by Dale Jones
The Coon Sanders Nighthawks Orchestra was formed in 1919 and was at its peak between 1926 and 1932. The Orchestra was assembled by Carleton Coon and Joe Sanders in Kansas City. Coon was born in Rochester, Minnesota in 1893 and his family moved to Missouri shortly after his birth and eventually moved to Kansas City while he was an infant. Sanders was born in Kansas in 1896. Sanders was known as "The Old Left Hander" because of his skills at baseball. He gave the game up in the early '20s to make dance music his career.

The Orchestra was a pioneer in broadcasting their music over WDAF Radio from the Muehlbach Hotel at 1213 Wyandotte Street in Kansas City, Missouri. The broadcasts were in the early morning and the Nighthawks Club was formed for fans of the great music being broadcast. Fans were encouraged to send in requests for songs by letter, telephone or telegram. That move became so popular that Western Union set up a ticker tape between Sanders' piano and Coon's drums so the telegrams could be acknowledged during the broadcasts.

The group left Kansas City for the first time in 1924 for a three month engagement in a roadhouse in Chicago. They moved into the Blackhawk Hotel (139 North Wabash) in Chicago in 1926. The members of the Orchestra at that time were Joe Richolson and Bob Pope, trumpets; Rex Downing, trombone; Harold Thiell, Joe Thiell and Floyd Estep, saxophones; Joe Sanders, piano; Russ Stout, banjo and guitar; "Pop" Estep, tuba; Carelton Coon, drums. In the following years, the Nighthawks performed at the Blackhawk every winter, broadcasting over the powerful WGN Radio station. Their reputation spread from coast to coast through the broadcasts and the many records they made for Victor. They undertook very successful road tours.

At their peak, each member of the Orchestra owned identical Cord Automobiles, each in a different color with the name of the Orchestra and the owner embossed on the rear. The Orchestra's popularity showed no signs of abating and their contract with MCA had another 15 years to run in the spring of 1932 when disaster struck. Carelton Coon came down with a jaw infection and, on May 4, 1932, at 38 years of age, he passed away.

Joe Sanders attempted to keep the organization going, however, without Coon, the public did not support them. In 1935, he formed his own group and played until the early '40s when he became a part time orchestra leader and studio musician. In his later years he suffered from failing eyesight and other health problems. He passed away in 1965 after suffering a stroke.

The Kansas City Public Library acquired the great scrapbooks and other memorabilia collected and prepared by Joe Sanders and the information is available to researchers.

Some of their most popular hits were Wabash Blues, After You've Gone, Alone in the Rain, Alone at Last, and the ever popular, Here Comes My Ball And Chain.

The Coon Sanders Nighthawks Fans' Bash is held annually on the weekend following Mothers' Day in Huntington, West Virginia to remember the great contributions to music made by all the members of the Coon Sanders Nighthawks Orchestra and to play and enjoy the great music of the era. This event has been held annually for 39 years. Over the years, such musical notables as Curt Hitch, Bill Rank, Earl Roberts, Doc Ryker, Paul Oconnor, Mike Walbridge, Bob Neighbor, Frank Powers, Bob Lefever, Johnny Haynes, Jimmy and Carrie Mazzy, Moe Klippert, Clyde Austin, Nocky Parker and Fred Woodaman have attended and played at the event. The great trombonist, Spiegle Willcox attended regularly for many years, celebrating his 94th birthday at the event in 1997. The Bash for 2006 featured the Toll House Jazz Band from Columbus, Ohio and the West End Jazz Band from Chicago, Illinois. The Backyard Dixie Jazz Stompers and the 1937 Flood Jug Band, both from Huntington, also performed. The 40th Annual Bash for 2007 is scheduled for May 18th and 19th. The West End Jazz Band, the Toll House Jam Band from Central Ohio, the Backyard Dixie Jazz Stompers and the 1937 Flood are all scheduled to perform along with about 10 other invited musicians. In addition to performances by the featured groups, we will have mix and match sets with all the musicians participating. For more information about the event, or, to be placed on the mailing list, contact:

Dale Jones, President
Coon Sanders Nighthawks Fans' Bash
32 West 7th Avenue
Huntington, WV 25701
Phone (304) 633-5241
or contact the E-Mail address at Coonsander@msn.com.

