Tales of the Road
Time: between Sept. 1954 and Sept 1955
Age: 21
Somewhere in Texas approximately 3 A.M.

We had finished a Dance job and were enroute to the next location. I was driving one of the three cars of four people each when I noticed that oncoming headlights seemed unusually dim. I slowed the Oldesmobile 98 to figure out what was up. Even though this was a highway still it was only two lanes. (no freeways at that time)

As I got closer and closer to this other car I became more and more suspicious that something was wrong. Finally I realized that the other car was not moving and was in fact stopped in the middle of the highway. We walked up to the other car, the driver was dead drunk and the car had run out of gas. When we opened the door a revolver fell out on the pavement. How lucky we were that the headlights had not gone out yet. We were boiling mad at this jerk so we just pushed him and the car way off the side of the road, threw the gun out in the desert and drove away.


Tales of the Road #3
Sometime between Sept 1954 and Sept 1955

Sibby Brock was the bass player in the Tony Pastor band. Sibby was Mr Five-by-five and moved slower than molasses in Feb. He was a cheerful guy (most of the time).

We were playing a gig somewhere in the U.S. when suddenly a horrible crashing sound burst form. We all turned to look at Sibby and the cause of the crash was immediately apparent — Sibby’s bass and folded up on itself. For anyone not familiar with the old-fashioned string bass, picture a violin with gigantism and then see that the neck has collapsed onto the main body.


Tales of the Road #4
Sometime between 9/54 and 9/55

We were playing a three-week engagement at the Hollywood Palladium.

During an intermission the aforementioned Sibby Brock (Mr. Five by Five) hobbled as fast as he could to a Deli about a block or two away.

When he returned with a most delicious looking sandwich, his friend Phil Colosimo begged for just a little bite. After much pleading and begging Sibby handed the sandwich to him. Phil opened his mouth like a big ole alligator and took a humongous bite. When Sibby saw what was left he said @#%^&* and threw the remains on the floor. Of Course the rest of us laughed like crazy!


Tales of the Road Marathon
Sometime between 9/54 and 9/55

We played a gig somewhere in Iowa, left right afterward and traveled to Chicago where we had an afternoon rehearsal then played a show and dance and left right afterward to drive to Detroit.

When we finally checked into a hotel I was too tired to go to sleep!


Tales of the Road — Stubby
Tony Pastor’s brother, Stubby, played trumpet in a 3 - man section. Stubby’s approach to playing ad lib solos was similar to a politician’s speech. Many of those can Speechify a cascade in a given length of time without really saying anything. Stubby’s solos sounded like someone pounding a typewriter and were just about as musical. We were getting ready to play a dance somewhere in Montana in a log cabin complete with food and drink. Stubby was over in a corner doing his usual warmup when a customer approached with the comment “you sure are a good player,” “I’ll give you $5.00 to quit!”


Tales of the Road — Johnny Mathis
Sometime between 1975 and 1979

During a two-week tour with the Al Cobine Orch. playing for Johhny Mathis shows.

We were close enough that I was able to stop by my home and pick up my wife. We drove to Louisville, KY for two shows in one evening at a venue similar to a Coliseum.

We had a rehearsal and then played the first of two shows. Since the time between shows was short Johnny had a catered meal for the Orch. He was kind enough to invite my wife to participate.

Johnny was sitting at the head of the table, I was on his right and Pat was on his left. The first serving was a bowl of various melons cut in balls. Johnny looked at it and said “Ah jes LUV watamelon.” Then he grinned at both of us and waited for response. I just about broke a rib trying not to laugh and Pat nearly choked on a piece of melon.


Tales of the Road (and Air)
We flew to Fairbanks Alaska in June. We were put up at the Air Force base for a week and during that time we played all the military clubs, NCO club, Officers club, etc. We even played in town at a “nightclub.”

On June 21st they have an annual baseball game at midnight and without artificial light.

All the military facilities on post were connected by huge tunnels — barbershop, bank, chow hall, etc.

While we were there there was a case of an Eskimo woman who found out that her Air Force boyfriend was cheating on her. She took one of their Eskimo knives and cut him to ribbons.

A friend who left the AF band in Alaska in 1952 says there were no such “tunnels” when he left. But I definitely saw at least one and was told about the others.


Tales of the Road — Sibby Strikes Again!
Sometime in 1954-55

We were playing at a plush Country Club somewhere in Texas (Dallas?). During the intermissions Sibby Brock made friends with one of the waiters. By the end of the evening he managed to convince the waiter to give him a bottle of champaigne in exchange for some paltry sum — perhaps $5? So we finish the gig, pack up and start out to the next site. Soon Sibby gets thirsty and decides to open the bottle. He starts wrestling with the bottle and finally manages to open it with the usual blast of foam and spray. Of course we others in the car were not happy with Sibby. So then Sibby gets the idea that he might have broken off a piece of glass in the process and is worried that the glass might be inside the bottle. Then he gets the bright idea to shine a flashlight up thru the bottom of the bottle in a futile search for the piece of glass. Now picture what this would look like to a person on the side of the road — a car blasting down the road at some 75 - 80 miles per hr. with a magic green bottle complete with bubbles and a light shining up thru it.


p.s. He drank it anyway.

Tales of the Road (Sort of)
This actually took place locally and at a different time from the other tales.

We were having a rehearsal with Marlene Dietrich (apologies if I miss-spelled it) at Clowes Hall in Indianapolis.

During the rehearsal we were introduced to some really nutsy behavior on her part. First she wanted the carriage under the grandpiano to be dusted. Next she wanted the drummer not to be located directly behind her as it would appear as if she two sets of arms. Then she wanted the lead trumpet to sound as if he were located on top of a mountain several miles away. The next nutsy comment was that she did not like the color of the footlights and wanted them turned off even though they were always on whenever the footlights were on. She demanded that the wires should be cut!

Finally, she did not like the speed at which the stage curtains opened and closed and did not like the answer that they were operated electrically.

After the performance she tried to get thru the closed curtains to take a bow and in so doing knocked over the microphone!


Tales of the Road — More Sort of
For awhile there was an afternoon TV show here in Indianapolis called “The Jim Gerrard Show.” There was a small band that played for the show, and I occasionally was a part of that group.

I was not there for this particular story but heard about it from friends. I think it is funny but some may not agree, if not don't read it.

The trombone player and a sax player who were next to each other had the habit that when a pretty woman was on the show one would lean over to the other and say “Dum de Dah Dah!” So one day there was a very pretty woman there but she only had one leg. The trombone player leaned over to the sax player and said “Dum de Dah.” Can we at least get a chuckle!


