Enrico Banducci's Legendary hungry i Lives Again!
Stagg McMann was one of the premier harmonica players in the world and was in show business all of his adult life. As a youngster he saw the Borrah Minevitch Harmonica Rascals in a Sonja Henie movie and decided to make the harmonica and show business his life's work.
He started out as a member of a large WPA Harmonica Band, and, along with two other members from this group, formed a trio. They began playing shows for pay while still in high school. They worked with featured acts like Ken Maynard, The Sons of the Pioneers, the Original Ink Spots and many more. After that came vaudeville, nightclubs and then he joined the Borrah Minevitch Rascals which played with the big bands, such as Woody Herman, Charlie Spivak, and Charlie Barnet, among many others.
In early 1943, Stagg went into the Army and was put into a Special Services All Army Show for the duration of World War II. In 1946 he reunited with his former partners as the Stagg McMann Trio. They toured all of the major theaters in the United States and were featured on numerous prime-time television shows such as Milton Berle, Ed Sullivan, Jackie Gleason, Steve Allen and for a time were proteges of Paul Whitman.
In 1951 Stagg returned to the Minevitch Rascals playing in Las Vegas, Reno and Elko, Nevada. After that he went on his own playing convention and banquet circuits on the west coast and then on to clubs like the Purple Onion and the "hungry i" where he played extended engagements as emcee.
He also played the Playboy Club circuit, the Blue Angel in New York and the Roostertail in Detroit. There were also numerous appearances on cruise ships , taking him all around the world besides several individual tours to Australia, Europe and the Orient. In addition, he played for a time with Jerry Murad's Harmonicats as well as doing some engagements with his friend Johnny Puleo and His Harmonica Gang. The broad range of performances further included repeated guest solo spots in Pops Concerts with the Salt Lake City Philharmonic Orchestra.
His LP recordings were: The Legendary Stagg McMann Trio, The Great Harmonica Hits, Best of the Big Bands, Show Stoppers and Bank In the Palm Of His Hand.
Stagg was truly a fine gentleman and friend. He gave his spare time to write arrangements, encourage and help the members of the Windy City Harmonica Club of Chicago. He was truly a professional musician, a classic harmonica technician, who not only played the 64 but chord, bass and the Harmonetta as well. He was respected by all harmonica musicians the world over, for he was one of the best. Stagg set the standard of harmonica excellence that all harmonica players will try to emulate for years to come.
Stagg McMann was born in 1922 as Hugh McCaskey, also known as Pud. He filled our hearts with beautiful harmonica music. He left us in the year of our Lord 1988."
Biography written by Robert P. Meteye
on the occasion of Stagg McMann being posthumously named Harmonica Player of the Year by The Society for the Preservation and Advancement of Harmonicas