PETE KELLY’S BLUES was a short-lived radio program that aired for 13 weeks in the summer of 1951. The main protagonist was Pete Kelly, a cornet player of a jazz combo, in a speakeasy in Kansas City, Missouri, in the early 1920s. In this era was a hotbed of organized crime and corruption. Kelly would, on a weekly basis, be dragged into a crime caper involving gangsters, gun molls and racketeers. Backed by the music of Pete Kelly’s Big Seven, and with downbeat endings, the radio program was a fresh concept on network broadcasting.
PETE KELLY’S BLUES was the brainchild of Jack Webb (the same man responsible for DRAGNET) who also played the title role. Not only was Webb’s performance tour-de-force on a weekly basis, but it was also the music that dominated the series. Despite the all-too-brief run over NBC Radio, the program spawned a short-lived TV series, two LP records and a major motion-picture. So it comes as no surprise that the series developed a cult following over the decades.
Regrettably, only 7 of the 13 radio broadcasts exist in recorded form.
This book not only provides a brief history of the program, but also reprints all 13 radio scripts including the six that do not exist in recorded form, for those longing to “listen” to those missing capers.