Ed Gerlach Collection MSS.0388
Ed Gerlach was born in Livingston, Texas, in 1920 and began playing the piano at the age of five. An only child, Mr. Gerlach was raised by his grandparents and other extended family members who were extremely supportive of his musical interests. When his grandmother obtained a soprano saxophone for him, she began learning alto saxophone so she could assist him. When Mr. Gerlach was still at a young age he switched over to tenor saxophone, and his grandmother had him driven to lessons in Houston to study with Cliff Drescher. It was discovered early on that Mr. Gerlach was a natural talent, although he has professed to practicing less than 30 minutes daily at that time.
During his college years, Mr. Gerlach attended Texas A&M, studying architecture for a brief time before he decided that music was what he would do professionally. He was offered a scholarship to Sam Houston State University to study in the music department and shortly after beginning he was asked to head the college’s dance band. As the band became an independent entity from the school, World War II began. The group, now called Ed Gerlach and the Houstonians, were so dedicated towards keeping the band together that they enlisted in the Air Force at Ellington Field simultaneously.
During his years at Ellington Field, Mr. Gerlach performed weekly with his band at The Rice Hotel for cadet graduations. On furlough, he befriended Milton Larkin and Arnett Cobb while frequenting music venues in Houston’s Fourth Ward. Mr. Gerlach developed a deep admiration for these fellow-musicians, and was asked to join them in playing on occasion. He also was discovered by Hal McIntyre of the McIntyre Band. From that post, he was hired by the manager of the Glenn Miller Orchestra.
In 1953, Mr. Gerlach resigned from the Glenn Miller Orchestra and returned to Texas. At the University of Houston, he taught music history and orchestration, while teaching private music lessons and performing. Following his work at University of Houston, Mr. Gerlach began performing locally, primarily at the Shamrock Hotel and the River Oaks Country Club with his band. During that period, he also played with performers such as Tony Bennett, Bob Hope and the Manhattan Transfer, among many others.
Most recently, Mr.Gerlach has operated a successful booking agency for performing artists and continues performing, as of 2007, to appreciative audiences throughout Texas.
The materials in the Ed Gerlach Collection chronicle Mr. Gerlach’s musical career from his high school years to 1989. The collection consists of an oral history interview, fully transcribed to 51 pages, promotional materials, 10 photographs and a sound recording.
Permission to publish or reproduce materials from the Ed Gerlach Collection must be obtained from the Houston Metropolitan Research Center or the appropriate copyright holder.
Ed Gerlach Collection. Collection Number MSS 388. Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library.
Donated by: Ed Gerlach, October 18, 1989.
Processing by: Charles Stephenson and Tammy Jordan June 29, 2007. Biographical note contributed by Tammy Jordan.
Detailed Description of the Collection