Title Recording Date Recording Location Company
After You've Gone
(Henry Creamer / J. Turner Layton)
12-6-1929Chicago, IllinoisVictor
22342-B
Alone At Last
Vocal refrain by J.L. Sanders

(Gus Kahn / Ted Fiorito)
7-13-1925Camden, New JerseyVictor
19728-A
Alone In The Rain
(From Pathe picture "The Grand Parade")
Vocal refrain J.L. Sanders

(Edmund Goulding / Dan Dougherty)
12-6-1929Chicago, IllinoisVictor
22262-B
Blazin'
(Joe Sanders)
6-27-1928Chicago, IllinoisVictor
21680-B
Bless You Sister
(J. Russel Robinson / Al Dubin)
12-12-1928Chicago, IllinoisVictor
21895-B
Brainstorm
(Joe Sanders)
12-8-1926Chicago, IllinoisVictor
20390-B
Deep Henderson
(Fred Rose)
3-9-1926Chicago, IllinoisVictor
20081-A
Down Where The Sun Goes Down
Vocal refrain by Joe Sanders

(Isham Jones / Verne Buck)
6-29-1928Chicago, IllinoisVictor
21546-B
Dreaming Of To-morrow
Vocal refrain by C.A. Coon and J.L. Sanders

(Joe Sanders)
7-27-1925Camden, New JerseyVictor
19804-A
Everything Is Hotsy Totsy Now
Vocal refrain by J.L. Sanders

(Jimmy McHugh / Dorothy Fields / Irving Mills)
8-7-1925Camden, New JerseyVictor
19750-A
Everything's Gonna Be Alright
Vocal refrain by J.L. Sanders

(Benny Davis / Harry Akst)
3-9-1926Chicago, IllinoisVictor
20003-B
Flamin' Mamie
Vocal refrain by J.L. Sanders

(Fred Rose / Paul Whiteman)
12-21-1925Chicago, IllinoisVictor
19922-B
Gotta Great Big Date With A Little Bitty Girl
Vocal refrain by Joe Sanders

(Joe Sanders)
7-26-1929Chicago, IllinoisVictor
22123-A
Hallucinations
(Joe Sanders)
12-14-1927Kansas City, MissouriVictor
21397-A
Harlem Madness
(From Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer picture "They Learned About Women")
Vocal refrain by Joe Sanders

(Jack Yellen / Milton Ager)
11-18-1929Chicago, IllinoisVictor
22300-B
Here Comes My Ball and Chain (1)
(J. Fred Coots / Lou Davis)
11-27-1928Chicago, IllinoisVictor
21812-B
Here Comes My Ball and Chain (3)
Vocal refrain by J.L. Sanders

(J. Fred Coots / Lou Davis)
11-27-1928Chicago, IllinoisVictor
21812-B
High Fever
(Joe Sanders)
12-8-1926Chicago, IllinoisVictor
20461
Hong Kong Dream Girl
(George E. Springer / Harry Barris)
8-7-1925Camden, New JerseyVictor
19754-B
I Ain't Got Nobody
Vocal refrain by Carleton Coon - Joe Sanders

(Roger Graham / Spencer Williams)
12-25-1927Chicago, IllinoisVictor
20875-A
I Can't Realise
(You Love Me)

Vocal refrain by C.A. Coon and J.L. Sanders)
7-27-1925Camden, New JerseyVictor
19852-B
I Know You're Lying
(But I Love It!)

Vocal refrain by J.L. Sanders

(Dave Oppenheim / Sam H. Stept)
3-24-1932Chicago, IllinoisVictor
22969-B
(I'm Just Wild About Everything) And Especially You
Vocal refrain by Joe Sanders

(Abner Silver / Al Sherman / Al Lewis)
7-24-1929Chicago, IllinoisVictor
22077-A
Indian Cradle Song
Vocal refrain by C.A. Coon

(Mabel Wayne / Gus Kahn)
5-29-1928Chicago, IllinoisVictor
21562-A
I Need Lovin'
Vocal refrain by J.L. Sanders

(James P. Johnson / Henry Creamer)
12-17-1926Chicago, IllinoisVictor
20408-B
I Want To Go Home
Vocal refrain by Joe Sanders

(Joe Sanders)
3-24-1932Chicago, IllinoisVictor
22972-B
I'm Gonna Charleston Back To Charleston
Vocal refrain by C.A. Coon and J.L. Sanders

(Roy Turk / Lou Handman)
6-13-1925Camden, New JerseyVictor
19727-B
Is She My Girl Friend?
Vocal refrain by J.L. Sanders

(Jack Yellen / Milton Ager)
12-14-1927Kansas City, MissouriVictor
21148-B
Kansas City Kitty
Vocal refrain by J.L. Sanders

(Walter Donaldson / Edgar Leslie)
2-23-1929Chicago, IllinoisVictor
21939-A
Keepin' Out Of Mischief Now
Vocal refrain by J.L. Sanders