Tales of the Road — Movie Time
During the time that we were playing at the Hollywood Palladium we made what used to be called a “movie short” at Universal Studios.
(at least I think my memory is correct on this point) For those of you who don't have a clue as to what I am talking about — cause you are too young; The theatres used to present two features and they needed other things to “fill” the time between the main features. So we spent the morning at the studio filming the “short.” The basis of the short is that we were the stage band playing at a nightclub and various entertainers put on their bits while we played between their acts. There were tables around a stage-dance floor and the extras were sitting at the tables as customers observing the show. The thing that we had such a difficult time with is that there was not to be ANY sounds while all of this was going on and we could not keep from laughing while pretending to play and not emit any little beeps. As a result of our difficulty following these instructions we were only on the film for about 5 - 10 seconds.

p.s. we received the grand total of $40 and we did not get to see the film until several months later at a theatre in Memphis


Tales of the Road — Reno
On tour with the T.P. band.

We came in thru the mountains on the way to Reno. There was a snow storm that caused us to have to get chains for the tires before being allowed by police to continue.

We played at the Golden Nugget for a couple of weeks (as I recall).

We played three shows a night and started about 8 or 9 P.M. So it was pretty late in the morning when we finished. There was some atomic testing (supposedly) not too far from Reno so we were constantly watching for fireworks in the sky — never did see any.

This is the first place that I tasted a whiskey sour while playing the slot machines IN the bar. One could drink and play the slots at the same time.

One day I borrowed the company car (one of three) to explore around the town a little. I came upon a little white-haired old lady who was thumbing a ride. I picked her up and let her out downtown. Later when I went to the Nugget to play, I saw her furiously playing the slots as though her life depended on it. I spoke to her but she did not even hear me.


Tales but Local
Liberace played in the Indianapolis area many times and I played in the Orch. quite a few of those times.

The great Liberace was one of the rudest performers I ever played for in that he never said a word to the musicians, or if he did I sure did not hear it. Anything he had to say to us came thru his conductor a really nice fellow and I think he had a PhD in music.

Many performers have many different attitudes towards the band. Some were insulting and some even made comments during the performances. Some were extremely nice, considerate and showed their appreciation with gifts to the musicians.

My favorite show featured Richard Kiley in Man of La Mancha. I loved playing the music. I played a big trombone on that show and played a lot of pedal notes that produced kudos from other players.
(for those who don't have a clue, pedal notes are the lowest notes that one can play on the trombone)


Tales — A Local Nightclub
There used to be a nightclub in Indianapolis called “The Embers.” The band that I used to play in the most was led by Mr. Jim Edison, a superb leader, and arranger.

We played a week for Wayne Newton at the Embers. Most people don’t know that he had a brother who “played” electric bass. We lovingly called him “Fig.” This guy was usually so loaded that by the end of the evening he did not even know where he was. I used to threaten to unplug his bass!

Wayne used to call off tempos to start the next tune and he apparently thought it was funny to be really inconsistent with the tempos. There was one tune that involved Jim Edison on trumpet making a difficult entrance and he soon learned that he could expect the unexpected from Wayne.


Tales — At the State Fair
There used to be a drummer here in Indianapolis who was notorious for his extreme, on the edge sense of humor.

We were rehearsing for a show that night at the Indiana State Fair Coliseum with Tenn. Ernie Ford. We were working on a song which I think was Mule Train. Ernie wanted to make it funny so he wanted to have the drummer use something else than the usual apparatus to imitate the mule-skinner’s whip sound. Ernie and the drummer decided to use a toilet seat complete with handles to make the sound. That was not such a good idea because that night during the show when the whip sound was supposed to occur, George Frieje stood up and put the toilet seat over his head and then lost his balance and knocked over his cymbals! Screeching halt and Ernie said: “Everybody wants to get into the act!”


Tales of the Road (local)
Paul Anka was the performer we were playing for at the Starlight Musicals in Indianapolis.

This guy is without a doubt the most arrogant, supercilious and insulting so-called “star” that I ever performed with.

His conductor was a close second in the same traits.

They had a black barrier built around the band so that the audience could hardly see us.

During one show Anka stopped and accused the band of being “lost.” I was not aware of any problem.

The next night at the beginning of the concert, Anka made the comment to his conductor to be sure that the band knows where they are. The Mexicans have a word for that kind of           and it is Pendejo. That is about the worst thing that you can call someone in Spanish. It means the anal accretions that build up when it has been a long time between baths and there has been a shortage of T.P.

I hope nobody is offended by my crudeness but just thinking about Paul Anka brings it out in me.


Tales of the Road — Mathis in Florida
The Mathis entourage had been touring in the south and finally arrived in Florida. The weather back in Indiana was in full winter so when I called home to check on things I made a major faux pas by mentioning that it was not very warm in Florida and I had not been able to enjoy the pool!

My wife Pat replied “I hope you freeze your           off!” Then she hung up.


Tales of the Road — The MOST Difficult
A group of Indianapolis musicians traveled in a large van to Toledo U. to play with the Temptations. (I am reasonably sure that was their name). We got a quick clue of what to expect when we arrived at the stage in the auditorium. The music stands were the folding metal kind such as concert bands use to play Park concerts. Those are very flimsy, blow over with very little wind and hold at most a two-page piece of music. Then we saw the music — 3,4 or 5 pages long and full of red marks to indicate what to do such as if they bow then go here if they don’t then go there, etc. We really became suspicious when they gave us little pen lights to use during the concert.

So we did the rehearsal and then went out for a quick bite. When we returned the auditorium was beginning to fill up an hour and a half prior to the concert. By the time we changed clothes in the locker room and finally started to the stage the place was packed shoulder-to-shoulder and 99% black. They had to get the campus police to clear a lane for us to get to the stage and when we climbed up to it the crowd started booing. (I assume that it was because we were almost exclusively white. There was so much marijuana smoke in the air that it was hard to breathe. There were people climbing all over the stage and standing right behind our chairs. Then we found out real quick that the lights were going to be turned out and black lights were turned out because the singers outfits were fluorescent.

There was no place to put the pen lights and they would only have been in the way if there were.

I enlisted the help of a youngster standing behind me. I told him that I would point to where the music was going and that he should light that up for me. (He did a good job) What a struggle!!

When we finally finished the concert we had to get the police again to clear a lane to get back to the locker room. The latter was full of women who refused to go away as the stars were in another locker room accessed thru our locker room. We had no choice but to go ahead and change clothes and it was not really a problem because the women were only interested in the “stars.”

Next a business manager for the Temptations came to pay us. He had an attache case that was absolutely stuffed with money. He dug out bills small enough to give us our paltry pay and it was definitely not worth the effort we had to put forth to play the gig!


Tales of the Road — But, in a Local Site
The Embers Nightclub was in existence for too short a time. I really enjoyed playing there.

This is the most enjoyable week-long gig that I ever played. This was a trombone quartet plus rhythm section backing up the singer Barbara McNair. I was playing lead trombone and was leader of the group as well. This was the only time in my life that a trombone quartet played primary support for a performance. The entire week was a real pleasure and on completion of the final night Barbara came to me to thank me personally and planted a big kiss on my cheek. (I only regret that I cannot remember the other trombonists!)


Tales of the Road — But, Local Performance
The Orch. was hired to play for the Lisa Minnelli show at the Convention Center in Indianapolis.

