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Fred Jewell and “The Screamer”


Frederick Alton (Fred) Jewell (May 28, 1875 – February 11, 1936) was a prolific musical composer of band and circus music in the early twentieth century who wrote over 100 marches and screamers.  Jewell was born on May 28, 1875, in Worthington, Indiana.  He became interested in music at a young age, learning a number of instruments, including cornet, violin, clarinet, trombone, piano, and calliope; but as a performer, he is best remembered as a virtuoso euphonium player.  At the age of 16, he ran away from home and joined the Gentry Bros. Dog & Pony Show as a euphonium player. He also played the calliope. After making excellent impressions with successful circus officials, Jewell rose through the ranks. He eventually landed himself as the leader of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus band (like Karl King, another successful American composer of his time). He also played in or directed the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus and the Sells-Floto Circus.  Jewell’s first composition was published in 1897.  Some of his early circus marches include “Battle Royal” (1909), “Floto’s Triumph” (1906), “Quality Plus” (1913), and “E Pluribus Unum” (1917).

In the off-season Jewell led various theatrical stock company bands, theater orchestras, and church ensembles near his Indiana hometown.  He retired from circuses in 1918 and traveled to Iowa, where he lived until 1923, taking leadership of the Iowa Brigade Band in Fairfield.  Then at Oskaloosa, he organized the first high school band in 1919.  From there he began his own publishing company in 1920 and moved back to his hometown of Worthington, IN, in 1923, where he served as high school band director, as well as a steady composer of band music.  He led the Murat Temple Shrine Band of Indianapolis.   In total, he composed over 100 marches, along with several overtures, waltzes, novelties, and other works. He directed other local bands in Florida, such as the Tampa municipal band, and Indiana also.   Some of his later marches include “Supreme Triumph” (1920), “The Screamer” (1921), and “The Old Circus Band” (1923).  Highly esteemed by his peers, Jewell was elected to membership in the American Bandmasters Association.  He died on February 11, 1936, at the age of 61 in Worthington.

My collection includes the following works by Fred Jewell:

                E Pluribus Unum.

The Screamer.


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