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Classiscsonline Home » Composers » H » Haggart, Bob

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Bob Haggart (3/13/1914 - 12/02/1998)

Instrumentalist, Composer, Arranger

Bob Haggart played a number of instruments, among them trumpet, piano, and tuba, but he began his professional career on guitar which he studied with the great George Van Eps. Later he picked up the bass, taught himself, and was selected as Best Bassist of 1937 by Metronome magazine’s poll. He was one of the founding members of Bob Crosby’s Bobcats in 1935, and the arrangements he wrote are credited with giving the band its sound.

In 1938 the Bobcats introduced his instrumental called “I’m Free” which became the theme song of the Billy Butterfield Orchestra. The following year Johnny Burke added lyrics, and it became the poignant story of a chance meeting of former lovers, “What’s New”. It has been recorded by numerous vocalists and jazz instrumentalists and took on new life in 1983 when Linda Ronstadt introduced it to a new generation. Haggart also conceived two popular tunes with drummer Ray Bauduc, “South Rampart Street Parade” (1937) and “Big Noise from Winnetka” (1940). The latter was a show-stopping duet: Haggart whistled and plucked on the bass strings while Bauduc played on the strings near the bridge with his drum sticks to create a captivating melodic and rhythmic experience.


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