We had rehearsal and received a clue as to what to expect by the fact that next to the bandstand were huge stacks of the largest speaker cabinets Ive ever seen. They were pointed almost to every compass point. I really was sorry not to have my ear plugs with me. When we finished the rehearsal we went back to the &ldauo;band” room where our cases and other personal items were. Upon entering the room we were astonished to see that there was a huge table full of several bottles of different liquors complete with setups, ice soft drinks and beer. This really stood out in our local history for demonstrating appreciation of the musicians! Of course we helped ourselves and made quite a dent in the supplies. Just about that time a young lady came in and was swearing up a storm about he wrong room! It turned out that in Lisa’s contract all this stuff was to be supplied for every concert. When this young lady turned the air blue we decided to really raid the supplies before she could return to move them. I of course did not touch spirits ! (wink wink)


Tales of the Road — With Warren Covington
Warren Covington was at least one of the first if not the first to “take over” The Tommy Dorsey band after the latter passed away.

A group of local musicians drove to Nashville TN to play at a country club for Warren.

A little background on Warren is called for: He was one of the cheapest people I have ever known. He makes Jack Benny look like a philanthropist!

This was one of those trips that seem to feature a chain of events that makes gray hair show up a lot quicker. We stopped to ask directions (I don’t remember why, perhaps a shortcut?). The filling station man who sauntered (isn’t that a very expressive word!) to attend our needs was one of the slowest in history. Jim Edison who was driving asked the man how far to Nashville. The man replied, “Well.............That...All..........Depends.” With some frustration Jim asked What do you mean? Reply: “How........Big........A.......Hurrry........ I'm......... In.”

We finally arrived in Nashville but then could not find the Country Club. We asked directions ——WRONG! We asked again.......completely different directions. Then Jim slammed on the brakes right in front of a car that was waiting for us to pass, he rushed up to the driver and demanded directions. SHAZAM! We arrived at the Country Club just before downbeat time. Someone started to ask Jim what happened when Jim cut him off with DON'T SAY A WORD!

During intermissions several guys went to the bar and signed chits for their drinks with Warren’s name. (Not I of course - Paul Pureheart)

At the end of the job Warren came flying up to us almost in apoplexy demanding who had been signing his name. HaHaHa we all replied!

I’ll bet you think this the end of the story — not so. We all had a terrific appetite but were only able to find a “greasy spoon” at that hour. Our fellow diners were of the regular late night ilk — the females had a pound of makeup and were advertising if you know what I mean.


Tales of the Road — Wayne Newton Again
This time we were playing a week with Wayne Newton at the Starlight Musicals theatre.

There was no Fig Newton this time.

Wayne had a traveling trumpet player with him and he was a @#%^&* idiot. His idea of playing well was to play as loud as possible and in so doing managed to spit all over the guys in front of him.

Not only did he blow the bell off the horn but he was amplified into the audience as well. I don't know how the people stood it. It was certainly painful for me. I brought my earplugs after the first night. And he thought he was doing something spectacular! I would have thought that Wayne would have had better musical judgement than that. It makes me wonder if somebody pressured him into it.


Tales of the Road with Warren Covington
Local musicians used to take trips to other locales to play for Warren Covington.

Warren was somewhat of a “Fop.”

We were in a motel room preparing to go to the bandstand for either a show or a dance. Warren was wearing a white dinner jacket with a highly frilled white shirt and a faux fur bowtie including two little light bulbs. Tom Hensley was quite a prankster in those days so he was prepared when Warren showed up in this outfit. He had a fountain pen and he used it to splash ink right across Warrens white clothes.

Warren started to curse up a storm when all of a sudden the ink faded out completely. (he still did not like it as he saw it as disrespect).

Tom Hensley has been Neil Diamond’s pianist and arranger for quite a few years now, I believe since 1976. I have included Tom’s current picture.


Picture of Warren Covington

Tales of the Road — The Prankster Strikes at the Embers
We were about to start rehearsal at the Embers. (I don't remember who we were playing for). In walks the Prankster alias Tom Hensley.

He has a rubber chicken in his pants and his zipper was open.

People were still having a late lunch as he strolled thru the nightclub.

You never saw so many heads spinning in shock!

That night as we were playing Tom put his rubber chicken in the piano and closed the lid on it’s neck.


Tales of the Road — With Mathis in Nashville
Sometime betwee 1975 and 1979.

As part of a two-week tour, the Mathis entourage played at Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. The Opry was pretty new at that time. Landscaping was beautiful, buildings were very nice, impressive.

BUT when the orchestra went on stage they had the same old beat-up music stands with lights taped together and the “gelatins” broken and pieced together. (gelatins are colored pieces of ? perhaps plastic that were taped over the lights) To me that exemplifies the poor attitude so many have regarding the musicians. (non-star types) I ran into that same attitude when playing at the Embers, when we were not playing we were supposed to disappear.


Tales of the Road — Peabody Hotel
Sometime during 1955. The Tony Pastor band was playing at the Peabody Hotel for about a week. You have probably seen TV shots of the ducks coming down from the roof in the elevator and then waddling to the lobby fountain for aquatic pleasure.

We played dances up on the roof where it was really HOT and nobody was allowed to take their jackets off. The ladies were lucky that they could wear their thin, light, frilly dresses. The next mornings we had to scramble to play for a lunch in the dining room.

We stayed at a cheaper hotel right across the street and usually had our meals in their cafe.

I used to go up to the roof to practice and look at the scenery — very beautiful. I took a picture of my trombone on a metal table that was used for the evening dances. I still have the picture some where — it shows the edge of the roof and behind that the river and so forth.


Tales of the Road — Cleveland
Warren Covington band were to play in Cleveland Heights.

Bob Smith, who had the music, and I plus my wife Pat drove up from Indianapolis.

We had not realized that Cleveland was an hour ahead of us and on the way Bob’s car broke down. We arrived at the job very late and the band had had to “fake” music until we arrived and distributed the music. The people were very gracious and treated Pat extremely well. I went out and thanked them personally after the dance.


Tales of the Road — By Air
When I received my private pilot’s license I got the bright (foolish) idea that I could fly to some of the gigs that were not such a great drive from Indianapolis. My airport was only a mile from my house so I could get a bite of supper then proceed to the airport and enjoy a nice flight to places such as Ft. Wayne, Columbus Ohio and so forth.

I flew to Ft. Wayne to play a rare Sunday night gig with Johnny Mathis. I parked the plane at the muni. airport and took a taxi to the gig. The performance went very well as usual but afterwards the trouble started. I could not get a taxi for an hour and a half. Finally I got to the Airport, put my stuff in the plane and fired it up for the trip home. Curses!! the red warning light on thepanel indicated an electrical fault. I took out the manual to check on possible causes and procedures to correct them. I tried repeatedly to get that blasted red light to go out but to no avail. I then went to the airport proper which was closed. I then called home and got dear wife out of bed at a very late hour. She and my oldest boy (a teenager at the time) jumped in the car and drove up to Ft. Wayne to pick me up. Fortunately they were able to drive right to the airport. We drove home where I showered, had breakfast and went to work.


