No doubt you’ve heard of composer Hoagy Carmichael, who wrote the music for “Georgia on My Mind,” “Stardust,” “New Orleans,” “Lazy River,” and other classic pop/jazz songs.
But do you know where his distinctive name came from?
Hoagland Howard “Hoagy” Carmichael was born in Indiana in late 1899 to parents Howard Clyde and Lida Mary Carmichael. He had three sisters named Geogiana (nicknamed Georgia), Martha, and Joanne.
Wikipedia claims Hoagy was named for a circus troupe called “The Hoaglands,” but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
According to an autobiography, right around the time Hoagland was born “[t]here was a new railroad spur being built on the Monon line near Harrodsburg, and some of the surveyors were living in our neighborhood.” One of the railroad men, Harry Hoagland, was boarding with a relative.
Mother liked the unusual and had the imagination and the temperament of a poet, or a piano player. “Well, Hoagland sounds grand!” she said.
My father didn’t mind. “Sure, we can always use my name in the middle.”
Grandma Carmichael raised her hands in horror. “Lida, dear, please don’t name him Hoagland. They’ll nickname him Hoagy for sure. And besides, I like Taylor better.” [Taylor was Grandpa Carmichael’s name.]
Lida’s choice won, and the baby’s name became Hoagland Howard Carmichael.
His grandmother’s nickname prediction did come true, but not for a couple of decades: Hoagland didn’t start going by “Hoagy” until college.
Hoagy went on to marry a woman named Ruth. They had two sons, Hoagy Bix (born in 1938) and Randy Bob (born in 1940). Hoagy Bix’s middle name honors jazz cornetist Leon Bismark “Bix” Beiderbecke, who was a big influence on Hoagy, Sr.:
Hoagy heard a young white cornetist named Bix Beiderbecke and, “it threw my judgment out of kilter.” This was a sound like nothing he’d heard before and when Hoagy played an improvised tune for Bix, the strange young man with a magical horn said, “Whyn’t you write music, Hoagy?” The rest of his life was the answer to Bix’s question.
Randy Bob’s first name was inspired by movie actor Randolph Scott, but I’m not sure where his middle name came from.
What do you think of the name Hoagland? How about Hoagy?