Sunday, November 11, 2007

Nov 12: The Firehouse Five Plus Two "Rocks" Disneyland

On this day in 1962, The Firehouse Five Plus Two, a Dixieland jazz band made up of Disney Studio employees and led by animator Ward Kimball, performed at Disneyland's Golden Horseshoe Saloon.
The roots of the group can be traced back to the 1940s when some of the Studio's employees would gather in Kimball's office at lunchtime to listen to jazz records. When it was discovered that many of Walt's animators & writers played musical instruments the idea of a band was born. The group at first consisted of Danny Alguire on cornet, Harper Goff on banjo, Ward Kimball on trombone, Clarke Mallery on clarinet, Monte Mountjoy on drums, Ed Penner on tuba, and Frank Thomas on piano. Originally known as the Huggajeedy Eight, the guys were asked to play parties and dances.
But when the band was asked by the local Horseless Carriage Club to play for its auto tour to San Diego, Kimball quickly found and restored a 1914 fire truck and with the group now uniformed as firemen, changed the name to the Firehouse Five Plus Two. (The "Plus Two" was added so that people who hired the group would know that they were getting seven musicians!) By May 1949 the band was recording its first album (thanks to a Paramount Studio film writer and jazz fan). Throughout the 1950s they played concerts, dances, weddings and even appeared on national TV programs! Eventually other Disney artists such as George Probert, Dick Roberts, Ralph Ball and George Bruns took part in the group as well.
The Firehouse Five Plus Two continued to perform and record their brand of fun and raucous Dixieland until the group's retirement in 1971.

Discover more November 12 Disney history HERE.

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