Gary Burghoff said jazz was ''the source of all American music''

Intro to music: Gary Burghoff was known for being a jazz musician before he was known for being an actor in M*A*S*H.

Before Gary Burghoff was known as an actor, he was mainly known for his music. You may remember the M*A*S*H episode "Showtime," where his character, Radar O'Reilly, played the drums for the 4077th. 

That wasn't Burghoff's first time behind a drum set, in fact, the lovable man with a teddy bear in hand was a well-known jazz drummer. He loved jazz so much that he called it "the source of all American music." 

He started learning how to play and read music at a young age. He played the trumpet in school and eventually moved on to play the drums, and by the time he was a 13-year-old he had already started his own band.

In a 1981 interview with Hartford Courant, Burghoff said he grew up in a musical family. The Connecticut native eventually moved to New York, in order to have a better shot at a career in both acting and music. For Burghoff, his hometown of Bristol and jazz became inseperable.

"I can remember peeking in the family room and seeing my brother on the clarinet, my mother on the accordion and my father playing tenor sax," Burghoff said. "I guess you could say that rhythm was very much a part of my psyche."

According to the interview, he would travel and perform regularly in New Orleans, a city famous for jazz and riverboats. Burghoff said he used to dream of performing on the riverboats. Burghoff performed in many jazz clubs in New York, as well as going on the road and performing  in the circus.

In 1967, Burghoff landed the leading role in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, which became the start to Burghoff's massive success. 

During the time of the interview, Burghoff had a seven-piece band called Mardi Gras Celebration All-Star Just For Fun Dixieland Band. Whew, now that's a band name. He also shot three public specials with the U.S. Army Band.

Burghoff saw many successes while playing and performing music, he had written hundreds of songs and he became an icon both on TV and with a pair of drum sticks in hand.

Watch M*A*S*H on MeTV!

Weeknights at 6 PM, Sundays at 7 PM

*available in most MeTV markets
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

17 Comments

Maris 9 months ago
He does play a mean set of drums.
Runeshaper 9 months ago
I love jazz music 🎼! Gary just went up a level in my book 📕! 🙂👍👍
Bapa1 9 months ago
Like Jazz myself. Big Coltrane and Miles fan.
Runeshaper Bapa1 9 months ago
Me too!
tootsieg 9 months ago
“Showtime” showed off Gary Burghoff’s talent as a jazz drummer. Fun episode.
JHP 9 months ago
he played the drums and it was funny and cool:)
Andybandit 9 months ago
Good story. MeTv has had a lot of good stories about the MASH Characters.
Wiseguy70005 Andybandit 9 months ago
You mean actors?
Moody 9 months ago
"Mardi Gras Celebration All-Star Just For Fun Dixieland Band". I'll bet that was fun trying to fit onto a marquee!
Coldnorth Moody 9 months ago
Or saying it while enjoying a few drinks. Quite an unusual name for a band, a real tongue twister
teire 9 months ago
“Ah, Bach.”
LoveMETV22 teire 9 months ago
LOL.
" That's highly significant."
"Well, I'm partial to the fugue."

Coldnorth teire 9 months ago
That’s one of my favorite Radar lines. makes me laugh every time
LoveMETV22 9 months ago
"I can remember peeking in the family room and seeing my brother on the clarinet, my mother on the accordion and my father playing tenor sax," Burghoff said. "I guess you could say that rhythm was very much a part of my psyche."
--------------------------
Certainly music was a big part of his family life. Glad he was able to showcase some of that on M*A*S*H.
Mblack 9 months ago
Didn't he drum for Wonder Woman?
Bapa1 Mblack 9 months ago
Yes.
WonderGeorge Mblack 9 months ago
He certainly did - Gary was the drummer for a Phoenix-area based rock band called "The Relatives", which featured Lynda Carter on vocals.
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?