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A fine banjo player, Elmer Snowden was the original leader of the Washingtonians, a group that would become the Duke Ellington Orchestra; a dispute over money in the mid-'20s soon found him "at liberty." Snowden had met Ellington in 1919 and before that he had worked with Eubie Blake in Baltimore. He was quite active in the 1920s as a businessman, agent, and musician, running several bands and recording occasionally. But, although he worked steadily in the 1930s, '40s, and '50s, he was essentially a minor figure during those years. In 1963, Snowden moved to California to teach at Berkeley, he toured Europe with George Wein in 1967, and made a few final recordings. ~ Scott Yanow, Rovi