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04 Dec 1904
Evergreen, Conecuh Co., Alabama
14 Jun 1980
New York, New York Co., New York





Herman Autrey

Blues Muscian




Herman Autrey


Autrey, Herman, trumpet, vocals, born Evergreen, AL, 4 December 1904; died New York, 14 June 1980. He had a very successful career for ten years from 1923 (with shows, dance bands, and his own group in Florida) and was working at Smalls' Paradise with Charlie Johnson's Orchestra in 1934 when Fats Waller came talent-spotting with his new Victor recording contract. he hired Autrey on the spot. From then on came five glorious years of "House Full" signs, record crowds, films, touring and recording sessions (often of unfamiliar material take care of in a take or two.) "Fats was awful good to me", remembers Autrey. "He treated me like a son!" Waller treated all of his men well; on one occasion he bought Autrey an expensive trumpet which he kept for over 30 years. Autrey regularly doubled with other bands while Fats appeared solo and after Waller died he worked with Stuff Smith, played up and down 52nd Street, and became well known as a bandleader himself in Canada. In 1954 he was badly hurt in a car crash, but came back triumphantly and in the 1960s played with the immensely successful Saints and Sinners, a neat swing band featuring Rudy Powell and the great Vic Dickenson; their records are a delight. In the 1970's Autrey was busy as ever in New York; but most listeners will remember him for the commanding, rough-edged and occasionally wild trumpet that enlivened so many Waller creations. [DF]; Fats Waller,vol. 6 (1930-5), RCA.


Another article out of "The New Grove Dictionary of JAZZ" Edited by Barry Kernfeld has the following information about Herman Autrey.


"He studied alto horn from 1913 but changed to trumpet in 1918. In 1923, he moved to Pittsburg, where he performed with local bands; he also toured extensively, mostly in the South, and temporarily worked as a bandleader in FL. After playing in Boston, he moved to Washington, then three years later, settled in Philadelphia, where he worked mainly with the bandleader, George "Doc" Hyder. Autrey was a forceful trumpeter who had an intense admiration for the work of Louis Armstrong; his engaging style of singing was reminiscent of Waller, with whom he shared an extraordinary appetite for life and a great sense of humor. His recordings with Waller demonstrate the extent to which he understood and reacted to a leader's requirements."



Bibliography: ChiltonW; FeatherE; Feather '60s; Feather-Gitler '70s

H. Panassie': "Herman Autrey", "JJ, viii/12 (1955) 1

A. Periany: "Herman Autrey," BHcF, no. 151 (1965), 3

G.W. Kay: "Herman Autrey Recalls the Early Days", JJ, xxii/10 (1969) 10

J. Simmen: "Herman Autrey, " BHcF, no. 331 (1985), 1; no. 332 (1985), 10; no. 333 (1985), 14; no. 334 (1986), 4; no. 335 (1986), 6; no. 336 (1968), 8; no. 337 (1986), 11; no. 338 (1986), 5; no. 339 (1986), 1.


Submitted by Sherry Johnston



1910 Conecuh County Census Information


Census Information for Nerman Autrey from the 1910 Conecuh Census for Evergreen Town. He is listed in the household of Mose AUTRIE, Head of Household, age 37, married 5 years to Mariah Autrie, age 37, married twice, has had six children, six still living. There are three stepsons and a stepdaughter listed ahead of Hermon, who is listed as 5 years old in 1910 and another son, listed as 2 months old.  From the census record, we would assume the first four children are Mariah's by a previous marriage, and Hermon/Herman Autrey is the son of Mose and Mariah Autrie/Autrey, as well as the youngest son: Doherty/Daughtery.


Submitted by Sherry Johnston