Remembering past bandleaders, musicians, arrangers and ballroom operators.
Tony Pastor, 62, Dies; Led Band
New London, Conn. (AP) - Tony Pastor, whose band was a top attraction on the "big band" circuit in the 1940s, died Friday at Lawrence-Memorial Hospital. He was 62.
The Tony Pastor band played Roseland in New York City, toured the country, and appeared on radio and television.
Pastor, who was born Anthony Pestritto in Middletown, began his travels in 1923 when he left his home and joined Irving Aaronson's Commanders. At the time, he was 16.
[Source: Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), dated November 1, 1969]
New Orleans Crowd Dances to Dixieland
New Orleans, La. (AP) – They buried Negro jazz clarinetist Alphonse Picou with music Thursday, and hundreds danced in the streets as two bands blared a Dixieland farewell.
Mr. Picou, 82, a tinsmith by day and musician by night, was perhaps most famed as the originator of the clarinet solo in “High Society.” Prominent in jazz circles since 1894, he helped develop the distinctive New Orleans jazz style of clarinet playing.
His funeral five days after he died was the biggest since bandleader Oscar (Papa) Celestin died a half dozen years ago, jazz fans said.
Two 10-piece Negro brass bands playing slow, haunting dirges and hymns, accompanied the hearse. Walter Nelson, a musician friend, carried Mr. Picou’s clarinet.
Coming back from the cemetery, the bands played the ragtime that Mr. Picou helped create at the turn of the century. An army of jazz fans and friends, Negro and white, danced down the streets.
[Source: Omaha World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), dated February 10, 1961]
Pneumonia Kills Jazzman Prima
New Orleans (AP) – Bandleader Louis Prima, familiar to millions for his strident jazz trumpet and raspy baritone singing, died of pneumonia Thursday after nearly three years in a coma, a family spokesman said. He was 66.
Prima underwent brain surgery in October 1975 and never fully regained consciousness. He was flown from a Los Angeles hospital to New Orleans in mid-February 1976.
The gravel-voiced musician hit the peak of his popularity in the 1950s with singer Keely Smith, a deadpan contrast to his rough-neck exuberance. She was his third wife, and the pair was married eight years.
[Source: Omaha World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), dated August 25, 1978]
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