Born: January 27, 1908 | Died: November 5, 1954 Primary Instrument: Trumpet
Known as a scorching soloist and powerful vocalist, Oran “Hot Lips” Page was one of the Midwest's top trumpet players.
Oran Thadeus Page was born in Dallas, Texas, on January 27, 1908. Page's mother, a schoolteacher and musician, taught him the basics of music when he was a child. By the age of twelve he could play the clarinet, saxophone, and trumpet. He joined a local youth band, led by drummer Lux Alexander, which played at local venues around Dallas. Page attended Corsicana High School and Texas College (in Tyler), and worked for a time in the oilfields.
He began his professional touring career when he joined Ma Rainey's band in the 1920s. Page traveled the Southwest with Rainey, Bessie Smith, Ida Cox and other touring acts. From 1928 to 1931 Page was a member of the Blue Devils; in 1932 he joined Bennie Moten’s orchestra, remaining until 1935. After Moten's death, he continued to work with Count Basie, who had taken over the orchestra. Page stayed on as a member of Count Basie’s original Reno Club band. The Reno Club, in downtown K.C., had a floorshow, which included Lips Page and Jimmy Rushing, and Basie's band was just starting to turn up the heat, but in 1936 - on the eve of Basie’s national success - Page decided to forge a solo career.
Page left after Louis Armstrong had caught him at the Reno and enthusiastically recommended him to his manager, Joe Glaser. Lips wanted Basie and the band to come with him as leader, but Basie declined, and Lips went off to seek his fame in New York. He never realized the success as a leader that he had enjoyed as a sideman.
While in New York, he worked at the Onyx Club in the spring of 1937 and in the Bedford Ballroom with the orchestra of Louis Metcalf. In 1938, he appeared in the Golden Gate Ballroom and the beginning of the ‘40’s, was with the big band of Bud Freeman.
He recorded as the Hot Lips Page Trio for Bluebird in 1940 before joining Artie Shaw where he worked from 1941- 1942. Starting in 1944 he recorded for Commodore and Savoy, fronting his own groups (Hot Lips Page Orchestra and Hot Lips Page Swing Seven).
In May 1949, Page traveled for the first time to Europe, where he played at the Jazz Festival in Paris. He visited Europe again in 1951 and 1952, to make a tour of Scandinavia and France. From 1952 until his health began to deteriorate in 1953, he worked various jazz shows around the United States.
In October 1954 Page suffered a heart attack. Seven days later, on November 5, he died of complications from pneumonia in New York City.