Tales of the Road — By Air (Big Problems)
The Al Cobine orch. was to play for a Tom Jones concert in Columbus Ohio. It was either in late Fall or early Spring. I was planning to fly to Columbus but I was watching the weather forecasts all day long. (there is a special phone number for pilots that gives a lot more info. than a traditional forecast) As the day went along the forecast was worse and worse. At any rate I finally did something smart. I decided not to fly! Pat and I jumped in the car and took off as though we were flying. During the trip we experienced rain, sleet and snow and then back to rain again. We arrived in Columbus and then had to hunt for the performance venue. When we arrived at the concert hall Pat rushed to get a ticket and I rushed to get into my suit, get my horn out and climb on stage with the other folks. That was just too close! That is the sort of thing that makes the Orch. leader get more white hair. I realized that just because one can get to the airport with ease does not mean that the same will be true at the destination. I never tried to fly to a gig again.


Tales of the Road — On Tour with the Symphony
This tale could have been sub-titled “An Introduction to Arrogance.”

My good friend, Jim Beckel, the principal trombonist with the Indianapolis Symphony was responsible for my participation.

We were presenting Berlioz Requiem. During several rehearsals and then concerts at Clowes Hall, the Kennedy Center in D.C. and Carnegie Hall in N.Y.; I was associating with the members of the Symphony as well as other supplementary musicians such as myself.

A little more info. regarding the physical position of the groups within the symphony is called for. This Requiem calls for four small brass groups to be located at four different locations during the concerts.

There was one group in an upper balcony on each side of the hall and the same arrangement at the floor level. This was an antiphonal situation in that the individual groups were not playing together but rather in an “echo” or “call and response.” (it was more than that but this explanation gives the idea to readers unfamiliar with the B. Requiem)

I was and am grateful for being allowed to experience this opportunity. However, the degree of arrogance and Prima Donna attitudes in the Symphony made a deep and negative impression on me.

Whenever possible I took my wife Pat with me or made arrangements for her to travel separately. Also, when appropriate, we paid admission to all the venues. The Symphony personnel manager seemed to have almost a vendetta against me. He constantly told me that Pat could not travel with us and I replied O.K. fine. As he continued to hit me with these warnings I replied “I did not ask for her to do that.” Finally in N.Y. he told me that Carnegie was Sold Out and that she would not be allowed to attend. It really hurt me to have to tell her that and it brought tears for her to hear it. Needless to say that I never performed with the Symphony again, nor was I asked to.


p.s. I should have verified that he told the truth about Sold Out!

Tales of the Road — The Beginning
I was stationed with an Air Force band in Fairborn Ohio (between Dayton and Springfield). I was 20 years old and really green as grass.

The Air Force in all its infinite wisdom came up with the brilliant idea that the WP band should fly down to Tinker AF base in Oklahoma. The purpose was to merge with their band in order to play for the retirement ceremony for a 3-star general. We arrived, we did the deed, and then the trouble started. I am sure that everybody knows what Ok. is famous for — tornado. We were stuck in the transient barracks for a whole week with only the uniform that we wore. As I recall there were some 29 twisters that came thru the area but did not touch the surface. We were really chomping at the bit to get home and finally the decision to take off was made. However we could not fly directly between the two bases. We had to take a long detour down into Texas. We had to land at a SAC base for fuel, both for the plane and for us. Since it was a Strategic Air Command we had to move between a double line of AP (like the famous MPs) to get to the mess hall. We finally made it back to WP and smelled pretty bad too!


Tales of the Road — Leaving the Pastor Band
During the year that I traveled with the band I saw the handwriting on the wall. When I started we were travelling about 100 to 150 miles between one-night stands. The mileage kept increasing so that a year later we traveling a ridiculous distance between gigs. That’s when I gave notice.

Six months later, on New Years Eve, the car in which I had been riding finished the gig and left to go to another. On the way they came across a rise in the highway and when they got to the top another car traveling on the wrong side of the road and full of drunks hit them head-on. All were killed. Had I not left the band I am sure I would have been in that car.!


Re: Tales of the Road — The Beginning
I might as well talk about my own AF experience at that same AF Base.

This happened in 1969. I was stationed at Barksdale AFB, Shreveport, Louisiana. We had to do a run-out to Tinker AFB to celebrate some 10,000 hours of accident free flying (or some such big deal — don’t remember nor care). It was in late October or early November at Barksdale AFB, but the temp was still in the high 70’s to the mid 80’s. We had to fly up there in a Globe Master (the cargo plane that opened up in the front and wasn’t supposed to fly when they first built it!). You could play a basketball game inside that plane, it was so big.

Now the fun started. The Director of Information (some 1st Lt.) thought up all these show-biz ideas in order to get great camera angles for the local and national news. He placed cameras all around the plane. When we landed, we were given directions (read orders) to file up with horns ready to play and march down the ramp in the front of the plane. They wanted us to play as we descended down the ramp but our Cmdr. took one look at the slope of the ramp and killed that bright idea — we could barely walk down without falling off the ramp (it was extremely steep). Now remember I said we were from Barksdale AFB. When we left that day, it was 80 plus degrees. When we landed it was in the range of 13 degrees. As we stumbled off of the plane and formed up on the runway a funny thing happened — our horns (vales and slides) instantly froze. We were to march from the plane to the hanger playing some the National Emblem March. When we got the signal we played some initial notes so out of tune that our Cmdr. cut us off, stopped the cameras, and ordered everyone to repeat the whole thing starting from the plane. We tried to explain to him — the horns just won’t play — they are frozen. Being a violin player in a previous life with the AF Strolling Strings, this info. was not completely transferred to his brain. He didn’t get the idea until I handed my horn to him and asked him to move the slide.

So to end of this fiasco, we played that old chestnut march in a block formation in front of the hanger after blowing copious amounts of warm air thru the horns (the reed players had their own frozen hell to deal with). The tune was so pitiful, they moved everything inside the hanger and started the cameras again in that location.

This whole thing could have been avoided had Lt Fuzz just asked some questions and listened to some info. But far be it for an “Officer and Gentleman” listen to low-life scum on the details of playing music. You just turn the knob, right?

Just one of my more vivid memories of life protecting our shores through music. I also have another one about floating down a sewer ditch in Thailand with a cameraman from CBS or the “Cotton Bowl Parade.” The Viet Nam war wasn’t giving the military a great image back then, so national spots were really important for DoD.

I lasted 4 years in the AF Bands and then got out to get a degree in Accounting on the GI Bill. They actually asked me to re-up. Har-Har-Har

Jim Hicks

Tales of the Road — D.C.
In 1955 at the Casino Royale, Washington D.C.

We had been playing here for a week and it was the last night. The star of the next show, Andy Griffith, came in and visitied with us during intermission. He was very personable and I enjoyed talking with him.


