Who were the Coon-Sanders Nighthawks?

Coon-Sanders Nighthawks
Coon-Sanders Nighthawks

The Nighthawks Orchestra/Band was a musical group formed in the early 1920s by Carleton Coon and Joe Sanders. Originating in the Plantation Grill at the Muehlebach Hotel, the Nighthawks gained world-wide fame as WDAF broadcast their shows on the radio throughout the Western Hemisphere.

They made records on the Victor label and traveled to engagements all over the Midwest, garnering a loyal following, and finally ended up in New York City. Unfortunately, Carleton Coon died in 1932 and the original group fell apart.

Fred Edmiston, in The Coon-Sanders Nighthawks: The Band That Made Radio Famous, gives a complete history of the orchestra, “the band whose gay, saucy, and bustling music, and carefree and extravagant musicians symbolized the era between World War I and the Great Depression.” Edmiston’s collection of material that relates to the publication of the book is part of the Missouri Valley Special Collections.

Three other collections in the Missouri Valley Room, the Harvey Rettberg papers, Clyde Hahn scrapbooks, and the Joe Sanders collection, provide a rich resource for information on the Nighthawks.

For more information search the Local History Index.

Librarian Sara Nyman
April 2006

<< Return to all Kansas City FAQs.