(Fats Waller / Andy Razaf)
3-24-1932Chicago, IllinoisVictor
22969-A
Lazy Waters
Vocal refrain by Carleton Coon

(Gus Kahn / Joe Sanders)
11-9-1924Chicago, IllinoisVictor
19522-B
Let That Be a Lesson To You
(Isham Jones)
3-9-1932Chicago, IllinoisVictor
22950-B
(Listen To The) Rhythm King
(Jo Trent / Joe Hoover)
12-12-1928Chicago, IllinoisVictor
21891-B
Little Orphan Annie
Vocal refrain by J.L. Sanders

(Joe Sanders)
12-3-1928Chicago, IllinoisVictor
21895-A
Lo and Behold 3-9-1932Chicago, IllinoisVictor
22951-B
Louder and Funnier
(Joe L. Sanders)
12-13-1927Kansas City, MissouriVictor
V-38083-A
Louise, You Tease 12-21-1925Chicago, IllinoisVictor
19958
Mine - All Mine
Vocal refrain by C.A. Coon and J.L. Sanders

(Ruby / Cowan / Stept)
12-13-1927Kansas City, MissouriVictor
21148-A
Mississippi, Here I Am
Vocal refrain by J.L. Sanders and C.A. Coon

(Arthur Sizemore / Bernie Grossman )
2-12-1929Chicago, IllinoisVictor
21891-A
Moanin' For You 11-18-1929Chicago, IllinoisVictor
22278
Moonlight and You
Vocal refrain by C.A. Coon and J.L. Sanders

(Sizemore / Russo / Alden)
11-9-1924Chicago, IllinoisVictor
19525-A
Moon Dear
(Klein)
12-21-1925Chicago, IllinoisVictor
19979
My Baby Knows How
Vocal refrain by J.L. Sanders

(Benny Davis / Harry Akst / Harry Richmond)
12-8-1926Chicago, IllinoisVictor
20390-A
My Daddy's Dream Time Lullaby
Vocal refrain by C.A. Coon and J.L. Sanders

(Lou Herscher / George Keefer)
4-7-1924Chicago, IllinoisVictor
19325-B
My Suppressed Desire
(From F.B.O. Picture, "Gang War")
Vocal refrain by Carleton Coon

(Cohen / Miller)
11-20-1928Chicago, IllinoisVictor
21803-A
Night Hawk Blues
Vocal refrain by C.A. Coon and J.L. Sanders

(Joe L. Sanders)
4-5-1924Chicago, IllinoisVictor
19316-A
Oh! You Have No Idea
Vocal refrain by C.A. Coon and J.L. Sanders

(Phil Ponce / Dan Dougherty)
5-29-1928Chicago, IllinoisVictor
21501-B
On Revival Day
(Andy Razaf)
3-24-1932Chicago, IllinoisVictor
22929
Oriental Love Dreams
Vocal refrain by C.A. Coon and J.L. Sanders

(Harry D. Kerr / Burnett / Miller)
4-6-1924Chicago, IllinoisVictor
19325-A
Ready For The River
Vocal refrain by J.L. Sanders

(Gus Kahn / Neil Moret)
5-29-1928Chicago, IllinoisVictor
21501-A
Red Hot Mama
Vocal refrain by C.A. Coon and J.L. Sanders

(G. Wells / Bud Cooper / Fred Rose)
4-6-1924Chicago, IllinoisVictor
19316-B
Roodles
(Joe Sanders)
12-25-1927Chicago, IllinoisVictor
20875-B
'Round My Heart
Vocal refrain by Joe Sanders

(Joe Young / Carmen Lombardo)
3-24-1932Chicago, IllinoisVictor
22972-A
Show Me The Way
Vocal refrain by Joe Sanders

(Ted Lewis / Frank Ross / Benny Davis )
11-16-1924Chicago, IllinoisVictor
19525-B
Sing a New Song
Vocal refrain by J.L. Sanders

(Ned Weaver / Milton Ager)
3-9-1932Chicago, IllinoisVictor
22951-A
Sittin' Around
Vocal refrain by C.A. Coon

(Joe Sanders / Gus Kahn)
3-9-1926Chicago, IllinoisVictor
20015-A
Sluefoot
Vocal refrain by C.A. Coon and J.L. Sanders

