[Dixielandjazz] LESTER LANIN PASSES
barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Sun Oct 31 09:44:36 PST 2004
For more than six decades, he was THE society band leader for balls and
royal galas in Philadelphia and around the world. A true legend, the
beautiful people's music maker, died last Wednesday in New York City at 97.
Here are a couple of snips from his Philadelphia obit. (He was born and
raised in South Philadelphia)
"His bands played at The White House, Buckingham Palace, Grace Kelly's
engagement party in Monaco, Diana and Charles wedding, Queen Elizabeth's
60th birthday party and numerous presidential inaugurals."
"His was the music one heard at the white tie affairs thrown by the
Rockefellers, du Ponts, and others who moved in those elite circles. He was
a fixture at soirees thrown by "Philadelphia Story" aristocrats."
"As of 1992, with dozens of bands on the road simultaneously, Mr. Lanin's
dance card included 20,000 wedding receptions, 7,500 parties and 4,500 proms
along with more than 30 albums."
"He was inducted to the Big Band Hall of Fame in 1993." END QUOTES.
So why do the OKOM musicians in Philadelphia and New York mourn him?
Because he employed many of us in various Lanin bands. Especially since
Dixieland was, and is still, much favored by his clients. And he paid us
well. One of his favorite lines to young OKOM musos was "Stick with me kid,
I'll teach you the business, you'll make a lot of money, but you'll have to
learn all the tunes from Dixieland and Swing to the Great American
Songbook." Was that "Opportunity Knocking", or what?
Four of the six of us in Barbone Street worked for Lester Lanin on many
occasions for many years. And also for his brother Howard who took over the
Philadelphia Social scene musically as Lester gravitated towards New York
City. And we learned the tunes, as well as the business of music from these
two gentlemen. We also learned that Dixieland is still viable with the
social set, today, as dance music. And still viable with the jazz oblivious
as a musical entertainment form.
Those Lanin Lessons serve us well in the Philadelphia area. We are very
fortunate and very thankful that we knew Lester Lanin. We still follow his
pre performance mantra. "Let those people be pleased that they have engaged
us. Let us make sure that the people who are here have a happy evening."
Like Bird, Lester Lives.
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