COLLECTION FINDING AID
see also: A-Z list by name at right, below
SCOPE AND CONTENT OF COLLECTION
The Frank Driggs Jazz Oral Histories Collection was gifted by Driggs to the Marr Sound Archives in 2002. The 300+ oral histories, conducted from 1956 to 1986, capture the truths of the development of jazz as related by a host of musicians and band leaders who defined the tradition. All aspects of the jazz experience are captured in the interviews, ranging from musical triumphs to hardships on the road during the Great Depression. Reflecting Driggs' interest in the development of Southwestern and Kansas City jazz, the collection is rich in oral histories of the bandleaders and musicians who defined those traditions, including Andy Kirk, Buster Smith, Gene Ramey, Thamon Hayes, Jesse Stone and Ed Lewis. Many of the oral histories in the Driggs collection survive as the only known record of a musician’s experiences and voice.
A child of the Great Depression, author and music historian Frank Driggs first became enamored with jazz and swing while listening to late night broadcasts from hotels and ballrooms. After graduating from Princeton in 1952, Driggs moved to Manhattan where he joined with Marshall Stearns and other jazz scholars in documenting the history of jazz. Realizing the importance of preserving the eyewitness accounts of those who pioneered the jazz tradition, Driggs began recording oral histories of early jazz musicians. The musicians interviewed often gave or lent Driggs scrapbooks, photos and memorabilia, which he lovingly archived. Driggs was found dead of natural causes in his Manhattan home on September 20, 2011. He was 81.