Tales of the Road — Getting Ready
The AF band at Wright/Patterson was full of older guys from WWII. There were only seven of us that were below the rank of SGT. We happened to be the best musicians and the victims of the SGTs. When it was time to cut grass, pull weeds, wax the barracks etc. etc. we same seven had to do it all. One day at rehearsal when the WO had to be away, the 5 striper took over the band and decided to tune us up. When it was my turn I lipped the note down as much as possible. The SGT said “you are flat” so I pulled out my tuning slide as far as possible and played the note. The SGT said “that's better.”

For anyone who may not know it, when one pulls a tuning out it makes the note go FLATTER!


Tales of the Road — More Preparation
Once again a tale involving the W/P AF band.

The band room was across a grassy area from the band barracks where we lowly enlisted ranks slept.

There was another “Zebra” (code for higher SGT) named Ostrazinski who took great delight in waking us up for duty hours. In our barracks there was an old automobile horn mounted on the wall right above the stairway leading from the sleeping area to the lower floor. The Zebra would hit a button in the band room to blast us out of our racks with that @#%^&* auto. horn. So one night I stuffed a trumpet straight mute into the bell of the horn and wrapped several towels around the whole thing. The next morning the only sound that came out was a little muffled beep. Ostrazinskin came flying over raising hell about the lack of blast and asking who the hell had done that. Nobody would tell.


Tales of the Road — Big Red with the Circus
I had a bright red big beard in 1976 when we had a rehearsal for the circus. The regular schedule was rehearse on Wed. nite then one perf. on Thurs. and Fri. nights. The extreme work schedule came on Sat. when we had three shows.

Sunday we had two shows. When I got home I had to ice down my lip due to the effort required to do three shows. To me circus music is about as musical as kicking a tin can but a whole lot less fun. Getting back to the rehearsal — there was a lady trombone player next to me and at the end of rehearsal the conductor said “Ive never seen a better looking trombone player.” Right away quick I said “Aw its just the beard!


Tales of the Road — Back with the Circus (2nd Try)
As I said previously, the circus was a reail lip buster (kind of rough on the back also from deep breathing . So it was only logical that I needed anesthetic for my beat up lip.

Now at this particular circus they had spread yellow sawdust all around the arena. I naturally assumed that there was this same layer of yellow sawdust under and at the back of the bandstand (never assume).

From time to time during the performance I applied lip medicine to my lip and tongue, Russian medicine that is. In due time the bottle became empty and I decided to drop it into the sawdust behind the bandstand. So I waited till there was a heck of alot of noise going on and then dropped the bottle just as everything came to a screeching silence and nothing was to be heard except the crash of that bottle on bare concrete. My boss, Walt Jackson, looked directly at me and just shook his head in amazement and surprise that I was the culprit.


Tales of the Road — NYC
Sometime between Sept. 1954 - Sept 1955

The Pastor Orch. was playing at Roseland Ballroom in NYC.

The Cha-Cha was very popular, dancers were dancing in line and in a chain. We were there for a week and most of us were staying at the President Hotel. I took most of my meals in the hotel’s small lunchroom. Then the typical smart-mouth NYC cook, owner, dishwasher, etc. decided to deride my choices of food items. That was the last dime I spent with him.

I hated New York City. There was so much hostility, antimosity, etc. that whenever I have been there I could not wait to leave!

Here is an example — One day around noon as I was leaving the hotel, I passed thru the foyer there was a very heavy lady sitting on the floor begging people to help her. She was about 50 yrs old, weighed about 200 lbs. and was obviously very drunk. She was in tears but nobody would even give her more than a look of contempt. I could not help myself and in truth did not want to avoid helping her. It was very difficult to get her up from the floor and even more difficult to walk her to her apartment. Fortunately she knew where it was. As we were staggering along the sidewalk a group of sailors across the street began heckling me with the idea that I had gotten this unfortunate woman drunk for my own illicit purposes. I beckoned them to come help me with getting her back to her apartment. They just laughed at us.

When we arrived at her apartment building I sat her down on the front steps so she could recover enough to get to her apartment.

I am no hero but I just was not raised to treat people, especially a woman, like that.


Tales of the Road — SLC
In Salt Lake City.

My room-mate and my good friend from our days together in the W/P Airforce band were out driving around the beautiful mountains and terrain. Roger Hoagland was from West Virginia and was a real outdoorsman. He loved the trees and wildlife in the country areas wherever we were playing. (when possible).

I was not interested in all of that so I took my horn along and when we parked in a convenient area I practiced while Roger when roaming. After a short time a sheriff and several deputies pulled up and questioned me about what I was doing there and was there anyone else with me and where was he and did he have a gun!

They asked me the same questions over and over for probably 15 minutes and then left. They returned in about a half hour and started the questions all over again. When Roger returned to the car they were apparently satisfied that his answers matched mine.

I never did find out why this happened — escaped convicts? Hunters violating posted areas?


Tales of the Road — Between Trips in NYC
Tony Pastor decided to take a break from the road for a week or two. (I don't remember after some 50 years have passed)

The band manager offered to pay my transportation costs roundtrip back home or to give me the same amount to pay for staying in NYC during the break.

I chose to stay. Two events occurred during this break.

A real coincidence was running across the drummer that I had known during basic training at Lackland AF base in San Antonio. Can you imagine amongst millions of people on the streets of NYC meeting completely by chance!

One of the guys on the band was from Brooklyn and he invited me to visit his home, visit Coney Island etc. George was still living with his parents and the visit to his home was a real surprise. It was kind of like a gypsy residence. (enough said) After visiting the sights he guided me to the right subway train to get back to my temporary apartment. On the train I was the only white guy among about 20 guys (NO females). A guy came up to me and he looked as though he had slept in the gutter — dirty, unkempt etc. He wanted to “borrow” a cigarette but I told him I did not smoke. He came back again and asked for a match with the same response from me. Then he came back and sat down next to me. (lots of other seats available) Finally he got to it by asking me (say Baby how would you like to have some fun?) I was not brave or stupid enough to respond as I would have liked but just said, “No thanks, I have already had my fun for the night.” So he went away.


Tales of the Road — Charlie’s Tavern
While in NYC I was introduced to Charlie’s Tavern. This place was famous among “road” musicians. If one stayed in the tavern long enough he would see almost every famous musician eventually.

Musicians used to have their mail delivered to Charlie’s where he would dutifully hold it until they came to pick up. The music was “our” music, the best in jazz played by the best performers.

I used to have a “Bock” beer and made it last until time to go to my apartment.


Tales of the Road — Saving Sibby
The Tony Pastor band traveled in three cars and one panel truck. We had large cars — Oldsmobile 98 — because with four people and all their luggage, suit bags, kits, etc. it was a real jig-saw puzzle to get all that stuff in the trunk. Quite often we had to take everything out of the trunk and start over to finally get the lid closed. The interiors were fairly crowded as well since quite a few of us were large folks. When pillows, and other stuff were included, it was fairly packed inside as well.

When we drove for hours we were glad of a stop for various needs such as restroom, food, gas, etc.

