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Jack Keefe
Born:  January 1, 1885
Died:  October 14, 1954
WSM Grand Ole Opry
WSM Nashville, TN

About The Artist

He also appeared on the very first broadcast over WSM. It was termed a "Grand Jamboree" from Midnight to 2:00am.

He was a Nashville attorney and announcer / entertainer on the staff of WSM. He entertained the Shrine Club starting off doing his famous "Rooster Song" as well as "Willie the Weeper."

In 1928, as attorney and assistant director / announcer, he announced he was a candidate for state senator from Davidson County. He was a candidate in the seventeenth senatorial district. His platform stressed the problems of public health and proper treatment of the insane. He felt the criminally insane needed to be separated from others. Other points in his platform Included adapting criminal laws to modern needs, advocating for the extension of the boundary of Nashville, opposition to bonuses for members of the legislature.

He won the Democratic Party nomination in August and wrote a letter thanking the voters. He wrote, "I wish to extend to Mr. Cummins, Mr. Rutherford, and Mr. Davis my sincere appreciation of the high planes on which they conducted their campaigns."

He did later win the senate seat and announced his intent for re-election in the Democratic Party on August 7, 1930. At the time he was the Assistant City Attorney for Nashville.

As an entertainer, he was part of a group known as Tom, Joe and Jack-Tom Mooney, Joe Combs and Jack Keefe and known as the WSM Minstrels and worked with the WSM orchestra.

Benito Collada

John Edward (Jack) Keefe passed away suddenly in 1954. He was asked to play a few tunes at the Men's Club for the West End Methodist Church. He died shortly after finishing those selections. His obituary noted he was a widely known musician, educator, chemist and lawyer. He grew up in Boston and graduated Cum Laude from Harvard in 1908. He was appointed superintendent of schools in Pendleton, Oregon, he had a musical itch. Before leaving Pendleton, he organized the famous Pendleton Rodeo.

He took a leave of absence to tour with the Miller and Draper Production group. He never returned and moved to Nashville, He produced an Elks show and met his future wife Miss Elizabeth Rosalie Litterer. They married in 1915.

His next move was as a war-time chemist at the Bonaire Corporation in Wrigley, Tennessee. He then became a professor of bacteriology at Vanderbilt Medical School, assisting his brother-in-law Dr. William Litterer.

He became assistant city attorney via appointment by Mayor Hilary Howse. When the mayor died, Mr. Keefe ran for the office, but lost to Thomas L. Cummings.

In 1925, he worked with George Hay to inaugurate radio station WSM.

But through it all, music was a love he carried with him all his life. His law partner, Jack Norman, said "..(H)e could play any tune on the piano from a blues number to the classical operas. Mr. Keefe led the fullest life of any man in the world."

Credits and Sources

  • Jack Keefe Speaker at Shrine Club; September 15, 1926; The Nashville Banner; Nashville, TN
  • Jack Keefe Sets Forth Platform; July 18, 1928; The Nashville Banner; Nashville, TN
  • Minstrel Season Opens; October 28, 1928; The Nashville Banner; Nashville, TN
  • Senator Keefe To Seek Re-Election; June 8, 1930; The Nashville Banner; Nashville, TN
  • John E. Keefe Funeral Set For Saturday; October 15, 1954; The Nashville Banner; Nashville, TN
  • Jack Keefe Grateful For Senate Victory; August 12, 1928; The Tennessean; Nashville, TN
  • Jack Keefe Jr. Dies At Meeting; Attorney Musician Falls After Playing For Church Group; October 15, 1954; The Tennessean; Nashville, TN

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