[Dixielandjazz] Heaven's band gets a reedman - Glenn Blair

Haupt Dave srdaven at yahoo.com
Fri Apr 9 00:51:14 PDT 2004

I've lived six houses from this gentleman for five
years, shared more than one drink, and debated
politics, religion and philosophy with him.  I knew he
had been an OKOM musician, and had spent some time on
cruise ships in big bands in the 1960s.  But I had not
realized how thoroughly immersed in it he was until I
spent time looking through newspaper clippings and
reading liner notes on albums.  Herewith my humbly
submitted notes:

= = =

Glenn’s first significant gig was leader of the house
band at the Melody Bowl in Santa Rosa, in 1942.  He
was then but 16 years old.  In 1997, Santa Rosa Press
Democrat staff writer Gaye
Lebaron said 

“Blair was a young clarinet and sax
player from Anderson Valley who assembled young
musicians, including the Gray brothers, Gordon and
Dick, trumpeter Nick Bardes, who became president of
the Musicians’ Union in the Bay Area, Jack Sava and
pianist Dave Lagan…his regular vocalists were Al
Fredericks and Ruth Gardner, he recalls, but a young
singer named Merv Griffin did a few nights with him as
did a guy named Al Cernik who later hit the big time
with Mitch Miller and changed his name to Guy

Glenn was exposed, of course, to the numerous touring
bands that visited the Melody Bowl.  A local favorite
was Spike Jones, and many others packed the house
including Harry James, Bob Crosby, Vaughn Monroe, Stan
Kenton, Gene Krupa, and Louis Prima.

Glenn Blair’s Orchestra held forth until Glenn was
drafted.  Upon his return, he sought to join up with
the touring bands he so admired, and the 1950s saw him
on the road, as an alto saxophonist and sometimes
arranger, with the big bands of Russ Morgan, Gene
Krupa and Tommy Dorsey.  He then played with the house
show bands in the Las Vegas, Reno and Tahoe areas for
many years, returning to the road with Big Tiny Little
and Clyde McCoy, this time featured on clarinet.  In
1977, he returned to his native Santa Rosa, and
accepted a studio saxophone instructor position at
Sonoma State University.

Glenn continued to play on and off, and with his
newfound roots, grew his fondness for his other love,

Glenn passed away last week at 78.

I knew Glenn as the tall energetic guy with sparkling
eyes and a strong opinion about everything, who had a
keen philosophic sense about life.  Rest in peace, my

Services are this Saturday at 2pm, at Daniel's Chapel
of the Roses, 1225 Sonoma Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA. 
Rumour has it that OKOM will prevail.

= = =

Regretfully submitted,

Dave Haupt

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