Trumpeter George "Pee Wee" Erwin was born in Falls City in 1913. A friend of Falter's, both men played together in the Gehling Theater's house band in Falls City in 1926. Erwin's early career in Kansas City kept him in contact with Falter, who was then attending the Kansas City Art Institute.
In addition to studio jobs Erwin played with Joe Haymes, Benny Goodman, Ray Noble, and Tommy Dorsey. In the introduction to This Horn for Hire, William M. Weinberg described Erwin as "one of those unsung heroes without whom no leader could have achieved stardom, the gifted, flexible, and reliable players who were the backbone of the bands."
During the mid twenties I played, or attempted to play, jazz clarinet with my schoolmates in Falls City, Al Maust and Pee Wee Erwin. I plan to go and record . . . these men who have kept pure jazz alive. You see, I am attempting to visually record the jazz I was never able to properly play. -- John Falter
pencil on paper, 1971
Falter's drawing includes the Broadmoor Jazz Party button that served as admission to the sessions, a detail omitted from the print version.
Donor: John P. Falter Collection
"Pee Wee" Erwin
lithograph, from the "Jazz from Life" series, 1971
Donor: Cliff's Notes, Inc.