[Ads-l] Kazoo Old Wive's Tale

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue May 2 15:19:22 EDT 2017

I've found an interesting connection between Pink Floyd and the old wives' tale about the origin of the kazoo.

The story goes that the kazoo was invented by a black man from Georgia named Alabama Vest recruited a German clockmaker named Thaddeus Von Clegg to manufacture the first kazoo, and they exhibited it at the 1850 Georgia State Fair in Macon, Georgia.

Sadly, that story has found its way into a few serious-minded cultural history books.

The story is almost certainly a fabrication by the Kaminsky International Kazoo Quartet, who had five members, performed with another trio called the Fie-on-the-Arts Trio, and none of whom were named Kaminsky.  When they performed at Alice Tully Hall in New York City in 1977, they gave several interviews with mostly tongue-in-cheek responses - the Von Clegg story was one of those.  The members had all studied at the Eastman School of Music and performed as a group at a picnic in Rochester NY as early as 1972.

But why the name Von Clegg?   I just learned the Pink Floyd had a song called "Corporal Clegg" that prominently features a bunch of kazoos.  Funny stuff.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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