One day we were stopped for gas and Sibby (the Italian string bass player; him not the bass) stayed in the car due to his crippled legs. He was smoking on the opposite side of the car from the gas pumps and then tossed his cigarette out the window about 6 - 8 feet away from the car. I was standing on that same side and saw that whoever was filling the tank and run the gas over and it was flowing under the car in a concrete groove right towards that still burning cigarette. I rushed over and grabbed the cigarette and carried it to a trash can quite a ways from the car. We all raised hell with Sibby and with the guy who pumped too much gas!


Tales of the Road — Fighting
Tony hired a new female vocalist and it was a big mistake.

She was O.K. as a singer but was a nutcase. She had a little chihuahua who was nasty and a nuisance in the car. She was addicted to dexedrine and tried to get every heavy guy in the band to go to any local Dr. to get a prescription and fill it for her.

She and the drummer did not get along at all and one night an argument started between those two because the drummer fussed at her for not keeping his beat while she was playing the maracas. She blew a stack right in front of the dancers and threw the maracas at him. One of those hit his snare drum and flew up in the air. Of course that brought everything to a screeching halt. Tony called for a break and had some heated words for both of them.


Tales of the Road — More Fighting
Once again we were on the road in the vehicles. I was not in the car with the same female vocalist but in a car behind hers. We did not often travel in caravan procession and just happened to be behind the car where the fight started.

We did not know at first that a fight was going on though we did see the car suddenly start swerving, the brake lights slammed on suddenly and the car pulled to the side of the road where everybody piled out and continued yelling, screaming and watched George, the driver, taking swings and receiving them from the singer.

We got the details of her yelling at George for smoking and trying to take it out of his mouth. In that process the cigarette fell to the car seat and the little dog tried to bite George. So George’s first priority was to get the car stopped in order to find that cigarette. She was still yelling, swinging and encouraging the little dog to attack George. So we had to rotate passengers between the two cars.


Last Tale of the Road
In 1955, the second trombone player in the T. Pastor group was a young man named Gus Mancuso. Gus was a quiet studious and pleasant fellow who was a pleasure to work with and just to be around. The interesting thing about him was that whenever he got a chance he would be noodling around (messing) with a piano. He also got the bright idea to get a baritone horn and work up his ability to play ad lib jazz on it. I was there when he had the horn delivered to our gig in Cinn. O. Gus was an early pioneer in playing ad lib jazz on the baritone horn, and worked up quite a good reputation. After many years I learned that Gus was a fantastic piano player in Las Vegas where he was playing all the nightspots that featured jazz. He played regularly with Carl Fontana who died about a year or so ago.

That is quite an accomplishment. I only regret that I never heard either one of them “live” in Vegas.


One more — Tales of the Road
Sometime between 1954 - 1955
Yuma Arizona, Marine Air Base

The T.P. band played at many military facilities clubs: NCO, Off, Servicemen’s Clubs

We were in Yuma for about a week and I think we were put up at the Air Base (not sure).

While we were in Yuma one of the tenor sax players vanished for about three days. Of course he had been fired and replaced almost immediately after the first no-show. (I was always amazed at the rapidity with which anybody would be replaced.) This particular tenor sax chair had the most turnover of any in the band.

We found out later that Hank Solis had visited an Indian commune, community or whatever where he took part in a peyote-eating ceremony. He had been “out of it” for almost the entire time that he was gone. Hank was supposedly a mixture of Mexican and Indian descent. He was easy enough to get along with until he got drunk. When he was drunk he had the most vile, nasty mouth one could ever hear. He was ready to fight and would stay up for hours and hours cursing everyone in general. I don’t think any of us was sorry to see him leave. Incidentally, his replacement was as different as one could imagine, extremely religious, did not swear, did not drink and did not smoke. In addition he disapproved of others having extracurricular activity.


Some of the “famous” people that I met musically:
Some of the “famous” people that I met musically:

Barbara Striesand — Clowes Hall, she was just beginning to get a reputaion. When introduced to the Orch. on stage, she was dressed all in black leather. To my recollection, she did not say a word or even give a nod in response to the introduction.

Doc Severinson — The Tonight Show on tour, Jim Beckel (principal trombone in Indpls Symphony Orch) and I participated in rehearsal and show in Evansville, IN (when Doc pointed his horn towards us, I felt as though my ears were pinned back against the side of my head)

Jeff Chandler and Rhonda Fleming — during filming of a movie “short” at Universal Studio, Hollywood. (They came by to say Hello to Tony Pastor)

Florence Henderson — Starlights Musicals, Indpls. She was descending on a backstage staircase as I was ascending. She was obviously greatly offended that I had the gross nerve to share the staircase with her Highness!

Yul Brinner (sp?) — Starlights Musicals during a rain storm we all went up on stage where I chatted with Yul about his sore throat.

Jack Benny — Starlight Musicals during a rain storm, chatted about his picking up a previously discarded “horsehair” from his violin bow and putting it in his pocket. He said that he had actually done that at some time in the past and it got such a laugh that he kept it in his act.


Tales of the Road — Fond Memory
This is a story about another tour made with Al Cobine’s Orch. playing for Johnny Mathis.

The bus left the Bloomington/Indianapolis area enroute to Buffalo N.Y. but due to other obligations, I and Jim Edison were delayed and then flew to Buffalo later. When we arrived at the hotel, our good friend and excellent bass trombonist Tom Ringo was raving about the Four Freshmen who were appearing there at the time.

We continued the tour and finally made it to Cleveland where we played a week at the Front Row Theatre. This site had a unique stage in that it was built in a circular disk fashion with about half lower than the other half. The Orch. sat in the lower half and the performers did their thing on the raised half while the whole thing revolved very very slowly. (This was similar to the stage I described in the Greatest Bands of the Century in NYC, except that was manually controlled).

Pat rented a car and left Plainfield in a winter storm to get to the Indpls airport for a flight to Cleveland. Jim’s wife June had driven their car to our hotel and so I was able to borrow it to pick Pat up at the airport. When she and I got back to the hotel I forgot to turn off the headlights so there was a dead battery to deal with before we could all drive home to Indpls together after the last show. (still snowing!)

Tom Ringo passed away not too long after this tour.


Tales of the Road — The Most Weird
We local musicians had the most weird recording date with Renato Pacini (The concertmaster for the Indpls Symphony at the time). This landmark event occurred in the radio studios of WIRE above the Indianapolis Star Newspaper.

We began rehearsing the tunes all of which were in the nature of questioning titles such as: I Don't Know Why, Who Cares?, Why Do I Love You? Where Or When, Who’s Sorry Now? etc. After we’d rehearsed the charts and were ready to record them, someone made a loud and official sounding proclamation, “We Now Proudly Present The Next Vocal Star of America, ‘MR. WHO!’” With that, the studio door was flung open and in leaped a man in a stunning, black tuxedo with a bright red satin hood, cape and cummerbund to match. When he tried to record the first tune, he sang really out of tune and forgot some of the lyrics. It was horrible and we had to to do many takes trying to get just one good song on the tape even after going into over-time. Mr. Who was about to die from the heat of wearing the full tuxedo and the confining hood; he was sweating profusely and was slobbering from the hole cut out for his mouth in the hood and it was getting all wet and messy.

