Bobby Hackett

Kevin Brawley, Contributor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

Bobby Hackett was born in Providence, RI in the year 1915. He was born during the beginning of the war. He was one of nine Hackett children. Hackett grew up in love with music, playing a number of different instruments over the year. He played his first instrument which was a ukulele at a young age. Then he progressed to play the guitar and the violin. He was not one for school seeing as he dropped out of high school after his freshman year. Instead of going to school he would perform with a band seven times a week at a chinese restaurant. When his music career really started to kick off was when he was recruited by the Herbie Marsh Orchestra, who played in upstate New York.  Bobby was a guitar player but another instrument he really enjoyed playing, and would play whenever he got the chance was an instrument called the cornet. The cornet is a brass instrument that looks like a trumpet but is shorter and wider. Bobby got the orchestra broken up because the manager told him to not pick up the cornet up again but he couldn’t resist and ended up picking up the cornet.


So the next summer Bobby worked in a tea room in Cape Cod, performing to the tea shop. Here he met a man by the name of Pee Wee Russell who recruited him to play in his band in the Cape. So Bobby spent most days playing at the Biltmore hotel in Providence to driving all the way to Cape Cod to play in Pee Wee’s band. Bobby was in love with music, music was his life and it treated him well. Though his music journey has just started, from there Bobby started a band with a man named Johnny Cranden who was a Harvard Medical student and a drummer. The two of them and four medical students and musicians became a band and called it the Harvard Gold Coast Orchestra. They would play at colleges all around Rhode Island on weekends.


Bobby kept hoping around finding work at places and switching up bands after just months of being with one band.  Later he went to New York and co-lead a band that became a favorite stop for local musicians. One of Bobby’s most important events was when he participated in the historical segment of Benny Goodman’s Carnegie Hall Concert performing “I’m Coming Virginia” in tribute to Bix Beiderbecke who had recorded the number in 1927 with Frankie Trumbauer’s Orchestra. The next day he recorded with the Frankie Trumbauer Orchestra. Bobby married his childhood sweetheart and settled down and worked with music his whole life.