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Dude Hank
Born:  January 25, 1909
WIBW Kansas Roundup

Dude Hank they called him, but his real name was LeRoy Howard Carlson. He was married to a lady known as "Miss Maudie" on radio station WIBW in Topeka, Kansas.

How did he get his performing name? It seems a certain Mrs. William Butler suggested the name. She thought he was always dressed up like a "Dude" and "Hank" was a good name for a ranchhand-type personality. And later on, she would become his mother-in-law.

In an old article in WIBW Round-Up, Dude Hank explained how the trumpet became his musical instrument. He told a story of how he found an old beat up bugle in a storm cellar when he was about nine years old. But it had no mouthpiece. And it had three nail holes punched in its side. As we might expect, he drove the family a little nuts with what was described as "unearthly noises" until they finally gave him and bought him a real cornet one Christmas. He proceeded to learn from an instruction book and started to learn some standard tunes.

His first appearance in front of an audience was playing a solo number of O' Sole Mio before classmates and parents at a Halloween party at school. And it was almost his last. He said he got "cotton" mouth - not a sound came out of the cornet. But he was a kid, so he got over it by bobbing for apples afterwards.

He first played professionally with a group called the Pied Pipers who wore collegiate outfits as he described it - "loud striped blazer jackets and bow ties."

After that, he spent several years traveling with acting companies and road bands before landing a pit job in Los Angeles. In 1935, he joined Ted Fio Rito for a cross country tour. With that group, he got to play on the "Lady Esther" show on CBS and NBC, in a coast-to-coast hook-up at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago, and also making a recording for Brunswick records.

He got tired of the road warrior's life and made WIBW his 'home' so to speak. He became an arranger and musician for the station. He directed the band on such shows as the "Food Revue Program" 8:15 a.m. on Saturdays and the "Crossroad Sociable" 8:00 p.m. on Tuesdays. And like many members of the WIBW staff, appeared on the WIBW Kansas Round-Up show.

Dude Hank also wrote a few tunes that caught the attention of his audience. He wrote them he said at first for his own amusement, but he found the audience enjoyed them to. Tunes such as "Cry Baby Trumpet," "Corn-cob Schottische" and "Trumpet Has a Cold" were some of his original compositions.

Credits & Sources

  • WIBW Round-Up; November 1948; Published by WIBW Round-Up; Topeka, Kansas

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