"Mr. San Francisco," Murphy's Earthquake McGoon's club was a major tourist attraction for decades."
Turk Murphy on the occasion of his appearance at Carnegie Hall, Photo by Frank Selman
I would award Turk Murphy the title of “Mr. San Francisco.” He probably shook the hands of more tourists than any other San Francisco celebrity. Visitors flocked to his Earthquake McGoon’s club to dance, have their favorite Murphy album autographed, or listen to his unique rendition of Traditional Jazz, redolent of Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver and the Barbary Coast of a half century earlier.
Turk’s band was entirely his own creation; it manifested his musical vision in the way Morton’s Red Hot Peppers reflected Jelly Roll’s. Murphy built a vast and original repertoire: interpreting or rescuing from obscurity hundreds of early jazz or blues tunes, ballads, novelties, Tin Pan Alley, and ragtime compositions. And he wrote quite a few good songs himself.
Murphy had a clear and definite conception of the music he wanted to present and was faithful to that idea for nearly a half century. He had one of the few classic jazz bands on the West Coast that sustained steady work five or more nights a week for decades, though many capable musicians who worked for him later called it “a strange experience.”
Earthquake McGoon's at 630 Clay Street, one of several locations for the nightclub
Turk Murphy Jazz Band Live at Cinegrill, Hollywood-Roosevelt Hotel, 1950 In LA, booked as “Turk Murphy and the Circus Jazz Band” to compete with the popular Firehouse Five, their book heavily featured the “Dixieland Top 40.” They broadcast for a while on KABC, the original source of this audio. As you can hear the band was in top form and Murphy tore into rare song verses with gusto.
Subsequent travels took the band on to jobs at the Aragon Ballroom in San Diego, and Las Vegas. Turk Murphy (trombone) Don Kinch (trumpet) Bill Napier (clarinet) Skippy Anderson (piano) Pat Patton (banjo) Stan Ward (drums)