stranger" ever after.
He spent three years with that band, and in that time picked up the
clarinet, and began playing for silent film orchestras. During this
period, Kas hooked up with Clayton McMitchen and Riley Puckett and
together they formed the Melody Men. Until 1928 they made two recordings a
year with equipment sent down from New York City. Columbia Records set up
a studio in Atlanta at 15 Pryor Street. They also played at the radio
station WSB housed in the old Biltmore Hotel. With Gid Tanner they
recorded the record "A Day at the County Fair."
In 1929 on New Year's Day, he placed an ad in Billboard Magazine for a
clarinet player. A response came from Schnitz Seymour's Miniature Circus,
in St. Louis Missouri. Kas got the job, and became part of the entourage
that played at show theaters throughout the Midwest.
Kas was in the house band for many radio stations, and earned enough money
to pay $35 for a Model T, an open roadster with no top. On a windy day he
got in the roadster and drove to South Dakota arriving at 4:00 p.m. at the
local radio station. Happy Jack, the old time fiddler, was on the air and
Kas just happened to have his double bass in the car. "You're on the
payroll," he was told by Harvey Nelson the personnel manager. He became a
"doubler," playing clarinet and flute, and also creating sound effects
using chimes and other inventions.
While on that station, Kas was given his own show along with singer and
pianist Olive Nelson. The popular show was called "Olive and Stranger,"
and they played modern music. Kas also played with the Rosebud Kids, a
German family named Kosta, from the Rosebud Indian Reservation. "Five
dollars was pretty big and I got $10 for a dance on the side from the
radio station," says Kas.
In 1934 he got his San Francisco Musicians' Union card, sold his car, and
got a job playing on the cruise ship S.S. Cooledge which needed a bass
player. They played concert and dance music and for forty-seven days
travelled to Hawaii, Japan, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Manila. Upon his
return, he learned that someone needed a bass player on the boat to New
York City and so he boarded the Grace Line ship Santa Elena and headed
east. In New York, he stayed just long enough to find out that he
preferred the prairies to "conditions prevailing" and headed westward once
again, joining Jack Savage in Columbus Ohio in a band promoting Crazy
Water Crystals, a medicinal tonic from Mineral Wells, Texas. England
forebade commercial broadcasting, and so to sell the medicinal tonic
there, the company set up a store in London but advertised from
Luxembourg. Though Kasper was invited to join the band to travel to
Luxembourg (they stayed there 18 months), he had met his first wife
Virginia and with her, settled down in Yankton South Dakota and had two
In 1943 Kasper began a stint of 2 years and 12 days on Catalina Island in
the USS Maritime Service Band led by Phil Harris. After the war, times
were tough, so in addition to playing at a club near Glacier Park, Kas
also carried mail.
In 1953 he joined Jack Teagarden's Jazz Orchestra at the Royal Room on
Hollywood Boulevard. Kas and Jack became fast friends and Kas continued to
tour with him for three years, as well as living with Jack and his family.
With the Teagarden All Stars, Kas played string bass and was featured as
well on flute on such numbers as "Stardust," "Indian Summer," and "Body
and Soul." Kas and Jack discovered that they had a number of strange
"coincidences." Both had the same injured finger. Both had a brother named
Clois. Both bought a five dollar baritone horn when they were nine years
old. Both were given a baritone horn by an uncle when they were ten.
Feeling a yen to settle down, Kas accepted a job with the Tucson Symphony
and was hired on the staff of the University of Arizona. In the Symphony
he was Principal Bass, and at the university he taught bass for thirteen
years. During that time he also participated in the American Symphony
League Orchestra summer workshops, which became one of his most treasured
experiences. The one-hundred piece symphony included players from every
major orchestra around the United States and Europe and was led by master
conductor Dr. Richard Lehrt from Pasadena California.
As seen already, Kasper's life has included much travel. In 1969 he walked
around Ireland with a backpack and a flute. He found the Irish to be
exceedingly hospitable. "The Irish won't let you walk," he recounts. While
walking in Ireland he was picked up by a Catholic nun who took him right
away to play with her choir. After his Irish adventure, Kas got a Eurail
Pass and travelled around Europe using his music as a passport and an
introduction to adventure.
In 1973 Kas moved to Winsbach Germany where he was to marry his second
wife and spend the next twenty years. In Germany he taught privately with
the world famous Boys Choir and had private students in clarinet, flute,
In 1993 Kasper decided it was time to come back to the United States. He
returned to Rome Georgia, found it "ideal" and settled there in the middle
of town where he lived to the end of his life, just one city block from
where he played the Rivoli Theater in 1925.
Since returning to the United States, Kasper "Stranger" Malone never
slowed down his playing. From his first appearance on 78 RPM records for
Columbia in 1926, to his latest performance on EMWorld Records in 2003
with Elise Witt, Kaspar "Stranger" Malone's 77 year career in recording is
unchallenged for longevity. It is suspected that he will be entered in the
Guiness Book of World Records for the longest career in recording history.
The Georgia Music Hall of Fame recently presented "An Evening with
Stranger Malone" highlighting his long and diverse career in music.
Stranger also received the 2004 Founder's Award from the Country Music
Hall of Fame, and the Swannanoa Gathering is planning to award him a
Lifetime Achievement Award at this summer's gathering.