Reference Entry

Lawson, Yank

Barry Kernfeld

in American National Biography Online

Published in print January 1999 |
Published online February 2000 | e-ISBN: 9780198606697 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/anb/9780198606697.article.1802809

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Lawson, Yank (03 May 1911–18 February 1995), jazz trumpeter and bandleader, was born John Rhea Lawson in Trenton, Missouri, the son of an engineer on the Rock Island Railroad. His parents’ names are unknown. His mother played piano and gave him lessons beginning at age five; he also took up saxophone at about age nine or ten. By one account, perhaps erroneous, his nickname came from boyhood comparisons of his playing to that of a local professional saxophonist, Yank Smith; Lawson told interviewer Phil Attebury that the nickname derived from boyhood teasing about his being a New York Yankee fan living in St. Louis Cardinals and Browns’ territory. In his early teens he took up cornet and then switched to trumpet, which he studied with Carl Webb....

Reference Entry.  1149 words. 

Subjects: Brass ; Blues ; Jazz ; Conducting

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