Jesse Crawford

Real Name:
Jesse Crawford
Profile:
American pianist and organist (December 2, 1895 Woodland, California – May 28, 1962 Los Angeles, California).

He was well-known in the 1920s as a theater organist for silent films and was a very popular gramophone record recording artist. In the 1930s, he switched to the Hammond organ and became a freelancer. In the 1940s, he authored instruction books on organ and taught organ lessons.

Early years
Crawford's father died when he was one year old and his impoverished mother placed the baby in an orphanage asylum near Woodland, California. He taught himself music at the orphanage, and by the age of nine he was playing a cornet in the orphanage band. At age 14 he left the orphanage to play piano in a small dance band, and then took a job playing piano in a ten-cent-admission silent film house.

His early theatre organ experience was at Washington's Spokane Gem Theater in 1911 and at the Clemmer-owned Casino Theatre (on an eight-rank Estey organ). He next played briefly at theatres in Billings, Montana, Spokane, Washington and Seattle. When he met Oliver Wallace, Crawford learned about the then-new types of theatre organ sounds. Crawford’s next jobs were playing at the Strand in San Francisco and the Mission Theatre in Los Angeles.

1920s: Silent movie organist
In the 1920s, he became well-known, and was dubbed the of "Poet of the Organ" for his style of playing ballads. In 1921, the Balaban and Katz theatre chain hired Crawford to Chicago to play its 29-rank Wurlitzer in the Chicago Theatre. Next, Crawford was hired as the organist at Grauman's Million Dollar Theatre in Los Angeles, playing a large Wurlitzer theatre organ.

From 1926 to 1933, he performed at New York City's Paramount Theater, with his wife Helen Crawford (also an organist) playing a twin organ console.

After some recordings for the small local Autograph Records label, Crawford made a series of records for the Victor Records label which proved very popular with record buyers. He had hits such as "Rose Marie", "Valencia" and "Russian Lullaby". Other popular songs included "At Dawning" and "Roses Of Picardy".

1930s: Hammond organist
With the end of the silent film era, work for theatre organists in movie houses dried up. Crawford played a Kilgen organ at Chicago's Century of Progress World's Fair in 1934, and in 1936 he got a job as staff organist in NBC studios in Chicago. In the 1930s, Crawford switched to the Hammond organ, and began playing engagements across the US. In addition to his numerous sound recordings, Crawford recorded player organ rolls on the Wurlitzer "R Rolls" system. His own compositions included "Vienna Violins", "Louisiana Nocturn", "Harlem Holiday", and "Hawaiian Honeymoon".

Teaching and instruction book author
In 1940, the self-taught Crawford undertook his first formal music study with Joseph Schillinger, whose other students included George Gershwin, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, and movie score composers Leith Stevens and Nathan Van Cleave. He recorded Hammond organ LPs for Decca Records and did sheet music arrangements for Hammond organ and instruction books. He also taught organ students, both in one-on-one lessons and in class style lessons, where he mostly lectured. He recorded his last two LPs on the Simonton Wurlitzer organ.
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Artist

