Leroy Kirkland

Bandleader, Musical Artist

1906 – 1988


Who was Leroy Kirkland?

Leroy Kirkland, was an arranger, bandleader, guitarist and songwriter whose career spanned the eras of big band jazz, R&B, rock and roll and soul. Kirkland played guitar in southern jazz bands in the 1920s, and during the 1930s he worked as arranger and songwriter for Erskine Hawkins. He joined Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey in the 1940s and later in that decade began arranging music at Savoy Records in New York. He continued to arrange R&B artists for OKeh Records, Mercury Records and other companies.

Some of Kirklands more successful collaborations were with Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Big Maybelle. In 1956, Kirkland and his session band teamed up with 14-year-old singer Barbie Gaye to record an R&B song, "My Boy Lollipop" Kirkland's arrangement of the song resulted in a sound that was new and original, Years later, that style would become known as ska, and would influence other genres such as bliebeat, rocksteady and most popularly, reggae.

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Feb 10, 1906
Apr 6, 1988

on July 23, 2013


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