Houston Public Library, Houston Metropolitan Research Center

Ed Gerlach Collection MSS.0388

Descriptive Summary

Creator Gerlach, Ed
Title: Ed Gerlach Collection
Dates: 1920-1989
Identification: MSS.0388
Quantity: 0.5 Linear feet, 1 small document box, 1 cassette tape, 1 oral history tape
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library

Biographical Note

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.

Scope and Contents

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.


The oral history interview, tape OH 474, is housed with the Oral History Collection. The Ed Gerlach Collection is arranged in four series by format:
Series 1: Oral History Interview
Series 2: Promotional Materials
Series 3: Photographs
Series 4: Recordings


Access Restrictions


Use Restrictions

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.

Index Terms

Anchor Inn (New Orleans, La.)
Bronze Peacock (Houston, Tex.)
Cobb, Arnett, 1918-1989
Davis, Bill, 1919-1995
Ed Gerlach and His Houstonians (Musical group)
Ed Gerlach Orchestra (Musical group)
El Dorado Club (Houston, Tex.)
Ellington Air Force Base (Tex)
Ford, James M., 1927-
Glenn Miller Orchestra
Haywood, Cedric
Larkin, Milt, 1910-1996
Log Cabin (Galveston, Tex.)
McIntyre Band
McIntyre, Hal, d. 1959.
Meadowbrook Ballroom (Cedar Grove, N.J.)
Metropolitan Theater (Houston, Tex.)
Milton Larkin Orchestra (Musical group)
Rice Hotel (Houston, Tex.)
Sam Houston State University (Huntsville, Tex.)
Orchestral musicians—United States

Related Archival Materials note

Ed Gerlach Oral History, HMRC Oral History Collection, October 18, 1989

MSS 345 Jimmy Ford Collection

MSS 322 Arnett Cobb Collection

MSS 252 Milton Larkin Collection

MSS 403 Illinois Jacquet Collection

MSS 337 Jewel Brown Collection

MSS 442 Herb Brochstein Collection

MSS 349 I.H. Smalley Collection

MSS 390 Campbell Tolbert Collection

MSS 336 Florence "Bu" Pleasant Collection

MSS 397 Art Foxall Collection

MSS 441 Nathaniel "Bill" Barnes Collection

MSS 375 David "Fathead" Newman Collection

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Ed Gerlach Collection. Collection Number MSS 388. Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library.

Acquisition Information

Donated by: Ed Gerlach, October 18, 1989.

Processing Information

Processing by: Charles Stephenson and Tammy Jordan June 29, 2007. Biographical note contributed by Tammy Jordan.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Oral History Interviews

Box Folder
1 1 Personal interview transcript, October 18, 1989

Promotional Materials

Box Folder
1 2 Press kits. Gerlach Entertainment Incorporated. 1980s
3 Newspaper clippings. 1980s-1991


Box Number
1 MSS 388.1 Ed Gerlach Orchestra. Ed Gerlach ns2:shown conducting orchestra. Warwick Hotel. Musicfest Gala. 1980s
MSS 388.002 Les Brown, special guest and honoree photographed in front of Ed Gerlach Orchestra. Musicfest. 1989 or 1990
MSS 388.003 Gerlach and band at Washington Airport enroute to play President Bush Inaugural Ball
MSS 388.004 Ed Gerlach playing saxophone at Birraporretti’s in Downtown Houston for Big Band Night. 1994
MSS 388.005 Ed Gerlach and Janet Smith (former vocalist with the Ed Gerlach Orchestra for over 20 years) performing
MSS 388.006 Ed Gerlach playing piano at Sam Houston State College. 1942
MSS 388.007 Band portrait. Ed Gerlach and His Houstonians. Medicine Park, Oklahoma. 1939
MSS 388.008 Ed Gerlach Orchestra performing. Livingston, Texas. 1940
MSS 388.009 Ed Gerlach Orchestra with vocalists Janet Smith and Ed Murdock. 1960
MSS 388.010 Portrait photograph of Ed Gerlach Orchestra trombone section. Left to right: Steve Cox, Ed Gerlach, Jim McLaughlin, Al

Sound Recordings

Loose in box
Cassette tape Ed Gerlach Orchestra “Live,” Texas Big Band Series
General note
Song List:
  • What Are You Doing the Rest Of Your Life,
  • Medley: Stranger In the Night; Call Me Irresponsible; Moonlight Becomes You,
  • The Way You Look Tonight,
  • Salute to Glenn Miller: String of Pearls; Perfidia; Little Brown Jug; Elmer’s Tune; Moonlight Serenade,
  • Close To Home,
  • Sun Valley Jump,
  • West Side Medley: Tonight Maria,
  • Blue Champagne,
  • Stairway To the Stars,
  • Moonlight Cocktail,
  • I Loved Her,
  • Jersey Bounce,
  • Don’t Be That Way,
  • American Patrol,
  • Stormy Weather,
  • The Lady Is a Tramp.