(Joe Sanders / Neil Moret)
12-13-1927Kansas City, MissouriVictor
21305-A
Smilin' Skies (1)
(Milton Samuels / Charley Straight / Walter Hirsch)
11-27-1928Chicago, IllinoisVictor
V-38083-B
Smilin' Skies (3)
(Milton Samuels / Charles T. Straight / Walter Hirsch)
11-27-1928Chicago, IllinoisVictor
unreleased
Some Little Bird
(Gillespie / McPhail / Van Alstyne)
3-21-1921Chicago, Illinois Columbia
A3403
Some Of These Days
Vocal refrain by C.A. Coon and J.L. Sanders

(Shelton Brooks)
11-13-1924Chicago, IllinoisVictor
19600-B
Stay Out Of The South!
(If You Want To Miss A Heaven On Earth)

Vocal refrain by C.A. Coon and J.L. Sanders

(Harold Dixon)
12-14-1927Kansas City, MissouriVictor
21358-B
Sweepin' The Clouds Away
(From the Paramount picture, "Paramount on Parade")
Vocal refrain by C.A. Coon and J.L. Sanders

(Sam Coslow)
12-6-1929Chicago, IllinoisVictor
22346-A
Tennessee Lazy
(Carleton Coon / Joe Sanders)
2-12-1929Chicago, IllinoisVictor
21939-B
That's All There Is
Vocal refrain by C.A. Coon

(Harry M. Woods)
8-7-1925Camden, New JerseyVictor
19750-B
The Darktown Strutters Ball
Vocal refrain by C.A. Coon

(Shelton Brooks)
12-12-1929Chicago, IllinoisVictor
22342-A
The Flippity Flop
(From the Paramount picture, "The Dance of Life")
Vocal refrain by Joe Sanders

(Sam Coslow / Leo Robin / Richard A. Whiting)
7-26-1929Chicago, IllinoisVictor
22089-B
The Wail
(Joe L. Sanders)
12-14-1927Kansas City, MissouriVictor
21305-B
There's No One Just Like You
Vocal refrain by C.A. Coon and J.L. Sanders

(Joe L. Sanders)
4-6-1924Chicago, IllinoisVictor
19357-A
Too Busy!
Vocal refrain by Carleton Coon

(Chester Cohn / Ned Miller)
6-27-1928Chicago, IllinoisVictor
21546-A
Wabash Blues
Vocal refrain by C.A. Coon and J.L. Sanders

(Dave Ringle / Fred Meinken)
12-13-1927Kansas City, MissouriVictor
LPV-511
We Love Us
Vocal refrain by Joe L. Sanders

(Joe L. Sanders / Lee Moore)
11-29-1929Chicago, Illinois Victor
22304-A
What a Girl! What a Night! (1)
(Joe Sanders)
11-20-1928Chicago, IllinoisVictor
unreleased
What a Girl! What a Night! (3)
Vocal refrain by Joe Sanders

(Joe Sanders)
11-20-1928Chicago, IllinoisVictor
21803-B
What a Life!
(Trying To Live Without You)

Vocal refrain by J.L. Sanders

(Charlotte Kent / Louis Alter)
3-9-1932Chicago, IllinoisVictor
22950-A
When You're Smiling
(Fisher / Goodwin / Shay)
1928Chicago, IllinoisVictor
Who Wouldn't Be Jealous Of You?
Vocal refrain by J.L. Sanders

(Larry Shay / Haven Gillespie / George Frommel)
11-27-1928Chicago, IllinoisVictor
21812-A
Who Wouldn't Love You? 8-7-1925Camden, New JerseyVictor
19754-A
Why Don't My Dreams Come True
Vocal refrain by C.A. Coon and J.L. Sanders

(John Flood / George E. Patton)
4-7-1924Chicago, IllinoisVictor
19357-B
Yes Sir, That's My Baby
(Gus Kahn / Walter Donaldson )
7-27-1925Camden, New Jersey Victor
19745-A
Artist Instrument
Dewey Birge Banjo, Guitar
Carelton Coon Drums, Vocals
Rex Downing Trombone
Eddie Edwards Tuba
Floyd Estep Saxophone
Pop Estep Tuba
Bill Haid Banjo
Clyde Hendrick Trumpet
Elmer Krebs Tuba
John Jarman Mellotron
Hal McLean Clarinet
Nick Mussolini Trombone
Carl Norberg Trombone
Bob Norfleet Trombone
Bob Pope Trumpet
Joe Richardson Trumpet
Joe Sanders Piano, Vocals
Harry Silverstone Violin
Russ Stout Banjo, Guitar
John Thiell Saxophone
Harold Thiell Saxophone
Joe Richolson Trumpet
The Coon-Sanders Nighthawks: "The Band That Made Radio Famous" by Fred W. Edmiston, McFarland & Company, 2003