Steel Trappings

On the Playlist

On the Playlist: Eddie Bush

March 1, 2023 • Geronimo "Geri" ValdrizSteel Guitar History

"HAWAIIAN STEEL" is a weekly radio program that spotlights the Hawaiian steel guitar masters from the past to the present. "ON THE PLAYLIST" features the musicians heard on the program's playlist. This month we feature steel guitarist Eddie Bush!

Eddie Bush was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1911 to Hawaiian parents who were musical entertainers. They were performers on the Hawaiian Stage at the New York World's Fair. Eddie is one of five children. Growing up, Eddie performed with his parents as part of their Hawaiian band.

The family moved to Los Angeles in 1924 and at age 15 Eddie formed a Hawaiian musical trio with two friends, Bill Seckler and Paul Gibbons. Their youthful ambition was contagious and their three part vocal harmony was pure. By 1927 the trio was playing locally and decided to audition with bandleader Earl Burnett.

Eddie Bush

Burnett was impressed and hired the trio to be a part of his band's regular gig at the Biltmore Hotel. With Eddie on a wooden acoustic steel guitar and falsetto vocal, Paul on lead vocals and guitar, and Bill on vocal and ukulele, they quickly became a major attraction in Los Angeles.

In 1928 Eddie, Paul and Bill made their first recording for the Okeh label under the name the Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel Trio. The songs included falsetto and vocal harmonies with steel guitar, and steel guitar solo instrumentals by Eddie Bush. Soon after, the trio recorded on the Brunswick label as members of the Earl Burnett Orchestra.

By 1934 the trio had left Earl Burnett's Band and moved to the Ambassador Hotel also located in Los Angeles. Renamed "Eddie Bush and the Biltmore Trio" the group began recording on the Victor and Decca labels. At this time Eddie switched to playing the newly invented Rickenbacher Frying Pan electric steel guitar.

Eddie Bush Trio
Ed note: Various sources use Ed Burtnett's Biltmore Trio, Eddie Bush & the Biltmore Trio,
and The Los Angeles Biltmore Trio interchangeably with the above photos.

Initially the Eddie Bush Trio played primarily at West Coast venues including the "Seven Seas," and the "Coconut Grove" nightclubs in Los Angeles, the "Waikiki Room" on Catalina Island, on tour with Sonia Heine's Ice Show, and the Ice Capades. They also played in Las Vegas at the Fremont Hotel and the Golden Nugget. Over time the Trio extended its audience across the country on stage, night clubs and radio.

By the 1950s Eddie had played and recorded the steel guitar with other groups including Manny Klein's Orchestra, the Three Rhythm Boys with a young Bing Crosby, the Harmony Hawaiians (replacing Dick McIntire), Danny Kuaana's Hawaiians, the Harry Owens Orchestra, Lani McIntire and his Orchestra, and others.

Eddie Bush also played music on Hollywood movie soundtracks, and was an actor's "double" for various movie scenes. A short list of movies includes "Dinner at Eight," "Central Airport," "Party Girl" with Douglas Fairbanks, and "The Hollywood Revue" with Joan Crawford.

While living at Long Beach, California, Eddie helped to form the Polynesian Society. This group did fundraising luaus to raise money to assist Hawaiian musicians needing financial help.

In the 1950s the Magnatone Company produced a Special Eddie Bush G-70 model lap steel guitar. It is a 6-string wood body lap steel covered with fancy plastic pearloid called MOTS (mother of toilet seat.) The steel guitar also came with a matching amp and is sought after today by collectors and fans alike.

Throughout his lifetime Eddie Bush used various steel guitars beginning with a wood bodied acoustic steel, the Rickenbacher Frying Pan, the Magnatone Eddie Bush Special, and other models. He played in the E7 and the F#9 tunings.

After a long and successful life as a Hawaiian musician, Eddie Bush died in 1969 of lung cancer at age 58.

Today fans seek out the recordings of Eddie Bush. He continues to inspire steel guitarist seeking to emulate his soulful Hawaiian style. His music is now available on CD and online to a new generation of fans who can appreciate this innovative and unique Hawaiian musician!

On the Playlist of Hawaiian Steel: Eddie Bush

Song CD Album / Artist Publisher
May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii The Biltmore Trio / Earl Burnett's Biltmore Trio Grass Skirt Records
Maui Chimes Hula Lady / Harmony Hawaiians Cumquat
Hard To Get Gertie The Biltmore Trio / Los Angeles Biltmore Trio Grass Skirt Records
Rainbows Over Paradise The Biltmore Trio / Manny Klein's Hawaiians Grass Skirt Records
Maui Girl Hula Lady / Harmony Hawaiians Cumquat
Makalapua O Kamakaeha The Biltmore Trio / Manny Klein's Hawaiians Grass Skirt Records

"Hawaiian Steel" with Geri Valdriz is broadcast live every Tuesday from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm (HST) on Mana‘o Radio, Wailuku, Maui, Hawai‘i, KMNO, 91.7FM on the radio dial.

You can catch it on the air, or streaming live at www.manaoradio.com. Listeners can also access our online archives to enjoy previously recorded programs at your convenience. Just search "Listen on Demand" for past shows.

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