LaBudde & Marr | Warren Durrett Collection
Related Cataloged Material
Related Collections By Name
Related Collections By Topic
Scope and Content of Collection
The Warren Durrett Collection was donated to the Miller Nichols Library at the University of Missouri-Kansas City by Janice Durrett, his widow. The manuscript collection is housed in the Dr. Kenneth J. LaBudde Department of Special Collections, while the sound recordings are held in the Marr Sound Archives.
Housed in LaBudde Special Collections, the collection contains 145 boxes and is divided into nine series, which includes correspondence, contracts, financial logbooks, miscellaneous, photographs, manuscript scores (Books I-XVI), manuscript scores (individual), published music and oversized material. The collection is strong in many areas, but the wealth of the collection is the music series, which contains over 200 titles composed and arranged by Warren Durrett and other various individuals.
Housed in Marr Sound Archives, the collection includes reel to reel tapes of performances beginning in 1958 through 1986. The collection also includes audio tapes and acetate discs of jingles produced by Durrett Productions in the late 50s and 60s.
Warren R. Durrett was born in Lebanon, KS, December 28, 1920, the youngest of seven children. His parents were Benjamin H. Durrett and Wilma Myers Durrett.
Durrett attended colleges at the University of Oklahoma and Maryville, MO, before graduating in 1951 from Kansas City University with a Bachelor of Arts degree. His schooling was self financed using earnings from playing in college dance bands. In 1945, he started his own band of ten pieces playing weekends at the Continental Hotel Sky Hy Roof at 11th and Baltimore. The band grew rapidly in popularity playing single-night private parties and dinner dances at hotels, country clubs, area colleges, and ballrooms like the Pla-Mor where they set an attendance record for a local band of 1200 admissions in one night. Durrett also expanded the size of the band which grew to 18 pieces by the 1960s and then occasionally to 25 pieces by adding six strings and two singers. During the last years of performance part of the schedule involved performing as the KJLA Music of Your Life Orchestra for ballroom dancing at the Adams Mark Hotel.
Durrett retired the big band when he reached the age of 65. The final performance was a public dance held at the Marriott Hotel in Overland Park sponsored by KJLA radio featuring his 25 piece orchestra. The event was sold out three weeks in advance and marked Durrett's 42nd year as a band leader. During the following 14 years he wrote a 312 page book entitled A Chronology of the Warren Durrett Big Band in Kansas City-1945-86 with pictures and discussions of band personnel and jobbing dates by decades. From 1949 to 1967 Warren operated Durrett Productions, a musical advertising company which composed and arranged music for advertising agencies for use in radio and television commercials throughout the Midwest.
In 1960 he started a career in real estate investment and land development. He formed and directed several syndicates and corporations in this field. He was a member of the National Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City and the Olathe Chamber of Commerce. He was a member of the Village Presbyterian Church where he sang in the choir for 16 years. In 1991 he was awarded the annual Distinguished Achievement award by Conservatory of Music of the University of Missouri at Kansas City.
Warren Durrett died Sunday, March 24, 2002.