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Mark Elliott

HAGAN, ED (1919–1996). Celebrated vibraphonist, drummer, and percussionist, Ed Hagan was born in Greenville, Texas, in 1919. He was given a saxophone when he was seven years old but did not like the instrument. Instead he showed an affinity for percussion instruments. About age twelve, Hagan attended the Allen Academy, a college prep and military school in Bryan, Texas, on a drum scholarship. At seventeen, he went to Southern Methodist University on a percussion scholarship and eventually ended up playing, in the 1930s, for the WFAA-AM Early Birds radio show and a variety show sponsored by Imperial Sugar. During this time, Hagan played the morning radio shows, a lunch show at the Adolphus Hotel in downtown Dallas, and then a late-night gig.

In the 1940s he joined fiddler Johnny Long’s band and appeared in the 1943 Abbott and Costello film Hit the Ice. After a one-year tour of duty (1944–45) with the United States Army Air Corps, where he was stationed in Wichita Falls and New Orleans, Hagan returned to Dallas and in 1947 played in Dirwood Cline’s popular dance band. He also started his own trio with bassist Al Wesar and guitarist Donnie Gilliland. At the same time, he became a percussionist in the Dallas Symphony Orchestra where he performed in concerts with Igor Stravinsky, Leontyne Price, and Cab Calloway, and he remained with the organization for five years. In the 1950s Hagan went on tour for Olympic ice-skating champion Sonja Henie’s shows in Europe and South America. He spent two years as a drummer for the productions and three years as conductor. In 1955 he went on vacation in the Virgin Islands, where he temporarily gave up music, opened restaurants in St. Croix and St. Thomas, and became a chef. He stayed in the Virgin Islands for eighteen years.

In 1973 he returned to Texas and became one of the original chefs at The Grape on Greenville Avenue in Dallas. On his return to Dallas, he picked up music and practiced long hours so that he could perform professionally again. Hagan focused on the xylophone, marimba, vibraphone, and a hybrid instrument called the xylomarimba. He became a regular performer at Strictly Tabu and Lombardi’s 311 in Dallas as well as the 8.0 Bar in Fort Worth until the early 1990s. Other musicians Hagan performed with include Frank Sinatra and Benny Goodman. He was married twice and had a daughter. Hagan passed away on December 24, 1996, at Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas after a six-year battle with cancer.


Dallas Morning News on January 2, 1997. Strictly Tabu: D Magazine Blurbs (http://strictlytabu.blogspot.com/), accessed October 9, 2011. Matt Weitz, “Ed Hagan, 1919–1996: Another tru original leaves us,” Dallas Observer, January 16, 1997 (http://www.dallasobserver.com/1997-01-16/music/ed-hagan-1919-1996/), accessed October 9, 2011.

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Mark Elliott, "HAGAN, ED," accessed June 01, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fhafy.

Uploaded on August 7, 2014. Modified on October 4, 2014. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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