We all had to sign a secrecy contract because Mr. Who’s identity would eventually be unveiled on national TV on Ed Sullivan’s Sunday night show AFTER Mr. Who had achieved world-wide fame from the sale of millions of the records that we were recording ? That’s when we were all informed that we would go along to New York to accompany Mr. Who on the Sullivan TV Show. Truly one of the most memorable gigs of my entire musical career. It was a riot!! Later I received a copy of the recording — a 45 RPM disc. I am not sure but I think I never got paid!


p.s. I had to call upon Mr. Jim Edison’s memory to fill out some of the details that I had forgotten.

We local musicians were hired to play for a Beer distributor to play a “country concert” at a large arena (Market Sq. or the Coliseum?) As I recall Barbara Mandrell and sister played, we played for Ray Price and the blind piano player, Ronny Milsap as well as a bunch of other “country” stars. I seem to remember that Billy Carter was there and someone said (loud enough to be heard over the loudspeakers) don't let him get near the mike, he’s loaded. It was somewhat like a vaudeville performance in that each performer waited his/her turn and the spotlights indicated who was up as well as an announcement. The acts were lined up right next to each other with four or five on one side facing the audience and the same on the other side etc.

I believe that our leader, Jim Edison had to sue to get the money from that jerk and after the suit Jim lost money but did get enough to pay the musicians.

I was in San Francisco with the Shrine Musicmen about a year later when I saw the Ray Price conductor having breakfast in the hotel dining room. I went over and chatted with him and told him the story about having to sue to get paid and he said that they never got paid at all!


Tales of the Road — Casino Royale
We were playing at the Casino Royale nightclub in Washington, D.C. when the actor Mickey Shaughnessy visited to say hello to Tony Pastor. He invited the entire band to attend a private showing of a movie that he had just made. It was some kind of space movie in which he had a minor role. Anyway he was proud of it and wanted to show it off to us. We did attend and enjoyed the movie. However, we found out several months later that he had not paid the theatre for that private viewing.

Mickey was the candy-munching supply Sergeant in the movie “From Here to Eternity.”


A Tale for Those in Indpls
This tale is directed to those who may remember Hooks Drugstores.

We local musicians (and a small group at that) were hired to rehearse and record a piece of marching band music. The basic premise of the recording was that we were to imitate the sound of a marching band approaching a listener alongside the parade route and then passing him/her. So we had to sound soft then louder and louder then softer and softer as the band finished the parade. This was used in a Hooks Drugstores TV commercial where our music was heard but an actual marching band dressed in green and white uniforms was seen.

To me the funny thing was that I saw the commercial many times and did not pay any attention to the music until one time I was NOT watching the TV but heard and recognized the music as our recording. Amazing how one’s mind can so strongly shut out a commercial!


Tales of the Road — one more
Sometime during 1954 or 1955.

The Tony Pastor band was playing for a “fair” in Brockton, Mass. We were to back up Pat Boone. There were no separate dressing rooms so we had to share with Pat Boone. Somehow I was the last to change clothes and it happened that he was there also. He did not speak to me or look at me or pay any attention to me whatsoever. It was obvious that he was “put out” by this disrespect of no private room!

Tales of the Road — One more Once
The T.P. band was playing “one-nighters” in Texas. We were playing at a really plush Country Club in or near Dallas. Tony struck up a friendship with one of the members. By the end of the evening this new acquaintance invited the whole band for an afternoon on his “yacht.” Of course the waterway was a large lake and the boat was big enough for fifteen of us plus our host and his wife or ladyfriend (not sure which). We had a great time with really good food and abundant drinks. To bad that we had to jump in the vehicles to make a quick trip to the next gig.


Tales of the Road — Guests of the Air Force
On the road in the south during the SUMMER!

We were to play at the Keesler Air Force base in Miss. After having driven most of the night after the previous gig we arrived about noon. Needless to say it was really hot as blazes and our hosts put us up in a base Visiting Officers quarters. There was no air conditioning and even though I was very tired I just could not sleep in the bed. Since the floor was tile I took a pillow and stretched out on the cooler floor and managed to nod off!

p.s. most of the time when we stayed at a hotel we paid a King's ransom of $5 per room.


Tales of the Road — Shameless Hussies
On the road with Al Cobine Orch. playing for Johnnie Mathis.

Time after time when we finished a concert and started boarding the bus, several women would flock around the bus and sometimes even climbed on board to ask what hotel, what room Johnny was staying in. Of course we were not informed as to that info.

Tales of the Road — Liberace
Playing for Liberace at the Starlight Musicals in Indianapolis.

I mentioned in previous “Tales” that I played for him many times in various venues and not once did I ever hear him say a single word to the band. On this particular occasion, his “friend” stood back-stage during the performances. And one could not help noticing him because he was obviously dressed “to-the-nines!” I would guess that his attire was the most expensive that I have ever seen. I guess that his shoes were imported Italian. His hair was probably styled at least once a week and he most likely had a maicure at the same time. His trousers had a crease sharp enough to cut a piece of paper. Everything was just perfect. I would guess that his age was probably between 25-30 and that he was probably Italian.

Perhaps I was wrong in assuming that he was a “kept man?”


Tales of the Road — Local
Playing a rehearsal at the Starlight Musicals with Harry Belafonte. Sometime in the 70s?

We were rehearsing in the below-the-stage rehearsal area. Harry was accompanied by a group of female singers. The memorable part of the story is that the female singers were similar to a swarm of bees attracted to honey with Harry as the honey. It reminded me of a preliminary to a bacchanalian to follow! One of the bees did stray into the orchestra during the following week. My musician friends will remember who the attraction was!


Tales of the Road — The Prelude
Sometime during 1953-54 while I was stationed with the Air Force band at Wright/Patterson near Dayton Ohio, the band was tasked with playing on the Flight Line for incoming Generals. We had to stand for what seemed to be hours in a blowing cold windy rainstorm. These “important” officers were arriving from all over. (I think some were coming in from South America) We had to stand there because plane after plane carried only one General and there was not time enough to “stand down” somewhere out of the weather. Of course we were wearing our Class A uniforms and perhaps raincoats, perhaps not.

When we finally finished the task and moved into shelter the Four-star commanding general of the “Command” (consisting of about five different AF bases) came and thanked us — saying it was an important event!

I was 20 yrs old at the time.


Tales of the Road — Part of the Prelude
One day during my assignment to the Wright/Patterson AF band near Dayton, this silly kid was standing “at-ease” on the Flight line.

Suffering from acute boredom while standing next to the bass trombone player and while he was not looking, I placed a golf tee in his mouthpiece (it was a perfect fit). When it was time to play he still had not noticed and after his attempt to play the first note, he turned slightly and called me a SOB!


