Dexter, Jr., Dave E. "Dex"
reporter, promoter, producer
A Kansas City native, Dexter grew up in the northeast section, just a streetcar ride from the bustling entertainment district and numerous ballrooms in old "Kaycee." After graduation from high school, Dexter attended Missouri Valley College in Marshall, Missouri. While at Missouri Valley College, Dexter wrote sports news for The Kansas City Star. He also studied journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia while contributing articles to Billboard, Metronome and Down Beat.
In 1938, Dexter went to work for Down Beat in Chicago. Noted for his boundless energy, Dexter served as editor, writer, columnist, critic and record reviewer, often writing under various pseudonyms.
The six discs in the 10-inch album set, Kansas City Jazz, featured: Count Basie, Eddie Durham, Mary Lou Williams, Andy Kirk, Walter Page, Pete Johnson, Joe Turner, Buster Smith, Jimmy Rushing, Lester Young and a host of other musicians who defined Kansas City jazz.
Dexter himself contributed to the session as a songwriter -- co-composing "627 Stomp" with Pete Johnson .
Over the years, Dexter nurtured the careers of numerous Kansas City artists, prompting at least two of the city's favorite sons to pay tribute to him in song: Count Basie, with "Diggin' for Dex"
and Jay McShann with
In 1943, he moved to California where he joined newly-established Capitol Records. As an artists and repertoire director, Dexter helped build a stable of artists for the fledgling label. During his thirty-year tenure at Capitol, Dexter was responsible for signing Peggy Lee, Woody Herman, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, Stan Kenton, Nellie Lutcher, Kay Starr and Nat "King" Cole. As head of International Artists and Repertoire, Dexter signed the Beatles to Capitol Records.
Listen to Chuck Haddix's interview with Dexter about the Beatles.
After his retirement from Capitol in 1974, Dexter worked as a copy editor for Billboard. Dexter donated his correspondence, periodicals, books, sound recordings and photographs to the Miller Nichols Library at the University of Missouri - Kansas City in 1988. Much of the information, sound bytes and images featured in Club Kaycee is drawn from the Dexter Collection.
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