Eddie Ross | Mark Berresford RARE RECORDS | Mark Berresford

Eddie Ross

Eddie Ross

Here is an extremely rare phot of enigmatic Victor recording artist "Black Face" Eddie Ross. He was a minstrel show and vaudeville performer, who recorded several sides for Victor in the 1921-23 period, and also made an unissued test record for Edison in 1917 (Edison's comments in the company's auditions files was:- "Whistling impure. Banjo at first almost inaudible. Don't think of it.")  His playing style is transitional, from the finger-picking of Vess Ossman and Fred Van Eps, to the fast plectrum style of Harry Reser - a highly-rhythmic cross between chord strumming and melody. His real name was Giraud Ross Edinger, and he was born in Hillsdale, Michigan, in March 1882, the third son of Joseph and Ida Edinger. His two other siblings were named Mertie and Bartley. He made his first banjo as a boy, using the skin of a wild cat and a cheese box! He was working in vaudeville as early as 1909 and it appears that he regularly toured in minstrel shows (he was with the Neil O'Brien Minstrels in the years 1914 - 1917, along with legendary minstrel man 'Lasses White) and in big-time vaudeville in the 1910 and 1920s - note that the photo was taken in Colorado. The Indianapolis of November 1, 1921 states: " The most diverting act on the current bill at Keith's [the local vaudeville theatre, part of the mighty Keith-Albee empire] is that of Blackface Eddie Ross, he of the African harp [a regular billing] and a  most amusing line of talk. Mr. Ross is most versatile - he can play a banjo as it ought to be played, he can whistle a bit and knows how to put over a joke. Also, he never seems to be working hard at any of these things.  His patter always comes easy and natural, and though there is no obvious punch in his stuff, there's a laugh a minute."  In 1920 he married Mary Rock in Orlando, Florida and they had one child, Giraud Ross Edinger Jr. The couple divorced in 1926, Mary remarrying the former Chicago Cubs baseball star Joe Tinker. In 1924 Ross was touring with a revue led by female impersonator Julian Eltinge which also featured Tom Brown's Six Brown Brothers, the famous saxophone group. In 1926 he was with the Al G. Fields Minstrel Show, and the following year returned to vaudeville. He died of a heart attack in New York City on 22 November, 1931. I'm extremely grateful to Eddie Ross' grandson, Charles Rock Ross for providing family information.