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Ish Kabibble; Comic Trumpet Player for Kay Kyser Band

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Ish Kabibble, the lovable and silly comedic trumpet player with Kay Kyser’s “Kollege of Musical Knowledge,” has died. He was 86.

Kabibble, whose real name was Merwyn Bogue, died Sunday in Palm Springs.

Taking his stage name from the lyrics of one of the goofy songs in his routine, Kabibble also managed Kyser’s band from 1931 to 1951, during the height of the Big Band era.

Born in Erie, Pa., Kabibble set out to study law at West Virginia University. But he segued into music after hearing Paul Whiteman’s band play in Erie.

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Kabibble, with his hair combed straight down toward his eyebrows, was always introduced by Kyser on his network radio show as “the guy with the low-cut bangs and the high-kicking cornet.”

Fans enjoyed Kabibble’s occasional jazz solos, but they preferred his nonsensical attacks on logic, such as:

“No matter how much you know about one thing, there’s always something else you ain’t as good at as, because if you was, you wouldn’t be as good at the thing you are at now, if you are?”

As an Army private, Kabibble helped Kyser’s group entertain troops during World War II. He delighted soldiers and civilians alike with his observations that water is ice standing at ease; that wind comes in different sizes such as breezes, cyclones and top sergeants, and that skin is stuff that, if you didn’t have it, the rest of you would be AWOL.

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He also offered corny poems such as:

“I sneezed a sneeze into the air;

it fell to earth I know not where;

but you should have seen the looks on those

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in whose vicinity I snoze.”

After the big bands declined in popularity, Kabibble went into selling real estate.

In 1989, with the help of his sister, Gladys Bogue Reilly, Kabibble wrote his well-received memoirs, “Ish Kabibble: The Autobiography of Merwyn Bogue.”

He is survived by his wife of more than six decades, Janet; their three children, Merwyn Jr. of San Francisco, Pamela Gilbert of Denver and Janet Arnot of Desert Hot Springs, Calif., and eight grandchildren.

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At the musician’s request, there will be no public funeral services.


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