Bobby Hackett

Robert Leo Hackett (January 31, 1915 – June 7, 1976) was an American jazz musician who played trumpet, cornet, and guitar with the bands of Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Hackett was a featured soloist on some of the Jackie Gleason mood music albums during the 1950s.[1]

Bobby Hackett
Bobby Hackett
Background information
Birth nameRobert Leo Hackett
Born(1915-01-13)January 13, 1915
Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.
DiedJune 7, 1976(1976-06-07) (aged 61)
Chatham, Massachusetts, U.S.
Years active1920s–1976
  • Storyville
  • Project 3
  • ADD
  • Classics
  • Segal Enterprises
  • DBK Jazz
  • Bluebird
Associated acts


Hackett was born in Providence, Rhode Island. He made his name as a follower of cornet player Bix Beiderbecke.[2] Benny Goodman hired him to recreate Bix's "I'm Coming Virginia" solo at his (Goodman's) 1938 Carnegie Hall concert. In the late 1930s Hackett played lead trumpet in the Vic Schoen Orchestra which backed the Andrews Sisters. Hackett can be heard on the soundtrack to the 1940 Fred Astaire movie Second Chorus.

In 1939 the talent agency MCA asked Hackett to form a big band with its backing. When the band failed, he was in substantial debt to MCA after it folded. He joined the bands of Horace Heidt and then Glenn Miller to pay this debt.[1] To make matters worse, his lip was in bad shape after dental surgery, making it difficult for him to play the trumpet or cornet. Glenn Miller offering him a job as a guitarist. "When I joined the band and I was making good money at last, [...] [jazz critics] accused me of selling out. Hell I wasn't selling out, I was selling in! It's funny, isn't it, how you go right into the wastebasket with some critics the minute you become successful."[3]

Despite lip problems, Hackett could play occasional, short solos, and he can be heard playing with the Glenn Miller Orchestra on "A String of Pearls".[4] A dream come true for Hackett was his inclusion in Louis Armstrong's 1947 Town Hall Jazz Concert.[1] In 1954, he appeared as a regular on the ABC variety show The Martha Wright Show, also known as The Packard Showroom.[5]

His fame increased after he was hired by Jackie Gleason as a cornet soloist for some of Gleason's earliest mood music albums.[1] Starting in 1952, he appeared on Gleason's first Capitol Records album, Music for Lovers Only. The record—as well as all of Gleason's next 10 albums—went gold. He appeared on six more of Gleason's albums. This association led directly to his signing with Capitol.

In 1965, he toured with singer Tony Bennett. In 1966 and 1967 he accompanied Bennett on two European tours. In the early 1970s, he performed separately with Dizzy Gillespie[6] and Teresa Brewer.

In 2012, Hackett was selected to be inducted into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame.

Personal life

Bobby Hackett married Edna Lillian Lee Hackett (d.2000) in 1937. The Hacketts lived primarily in New York City and spent summers in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, before moving to Chatham, Massachusetts in 1970. They had a daughter, Barbara (d. 2003); and a son, Ernie, who became a professional drummer.

Hackett was a Freemason and was active with St. Cecile Lodge #568, a lodge specifically for musicians and artists.[7][8] Hackett died in 1976 of a heart attack at the age of 61.


  • Trumpet Solos (1950, Brunswick)
  • Jazz Session (1950, Capitol)
  • In a Mellow Mood (1953, Capitol)
  • Soft Lights and Bobby Hackett (1954, Capitol)
  • Coast Concert (1955, Capitol)
  • Rendezvous (1956, Capitol)
  • Gotham Jazz Scene (1957, Capitol)
  • Don't Take Your Love from Me (1958, Capitol)
  • Jazz Ultimate (1958, Capitol) - with Jack Teagarden
  • At the Embers (1958, Capitol)
  • Blues with a Kick (1959, Capitol)
  • The Bobby Hackett Quartet (1959, Capitol)
  • Hawaii Swings (1959, Capitol)
  • Easy Beat (1960, Capitol)
  • Dream Awhile (1960, Columbia)
  • The Most Beautiful Horn in the World (1961, Columbia)
  • Night Love (1962, Columbia)
  • Jazz Impressions of Lionel Bart's "Oliver" (1963, Epic)
  • Plays the Music of Henry Mancini (1963, Epic)
  • Plays the Music of Bert Kaempfert (1964, Epic)
  • Hello, Louis! (1964, Epic)
  • Trumpets' Greatest Hits (1965, Epic)
  • Glenn Miller Time - 1965 (1965, Epic) - with the Glenn Miller Orchestra
  • A String of Pearls (1966, Epic)
  • The Swingin'est Gals in Town (1966, Epic)
  • Plays Tony Bennett's Greatest Hits (1966, Epic)
  • That Midnight Touch (1967, Project 3)
  • Creole Cookin' (1967, Verve)
  • A Time for Love (1968, Project 3)
  • Bobby / Billy / Brazil (1968, Verve) - with Billy Butterfield
  • This is My Bag (1968, Project 3) - with Vic Dickenson
  • Live at the Roosevelt Grill (1970, Chiaroscuro) - with Vic Dickenson
  • Strike Up the Band (Flying Dutchman, 1975) - with Zoot Sims and Bucky Pizzarelli

Additional discography

As leader

  • Thanks Bobby, Bobby Hackett Quartet (Dobre Records)

As sideman

With Glenn Miller

With Frank Sinatra

With Bill Kenny

With Tony Bennett

With Ruth Brown

With Jackie Gleason

  • Music for Lovers Only (Capitol, 1952)
  • Music to Make You Misty (Capitol, 1953)
  • Music, Martinis and Memories (Capitol, 1954)
  • Music to Remember Her (Capitol, 1955)
  • Music to Change Her Mind (Capitol, 1956)
  • Music for the Love Hours (Capitol, 1957)
  • That Moment (Capitol, 1959)

With George Wein

  • Wein, Women and Song and More, George Wein Plays and Sings (Arbors)


  1. Ciccolo, John (18 October 2000). "Bobby Hackett: Accomplished musician with a beautiful sound". Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  2. Weinstock, Len. "The Birth of the Cool 1927". Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  3. Simon, George T. (22 August 1980). Glenn Miller & His Orchestra. Da Capo Press. p. 271. ISBN 978-0-306-80129-7. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  4. "Hackett refers to this solo as 'just a little exercise'" – Glenn Miller and His Orchestra, 269.
  5. McNeil, Alex. Total Television. p. 639.
  6. "Bobby Hackett", Space Age Music Maker, Retrieved on July 29, 2011.
  7. Refsnes, Hege. "St. Cecile Lodge #568: the Lodge of the Arts". Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  8. "Craft Masonry in Manhattan, New York County, New York".

Further reading

  • Hulme, George and Whyatt, Bert. Bobby Hackett: His Life in Music, Hardinge Simpole, 2015. ISBN 9781843822226. 2016
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