Artist Catalog

Turk Murphy

Born: December 16 1915
Born in: Palermo, California, U.S.



Turk Murphy

Melvin Edward Alton "Turk" Murphy (December 16, 1915 in Palermo, California – May 30, 1987 in San Francisco, California) was a trombonist and bandleader who played traditional and Dixieland jazz.

Murphy served in the Navy during World War II, during which he played and recorded with Lu Watters and Bunk Johnson. In 1952, he headed Turk Murphy's Jazz Band, which included pianist Wally Rose, clarinetist Bob Helm, banjoist Dick Lammi, and tubaist Bob Short. They played at the Italian Village at Columbus and Lombard in San Francisco's North Beach. The band appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show twice, in 1959 and 1965. In 1979 Bob Schulz began an eight-year stint with the band. Other notable band members included trumpeters Don Kinch and Leon Oakley; pianists Pete Clute and Ray Skjelbred; banjoist Carl Lunsford, tuba and trombonist Bill Carroll, singers Pat Yankee and Jimmy Stanislaw.

Murphy was the singer for the 1971 Sesame Street cartoon shorts, "The Alligator King" and "No. 9 Martian Beauty". They were animated and produced by his friend Bud Luckey. Murphy arranged and performed on many of Luckey's other Sesame Street animated shorts. He was friend of trombonist and Disney animator Ward Kimball, who created many memorable caricatures of Murphy and Charles Addams, creator of the Addams Family.

Murphy's band played his nightclub, Earthquake McGoons, which opened in 1960 and moved three times before closing in 1984. In January 1987, he played Carnegie Hall. He died on May 30, 1987.