#884 (2/25/17 - 3/3/17)

"I Got Rhythm"/"Rhythm"
by The Five Spirits Of Rhythm
on Brunswick 01715 A/B (England)
released in 1933

(Winnipeg Tribune 2/3/34) "The Five Spirits Of Rhythm, newest aggregation of unorthodox musicians discovered by the CBS. Notice the young man who plays nothing but two whiskbrooms on a suitcase. The Five Spirits have a regular schedule on the CBS network."

Above: The Five Spirits Of Rhythm (L-R) Wilbur Daniels (tenor, tipple), Teddy Bunn (baritone, guitar), Leo Watson (bass, tipple), Virgil Scroggins (tenor, whiskbrooms & suitcase), and Douglas Daniels (tenor, tipple).



The Five Spirits of Rhythm, radio's newest novelty musical troupe, swung into New York in the spring of 1933 after a sensational season in sunny Miami and immediately became the rage of a fashionable night club. They were recently signed to broadcast twice weekly over the WABC-Columbia network.

The quintet is composed of young men ranging from 20 to 23 years of age. Three of them play tipples (enlarged ukeleles, two of which have ten strings each and the other four). Another strums a guitar and the fifth enlivens the rhythm by swishing two whiskbrooms over the top of a suitcase. In addition, each of them sings, three being tenors, one a baritone and the fifth a bass.

By name they are Wilbur Daniels, 23, tenor, who plays a 10-string tipple; Douglas Daniels, 20, tenor, who plays a four-string tipple; Leo Watson, 21, bass, who plays the other 10-string tipple; Theodore Bunn, 22, baritone, who strums the guitar; and Virgil Scroggins, 21, tenor, who conjures rhythm with the whiskbrooms and suitcase. Wilbur and Douglas are brothers, and Virgil is their cousin. Each hails from St. Louis, Mo., except Theodore, who comes from Hempstead, Long Island.

Wilbur Daniels is the leading spirit in the group. He first began strumming a tipple in 1925, and within two years had taught his brother, Douglas, and Leo Watson to play the instrument; and they were joined by Virgil Scroggins, whose specialty was a flash dance. This quartet made its debut in a St. Louis night club, The Tent, in 1927, for a stipend of $20 per week each, and shortly afterwards went into vaudeville for three years with the Whitman Sisters.

During the latter part of this long engagement the quartet met Theodore Bunn, who then was appearing with another novelty organization. Not long afterwards Bunn joined the two Daniels brothers, Watson and Scroggins, and at that time they began to gain some bit of fame. Ben Bernie, the Old Maestro, took them under his wing and featured them in the famous College Inn, Chicago. They trouped with Duke Ellington's orchestra, then with Fletcher Henderson's orchestra, played throughout the South in Lou Holtz's second edition of the Hollywood Revue, and made their first invasion of Broadway in 1931. At that time they appeared at the Paramount, Roxy, Loew's State and Brooklyn Paramount theaters, attracting immense crowds in each case. After playing New York, they toured again and finally went to Florida.

Only within the last few months have the Five Spirits of Rhythm aspired to a radio career. In grooming themselves for it, Virgil Scroggins abandoned his dance and took to swishing the whiskbrooms over the suitcase. This, in addition to enhancing the rhythm, eliminates the monotony of the strings alone. After months of rehearsing, they were given an audition in the CBS studios in New York and immediately signed a radio contract. Simultaneously, they began making records, the first two of which are being released this month.

Above: The Spirits Of Rhythm at Kelly's Stable (New York City) in 1940. Marlowe Morris is at piano far left.

From Götz Alsmann (2/27/17): In 1940 a set-up of The Spirits of Rhythm with Teddy Bunn (guitar), Douglas Daniels (tipple), Hayes Alvis (bass) Marlowe Morris (piano) and Kaiser Marshall (drums), more or less the group in the above photo, accompanied Lionel Hampton for two instrumental recordings on Victor: "Martin On Every Block" (dedicated to deejay Martin Block) and "Pig Foot Sonata."

