Born: October 25, 1902 | Died: March 26, 1933 Primary Instrument: Guitar
Eddie Lang was the first Jazz guitar virtuoso. A boyhood friend of Joe Venuti, Lang took violin lessons for 11 years but switched to guitar before he turned professional in 1924 with the Mound City Blue Blowers. He was soon in great demand for recording dates, both in the jazz world and in pop settings. His sophisticated European sounding chord patterns made him a unique accompanist, but he was also a fine soloist. He often played with violinist Venuti and with Red Nichols's Five Pennies , Frankie Trumbauer and Bix Beiderbecke (most memorably on the song Singin' the Blues). He played in many orchestras including Roger Wolfe Kahn Orchestra , Jean Goldkette and with Paul Whiteman (appearing on one short number with Venuti in Whiteman's 1930 film King Of Jazz). Lang was a versatile player who could back Blues singers, play Classical music, and jam with the greatest musicians of his day. He was the house guitarist at Okeh from 1926 to 1933. Using the pseudonym of Blind Willie Dunn, Lang often teamed up with Blues guitarist Lonnie Johnson. Eddie Lang led several dates of his own between 1927 and 1929, including an interesting session with King Oliver and Johnson, under the name of Blind Willie Dunn and his Gin Bottle Four. He worked regularly with Bing Crosby during the early 1930s and appears briefly with him in the film The Big Broadcast. Tragically his premature death was caused by a poorly performed operation, where he lost too much blood during a routine tonsillectomy. Bing was deeply disturbed by Lang's death, not only because he suddenly lost one of his best friends and most talented sidemen, but because he had personally urged Lang to have the operation.