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Goldkette, Jean (18 May 1893–24 March 1962), dance bandleader, businessman, and classical pianist, was born in Patras, Greece, the son of Angelina Goldkette, an actress. It is not known who Jean's father was. The Goldkette family was a troupe of entertainers that traveled throughout Europe and the Ottoman Empire. Angelina met and married John Poliakoff, a journalist, in Moscow in 1903. Raised in Greece and Russia, Jean studied classical piano from an early age, and he attended the Moscow Conservatory of Music. He moved to Chicago in 1910, when he was 17, to live with George Goldkette, an uncle. His mother and stepfather moved to the United States in 1919....

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Jean Goldkette. With his orchestra. Courtesy of the Red Hot Jazz Archive.

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Mills, Irving (16 January 1894–21 April 1985), singer, music publisher, and manager, was born in New York City, the son of working-class Russian Jewish immigrants whose names are unknown. He was educated in New York City public schools but did not attend college. He married Bessie (maiden name unknown) at the age of seventeen; they had five children....

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Wilburn, Virgil Doyle (07 July 1930–16 October 1982), country performer and businessman, was born in Hardy, Arkansas, the son of Benjamin Elijah “Pop” Wilburn, a disabled World War I veteran and farmer, and Katie Maple Zieger. Wilburn’s musical career began early when he joined older brothers Lester and Leslie, younger brother “Teddy,” and sister Vinita in a family band. The family’s farm provided little support and the father’s war injuries made it difficult for him to hold a steady job. In 1937 Pop Wilburn saw a neighbor’s family singing on the street in Hardy, Arkansas, and had the idea for the Wilburn Family band. With a mandolin, guitar, and fiddle ordered from a Sears Roebuck catalog the children practiced entertaining neighbors on a makeshift stage in their backyard....