George "Pops" Foster
born on 18/5/1892 in McCall, LA, United States
died on 30/10/1969 in San Francisco, CA, United States
Alias Pops Foster
George Murphy "Pops" Foster (May 19, 1892 – October 29, 1969) was a jazz musician best known for his vigorous slap bass playing of the string bass. He also played the tuba and trumpet professionally.
Foster was born to Charley and Annie Foster on a plantation near McCall in Ascension Parish near Baton Rouge in south Louisiana. His family moved to New Orleans when he was about ten years of age. His older brother, Willard Foster, began playing banjo and guitar; George started out on a cello then switched to string bass. Foster married twice: to Bertha Foster in 1912 and Alma Foster in 1936.
In 1921 he moved to St. Louis to play with the Charlie Creath and Dewey Jackson bands, in which he would be active for much of the decade. He also joined Ory in Los Angeles. He acquired the nickname "Pops" because he was far older than any of the other players in the band.
In 1929 Foster moved to New York City, where he played with the bands of Luis Russell and Louis Armstrong through 1940. He gigged with various New York-based bands through the 1940s, including those of Sidney Bechet, Art Hodes, and regular broadcasts on the national This Is Jazz radio program. He also recorded for the Mezzrow-Bechet Quintet (Sidney Bechet, Mezz Mezzrow, Fitz Weston, and Kaiser Marshall) and Septet (on two consecutive dates in 1945, with Pappa Snow White, Jimmy Blythe, Jr., Danny Barker and Sid Catlett, and on the second session with Pleasant Joe on vocals).
In the late 1940s he began touring more widely and played in many countries in Europe, especially in France, and throughout the United States including returns to New Orleans and California.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, he played with Earl Hines' Small Band. In 1966, he toured Europe with the New Orleans All-Stars but remained based in San Francisco, where he died.
The Autobiography of Pops Foster was published in 1971, with a new edition in 2005 ISBN 0-87930-831-1 (alk. paper). The book is not known for great accuracy when some anecdotes are compared to other sources.
- George Murphy 'Pops' Foster", A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography (Vol. 1 (1988), p. 315)
- John Chilton, Who's Who of Jazz: Storyville to Swing Street (1972)