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Albums

263 When The Organ Played At Twilight — Jesse Crawford Jesse Crawford When The Organ Played At Twilight (Album, EP) Decca 263 US 1941 Sell This Version
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A-327 Jean Hersholt, Jesse Crawford Jean Hersholt, Jesse Crawford - Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales(3xShellac, 10", Album) Decca A-327 US 1942 Sell This Version
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A-581 Christmas Songs — Jesse Crawford Dick Haymes And The Song Spinners With Jesse Crawford At The Organ* Dick Haymes And The Song Spinners With Jesse Crawford At The Organ* - Christmas Songs(3xShellac, 10", Album) Decca A-581 US 1947 Sell This Version
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A-548 Rudolf Friml Melodies — Jesse Crawford Jesse Crawford Rudolf Friml Melodies (Album, EP) Decca A-548 Canada 1947 Sell This Version
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DL 5077 Rock Of Ages — Jesse Crawford Jesse Crawford And Harry Breuer Jesse Crawford And Harry Breuer - Rock Of Ages (Album) Decca DL 5077 US 1949 Sell This Version
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DL 5058, DLP 5058 In A Monastery Garden — Jesse Crawford Jesse Crawford In A Monastery Garden (Album, EP) Decca, Decca DL 5058, DLP 5058 US 1949 Sell This Version
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DL 5364 Moonlight Sonata — Jesse Crawford Jesse Crawford Moonlight Sonata (Album, Single) Decca DL 5364 US 1951 Sell This Version
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9-293 Lead Kindly Light:  Hymns That Touch The Heart — Jesse Crawford Jesse Crawford Lead Kindly Light: Hymns That Touch The Heart (Album, EP) Decca 9-293 US 1952 Sell This Version
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DL 5402 Waltzes Of Vienna — Jesse Crawford Jesse Crawford Waltzes Of Vienna (Album) Decca DL 5402 US 1952 Sell This Version
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DL 5459 My Song Of Love — Jesse Crawford Jesse Crawford My Song Of Love (Album, EP) Decca DL 5459 US 1953 Sell This Version
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DL 5432 Popular Organ Favorites — Jesse Crawford Jesse Crawford Popular Organ Favorites(10") Decca DL 5432 US 1953 Sell This Version
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LAT 8039, LAT.8039 Love Themes By Tchaikovsky — Jesse Crawford Jesse Crawford Love Themes By Tchaikovsky (Album) Brunswick, Brunswick LAT 8039, LAT.8039 UK 1954 Sell This Version
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DL 5548 Popular Encores: Jesse Crawford At The Hammond Chord Organ — Jesse Crawford Jesse Crawford Popular Encores: Jesse Crawford At The Hammond Chord Organ(10") Decca DL 5548 US 1954 Sell This Version
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LAT 8064, LAT.8064 Remember - The Waltzes Of Irving Berlin — Jesse Crawford Jesse Crawford Remember - The Waltzes Of Irving Berlin Decca LAT 8064, LAT.8064 UK 1955 Sell This Version
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CAL 300 Pipe Organ Magic — Jesse Crawford Jesse Crawford Pipe Organ Magic (Album) RCA Camden CAL 300 US 1955 Sell This Version
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DL 8276 Among My Souvenirs — Jesse Crawford Jesse Crawford Among My Souvenirs (Album, EP) Decca, Decca DL 8276 US 1956 Sell This Version
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45-X-12 Christmas Carols With Jesse Crawford — Jesse Crawford Jesse Crawford Christmas Carols With Jesse Crawford Peter Pan Records 45-X-12 US 1955 Sell This Version
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DL 8470 Hits On The Hammond — Jesse Crawford Jesse Crawford Hits On The Hammond (Album) Decca DL 8470 US 1957 Sell This Version
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2069 The Organ & Chimes Of Christmas — Jesse Crawford Jesse Crawford And Botticelli Jesse Crawford And Botticelli - The Organ & Chimes Of Christmas (Album, EP) Design Records (2), Design Records (2) 2069 US 1957 Sell This Version
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2074 Deep Purple (The Organ Poetry Of Jesse Crawford) — Jesse Crawford Jesse Crawford Deep Purple (The Organ Poetry Of Jesse Crawford)(LP, Album, Mono) Promenade 2074 US 1957 Sell This Version
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DL 78649 An Enchanted Evening — Jesse Crawford Jesse Crawford An Enchanted Evening Decca DL 78649 US 1958 Sell This Version
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DL 8794 Christmas With Jesse Crawford — Jesse Crawford Jesse Crawford Christmas With Jesse Crawford (Album) Decca DL 8794 US 1958 Sell This Version
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DL 8750 Wedding Music — Jesse Crawford Jesse Crawford At The Pipe Organ* Wedding Music (Album) Decca DL 8750 Canada 1958 Sell This Version
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DL 8794 Christmas With Jesse Crawford — Jesse Crawford Jesse Crawford Christmas With Jesse Crawford(LP, Album, Mono, Smplr) Decca DL 8794 US 1958 Sell This Version
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DL 78861 The Song Is You / The Music Of Jerome Kern — Jesse Crawford Jesse Crawford The Song Is You / The Music Of Jerome Kern Decca DL 78861 US 1959 Sell This Version