Tales of the Road — But Local
We were playing for the Glen Campbell show at Starlight Musicals (unable to place a date on this). The shows were all one-week events. On or about the second or third night, Glen read to the audience a review from the Indianapolis newspaper. As part of the review a comment was made about Glen Campbell and his “itinerant” musicians. Glen asked in general “What does itinerant mean?” One of his traveling musicians answered “Ignorant.”

At least it yielded a big laugh!


Tales from the Musical Experience
There used to be a very active small all-black jazz band in the Indianapolis area. Most of the players were or had been music teachers in this area.

The trombone player has been a good friend to me even when I was in HS and learning to play jazz. He has had extensive experience in many different groups and is a fine player.

Whenever Reggie was unable to make the gig with Larry’s band he asked me to sub for him. One night I was working with band at Stouffers hotel and during intermission Larry told me that he had received a note from someone in the audience asking “why have you integrated your band?”


A Tale from another Musical Experience
I played in Jim Edison’s band for a Bar Mitzvah at the Stouffers Hotel in Indianapolis. It was really quite a celebration which included a catered dinner and a room with nothing but pastries. We played Hava Nagila ad infinitum (not sure of the spelling on any of this). During the intermission I passed the pastry room where I saw the young man who was the center of all this, taking one bite from the top of each pastry. When he saw me it did not make any difference, he just kept going!


Another Tale!
Quite a few years ago we were playing at the baseball stadium on 16th Street. (Victory Field?) (My son was with me, he was about 10 yrs old and now he is 52)

We were playing during the early careers of Sonny & Cher for a pre-500 mile race performance which included the Dizzy Gilespie group and the Hugh Masakela combo prior to Sonny and Cher.

The latter were relatively unknown at the time and the bookers were finally out on the street inviting people to a FREE concert.

HUGH MASAKELA was introduced as a famous jazz trumpet player. I was appalled at the sloppy playing, cracked notes, and terrible technique of this so-called Jazz Artist. I never expected to even hear of him again.

Lo and behold here he is featured during interim fillers from the World Soccer Cup from South Africa. He is escorting his American-born son, Sal Masakela to the various scenes of “Apartheid” abuse and complete domination of the natives there.

Of course Hugh is introduced as the World famous jazz trumpeter!


On the Road (by air)
The TP orch. flew to Fairbanks Alaska to perform over a period of two weeks or so.

The Air Force put us up in a barracks for visitors. They hired entertainers for various periods of time, some up to six months.

We played at Officers Club, NCO club, Servicemen’s club and even played in town at a log cabing “nightclub.”

While we were there an article appeared in the local newspaper about an eskimo woman who, having learned that her AF boyfriend was cheating on her, carved him to pieces.

The AF base (Ladd AF base I think?) featured huge tunnels completely constructed of concrete and linking everything; i.e. mess halls, BX, gyms, etc. etc. There were big dial thermometers at various locations and they read temps. down to -60 degrees or more?

We visited a former Russian NCO club and “hot hangars” where air crews per constantly on duty ready to take off in a few minutes or seconds. The hangars were open on opposing ends linking directly to flight lanes. The engines were kept hot by huge “pipes” blowing hot air on them all the time. The tires were embedded with wire in wire coils and after just a very few takeoffs and landings had to be replaced. The distance from the AF base to Russian territory was about 660 nautical miles!

On the Road with T.P. in Boston
Not sure if we were just passing thru or if we played somewhere.

The other trombonist was a fellow by the name of Milt Rudy and he had taken lessons with the famous trombonist and teacher — John Coffee.

Milt and I stopped in to see Mr. Coffee and we chatted a little bit. I saw the bass trombone that he used and it was a monster! I asked if I could play it and he was kind enough to grant the request. I have always had an ability to play Pedal notes pretty strongly and so I thought that I would impress him by doing so on his horn. I took in a chestful of air and THOUGHT it would be earth shattering. HA! It was more like a cat sneeze!

It literally let the air out of my expectations.

My replacement on the T.P. band

When I decided to leave the band (miles between gigs had gone from 200 or so to 500 or so) my replacement was Phil Arcuri. I think he graduated from Eastman. He was an excellent player and very good on ad lib (spontaneous creation of a solo). I returned to Indianapolis and began going to college.

Imagine my surprise when Phil came to Indianapolis and secured a position with the Indianapolis Symphony! We played quite a few gigs together. Unfortunately Phil later was afflicted with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig disease).

A Couple of “Tales”
The T.P. band was playing in the area of Ft. Myers Florida for about a week so we lodged at a motel right off a little bay. Everyday I went out in a rowboat and had a ball, especially when I had to fight the tide! After a few days of doing this I got the worse laryngitis of my life and could barely talk. When I did succeed I sounded like basso-profundo!

On the Road in Texas

When the T.P. band played in Corpus Christi, TX we used to go to a nearby bar where one could get a huge bowl of boiled shrimp and a mug of beer for about a dollar.

I never particularly liked beer but it went down with shrimp and self-made cocktail sauce very well!


Another Tale (later in Life)
In San Francisco with the Murat Shrine Danceband

This trip enabled Pat & I to have a nice vacation. We were able to take a quick trip by train and bus to Yosemite.

We also saw some of the “seamy” side of Frisco. While strolling in the hotel area, I was accosted by a fairly young man asking for money. I gave him some and went on our way. Later I saw him and another youngster sitting on a curb sharing a bottle of cough medicine.

The day we were to leave I was looking out the window of our room and noticed that down below there was an old woman and (perhaps) her young grandson sleeping on a mattress in an alley behind a business building. As I was standing there gaping in amazement, the lad got up and went to an area behind the bldg. to relieve himself!

What is it that they used to say “Go Figure”


Leaving the Road
When I decided to leave the Pastor band, Tony Pastor was kind enough to call Buddy Morrow about my filling a position with him. I then called Buddy myself.

After questioning me some, I was offered the job and told the details to accept it. However, after giving it more consideration I called Buddy back and declined the offer. I would not have been able to go with that band because I was not a member of the Musicians Local 802 in New York. It was very difficult to join that Union (at least at that time). One had to live in N.Y. for six months and be able to prove it! The Union Officer that has the responsibility actually makes surprise visits to one’s address to be sure.


On the Road with Tony Pastor
The band participated in the Violet festival in Spokane, Washington (doutful that this still goes on there) as part of our tour of the northern areas of the U.S. We played as “back-up” band for the musical events such as Carmen Cavallaro (concert pianist).

Peggy Lee and her group performed and I was very pleased to be on the bandstand behind her, thoroughly enjoying their performance.


On the Road with Tony Pastor
This picture was taken just one month after I joined the Tony Pastor road band. The blond trumpet player on the far end of the trumpet section is my long-time friend Roger Hoagland. We were in the Air Force band at Wright-Patterson near Dayton OH before goint on the road. I sure wish I still had hair like I did back then!

Best to all,


Picture of Tony Pastor Orchestra