Later that year they played with Hampton on the radio as a trio with Teddy Bunn (guitar), Douglas Daniels (tipple) and his brother Wilbur (bass). A recording of two songs from this appearance was released on the cheapo Italian Joker label in the early 70s on the album "Great Swing Jam Sessions Vol. 2"... The tunes were "Tempo And Swing" and Lionel Hampton's signature tune "Flying Home." Teddy Bunn played parts of the arrangements on the Hampton recordings with an amplified guitar.

Above: A still shot from the 1941 movie "Sweetheart Of The Campus," in which The Four Spirits Of Rhythm are singing "Tom Tom The Elevator Boy." Leo Watson is second from left and Teddy Bunn is far right in the picture. The "Four Spirits of Rhythm" appeared in another movie "Alabamy Bound" (1941) and a short "Yes Indeed!" (1941). Watson also performed in the 1942 movie "Panama Hattie" as the drummer who flashes across the screen in front of Lena Horne and hams it up while she sings "The Sping." As the "Six Spirits of Rhythm," they appeared in the 1934 movie "Gambling," which was never released.

Listen to Tom Tom The Elevator Boy using Windows Media PLayer.

EXTRA AUDIO (Windows Media Player):

At Left: Columbia Demo Label TO.1335-1.

Listen to "I Got Rhythm" - The Five Cousins - Brunswick TO.1335-1 - Recorded 1933.

(The Five Cousins on the above side are the same group as The Five Spirits Of Rhythm.
This take of the song was not released. The "TO" stands for test only.

Listen to "My Old Man" - The Nephews - Brunswick 6728 - 1933.

Listen to "I'll Be Ready When That Great Day Comes" - The Nephews - Brunswick 6728 - 1933.

(The Nephews on the above sides are the same group as The Five Spirits Of Rhythm.)

Listen to "Shoutin' In The Amen Corner" - The Spirits Of Rhythm - Brunswick 02508 (England) - 1934.

(The Spirits Of Rhythm on the above side are the same group as The Five Spirits Of Rhythm,
except a sixth member, Wilson Myers [bass fiddle], was added. This song was not released in the USA.


Above: This is a reissue of both sides of Brunswick 01715 (England). It was released circa early 1935. Other American vocal groups released on Parlophone in England are The Three Keys (1932), The Boswell Sisters (1934), The Mills Brothers (1934), and The Dandridge Sisters (1939).

Above: Label image of Brunswick 01715 (England), which was released in 1933. Neither of these sides were issued in the USA. The matrix numbers (stamped in the "wax"//shown on the label) are B14095C//B.14095 and, for the flip side, B14359A//B.14359. These appear to be Brunswick USA matrix numbers. The Five Spirits Of Rhythm had at least three records released on Brunswick in England.

In the USA, this group had one record on Brunswick (1933), three on Decca (1934), and three on Black & White (1945). Two of the Decca's are backing Red McKenzie both vocally and instrumentally. The Black & White sides had a different line-up, with Teddy Bunn and Leo Watson as the only originals. As The Spirits Of Rhythm, they recorded six songs, including four with Ella Logan, for Columbia in 1941 that were not released. There were also a few songs recorded for Brunswick in 1933, as The Five Cousins, that were not released.

NOTE: Most discographical information provided at this website is from Ferdie Gonzalez' Disco-File.

Listen to this week's selections featuring The Five Spirits Of Rhythm on Brunswick 01715 from 1933:
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]

          1. I Got Rhythm
          2. Rhythm
          BOTH played in sequence

     B. Download RealAudio...
          1. I Got Rhythm
          2. Rhythm

     C. Stream/Download Media Player...
          1. I Got Rhythm
          2. Rhythm
          BOTH played in sequence

      [To download audio files, right-click on link and then select "Save (Link) Target As..."]