Teagarden, Clois Lee [Cubby] (1915–1969)

By: Cheryl L. Simon and Dave Oliphant

Type: Biography

Published: December 1, 2006

Updated: August 20, 2015

Cubby Teagarden, jazz drummer and occasional singer, was born Clois Lee Teagarden in Vernon, Texas, on December 16, 1915. He was the son of Charles and Helen (Geinger) Teagarden. His parents were both musical, and his mother was an accomplished pianist and also taught the instrument. After his father died of influenza in 1918, the family moved to Chappell, Nebraska, and they later moved to Oklahoma City. Cubby played and sometimes sang in bands with his sister, Norma, and his brothers, trombonist Jack and trumpeter Charlie. His first professional job, around 1930, was in the balcony of a drugstore in Dallas, where he played two-hour afternoon sessions, six days a week, with his brothers and Drew Page; the performers received merchandise credit. He barnstormed around the Texas oilfields and appeared at the Chicago World's Fair with Charles LaVere. He married Irene Cathrum on August 10, 1936.

From 1939 to 1940, Cubby was a member of Jack Teagarden's big band, but he was replaced by Dave Tough. He later played with the Oklahoma Symphony and with his own band. He performed with such musicians as Charles McCamish, Casper Reardon, Clint and Carl Garvin, Hub Lytle, Mark Bennett, Herb Quigley, Terry Shand, Art Saint John, John Van Eps, Art Miller, Allan Reuss, Jose Gutierrez, Frankie Trumbauer, Charlie Spivak, Ernie Caceres, and Benny Goodman. His drums and some vocals can be heard on various Jack Teagarden LPs, such as Stars Fell on Alabama: 1931–1940 (1990) and Big T (1994). Cubby Teagarden left the music world after 1948 and worked for the General Telephone Company in Long Beach, California. Cubby failed to share in the fame enjoyed by his elder brothers, who were both well-sought-after jazzmen and who, during much of the 1930s, were featured soloists with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra and countless smaller groups, with Jack starring among Louis Armstrong's All-Stars of the 1940s. Cubby Teagarden died in June 1969 and was buried in Brownsville Cemetery in Yuba County, California.

Whitney Balliett, American Musicians: 56 Portraits in Jazz (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986). John Chilton, Who's Who of Jazz: Storyville to Swing Street (Philadelphia: Chilton, 1972). Leonard G. Feather, Encyclopedia of Jazz (New York: Bonanza 1960). Barry Kernfeld, ed., New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, 2nd ed., (New York: Grove's Dictionaries Inc., 2002). Drew Page, Drew's Blues: A Sideman's Life with the Big Bands (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1980).


  • Music
  • Genres (Jazz)

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Cheryl L. Simon and Dave Oliphant, “Teagarden, Clois Lee [Cubby],” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 24, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/teagarden-clois-lee-cubby.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 1, 2006
August 20, 2015

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