Coon-Sanders Original Nighthawk Orchestra was the first Kansas City jazz band to achieve national recognition, which it acquired through national radio broadcasts. It was founded in 1918, as the Coon-Sanders Novelty Orchestra, by drummer Carleton Coon and pianist Joe Sanders. They met around 1918 in a music store, and formed the band the same year. The orchestra began broadcasting in 1922 on a channel, which could be received throughout the United States. They took the name Nighthawks because they broadcast late at night (11:30pm to 1:00am). Their song “Nighthawk Blues” includes the lines: “Tune right in on the radio/Grab a telegram and say ‘Hello’.” The orchestra moved to Chicago in 1924. Their reputation spread coast-to-coast through these broadcasts and the many records they made for Victor Records. They also undertook successful road tours. In 1931, the orchestra moved to New York City, At the peak of the band’s success, the musicians owned identical Cord automobiles, each in a different color with the name of the Orchestra and the owner embossed on the rear. The Orchestra’s popularity showed no signs of abating, and their contract with MCA had another 15 years to run in the spring of 1932 when Carleton Coon came down with a jaw infection and he died that year. Sanders attempted to keep the organization going; however, without Coon, the public did not support them.

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