Red McKenzie

William 'Red' McKenzie (October 14, 1899 – February 7, 1948) was an American jazz vocalist and musician who played a comb as an instrument. He played the comb-and-paper by placing paper, sometimes strips from the Evening World,[1] over the tines and blowing on it, producing a sound like a kazoo.[2]

Red McKenzie
Red McKenzie, c. October 1946
Red McKenzie, c. October 1946
Background information
Birth nameWilliam McKenzie
Born(1899-10-14)October 14, 1899
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
DiedFebruary 7, 1948(1948-02-07) (aged 48)
New York City
Years active1920s–1940s
Associated actsMound City Blue Blowers


In 1923 he started the Mound City Blue Blowers with Jack Bland and Dick Slevin and they were later joined by guitarist Eddie Lang. The quartet also used the name Red McKenzie and the Candy Kids. In 1929 the Blue Blowers recorded the songs "One Hour" and "Hello Lola" with Glenn Miller, Pee Wee Russell, and Coleman Hawkins. They also recorded with Bunny Berigan, Jimmy Dorsey, and Muggsy Spanier. McKenzie sang with the Paul Whiteman orchestra and in the 1930s led the Spirits of Rhythm and the Farley-Riley band.[2]

In 1931 he sang on "Time on My Hands, "Just Friends" (1931), and "I'm Sorry Dear" (1931).[3] McKenzie played in the Town Hall concerts of Eddie Condon but retired in the 1940s.[2]


  1. ^ Condon, Eddie (1956). We Called It Music. London: Jazz Book Club. p. 181.
  2. ^ a b c Yanow, Scott. "Red McKenzie". AllMusic. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  3. ^ "Red Mckenzie and his Orchestra". Retrieved 11 April 2020.


  • Roger D. Kinkle, The Complete Encyclopedia of Popular Music and Jazz, 1900–1950 (Arlington House Publishers, 1974)