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Harry B. Grissinger/Merrymakers* Savanna

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Before December 1925, these young musicians were known by the name of “Hads Bunch.”  They also called themselves “The Melody Boys.”  But popularity amongst young dancers in this small northwestern Illinois town drove them to change their name to “The Merrymakers.”

 

Orchestra Leader Harry B. Grissinger of Savanna, Illinois, U.S.A. could play all the instruments of a dance band.   Born February 6, 1898 in Mount Carroll, Harry passed away from a heart attack in 1943 at the age of 45. Harry's son, Robert bad died on the U.S.S. Arizona during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  On December 27, 2000, another son of Harry, Paul Grissinger of Savanna remembered that his younger brother Robert, like his father , could play all the instruments well.  Paul said  the loss of Robert  was too much for his father.  Sideman Lute Geisinger, who also played many instruments, probably started his orchestra at about the time Harry died in 1943.

 

The Merrymakers Orchestra was jointly managed by Harry B. Grissinger and Lawrence Morse from December 1925 to sometime in the late 1930's when the orchestra became known as Harry B. Grissinger and Orchestra.  Several years earlier, Drummer/Vocalist Lawrence Morse played for The King Brothers Jazz Band in Savanna.  Also, today a music student is awarded a small stipend each year in memorial to Lawrence Morse.

 

Known Merrymakers Orchestra members were: Harry B. Grissinger, Lawrence Morse, Harry Gottis, Frank Greenleaf, Luther (Lute) Geisinger, Owen Sellers, Bud Riddle and Paul Melendy.

 

Known Harry B. Grissinger and Orchestra members were Harry B. Grissinger, Lawrence Morse, Lute Geisinger, Harry Gottis, Art Isenhart, Bob Smith, Frank Espisito, and again sometimes Paul Melendy and Bud Riddle.

 

Drummer Lawrence Morse was known for singing "Pretty Girls Are Like a Melody."  The Project is searching for a suitable version of this song.

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1926-Madsen Brothers Photo, courtesy of Paul Grissinger, son of Harry B. Grissinger. A December 1925 Savanna Journal article reported this popular music organization known as "HADS BUNCH or THE MELODY BOYS would now be known as THE MERRYMAKERS ORCHESTRA. From left to right are Harry B. Grissinger, Frank "Speedy" Greenleaf, Harry Gottis and Lawrence Morse.

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