Remembering past bandleaders, musicians, arrangers and ballroom operators.


Aaronson, Irving
1895-1963

Los Angeles, March 11 – Irving Aaronson, 68, a musical director at M.G.M. studios for the last 20 years, died Sunday. Before joining M.G.M. he toured the country for many years with his band called Irving Aaronson and His Commanders.
[Source: Honolulu Star-Bulletin (Honolulu, Hawaii), dated March 11, 1963]

Irving Aaronson, MGM Musical Director, Dies
Held Post at Film Studios for 20 Years; Succumbs at 68 in W. Los Angeles Home
Irving Aaronson, 68, musical director at MGM studios for the past 20 years, died Sunday in his home, 9546 Monte Mar Dr., West Los Angeles. Mr. Aaronson had worked on such recent motion pictures as “Jumbo” and “Where the Boys Are.” At one time, he was an associate producer with Joe Pasternak.
Mr. Aaronson leaves his wife, Grayce; a daughter, Miss Bonnie F. Aaronson; three brothers, Harry, of Detroit, and Morris and Frank, New York, and two sisters, Mrs. Ida Hirschberg, Paterson, N.J., and Mrs. Jennie Kirschenbaum, New York.
Funeral services will be conducted at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Hillside Memorial Park under direction of Groman Mortuary.
[Source: Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California), dated March 11, 1963]

Archer, Thomas H.
Thomas H. Archer Rites Wednesday
Services for Thomas H. Archer, 68, former manager and owner of the Chermot Ballroom at Twenty-seventh and Farnam Streets, will be Wednesday in Des Moines, where he died Sunday after suffering a stroke Friday.
He was a past president of the National Ballroom Operators Association and operated ballrooms in Des Moines, Marion, Ia., and Sioux Falls, S.D.
In addition to the Chermot, which was gutted by fire in 1947, he at one time operated ballrooms in Sioux City, Ia., and St. Joseph, Mo.
[Source: Omaha World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), dated August 6, 1963]

Armstrong, Louis
1901-1971

Jazz “Cats” Will Assemble For Armstrong’s Funeral Rites
New York – “In New Orleans, I played at as many funerals as I could get,” Louis Armstrong said recently, wryly recalling his youth, “and cats died like flies, so I got a lot of nice gigs out of that.”
“It’s business,” continued the celebrated jazz trumpeter and singer. “They going to enjoy blowing over me, ain’t they? Cats will be coming from California and everywhere else just to play.”
Whether or not they play, the cats will assemble Friday to pay tribute to the man whose driving genius with a horn helped transform New Orleans street music into part of a global culture.
Armstrong died in his sleep Tuesday morning at his home in Queens. A family spokesman said that his heart, worn by age and the toll of kidney and liver ailments in recent years, simply gave out. He was 71 on Sunday.
Honorary pallbearers will include Duke Ellington, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Guy Lombardo, Dizzy Gillespie, Pearl Bailey, Count Basie, Harry James, Frank Sinatra, Ed Sullivan, Earl Wilson, Alan King, Johnny Carson, David Frost, Merv Griffin, Dick Cavett, Mayor John V. Lindsay and Gove. Nelson A. Rockefeller.
“If anyone was Mr. Jazz, it was Louis Armstrong,” commented Ellington, himself one of the giants of jazz. “He was the epitome of jazz and always will be. He is what I call an American standard, an American original.”
“He was an authentic genius,” said Crosby, who appeared with Armstrong in the movie “High Society.” “Anyone who traveled in Europe or other parts of the world was able to realize immediately just how widespread was his reputation and how beloved he was.”
President Nixon, in a statement, called Armstrong “one of the architects of an American art form, a free and independent spirit and an artist of world wide fame.”
“He could play a trumpet like nobody else,” said guitarist Eddie Condon, “then put it down and sing a song like no one else could.”
“To people around the world, Louis is jazz and jazz is New Orleans,” said Moon Landrieu, mayor of that city. “New Orleans has lost one of its own. We thank God for placing him within our midst.”
Daniel Louis Armstrong was born on the Fourth of July 1900. “My mother Mary Ann – we called her Mayann – was living in a two-room shack in James Alley, in the Back O’ Town colored section of New Orleans,” he said in a 1969 interview.
He started out singing for pennies in the town’s notorious Storyville brothel district. He learned how to play the cornet during a year’s incarceration in the New Orleans Waif’s Home.
With his horn and genius, he went up the river to Chicago where his playing in the 1920s helped shift the focus of jazz from ensemble improvisation to the brilliance of the soloist. Always the showman, Satchmo later left most of the high C’s for younger chops and found ever wider renown as the gravel-voiced singer of such popular hits as “Mack the Knife” and “Hello, Dolly!” He became one of the best ambassadors the United States ever sent roving abroad, explaining, “I play the trumpet in any language. If they understand it, that’s any language. A note’s a note in any language, and if you hit it – beautiful – they dig it.”
“I love my audience and they love me and we just have one good time whenever I get up on the stage. It’s such a lovely pleasure,” he said.
Armstrong is survived by his fourth wife, Lucille Wilson Armstrong, whom he married in 1942, and a sister and two half-brothers. Mrs. Armstrong requested the flowers and cards be omitted and said those wishing to do so, could send contributions in his memory to the Kidney Research Foundation and the Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation, which promotes research on a disease that mainly afflicts blacks.
[Source: Daily Advertiser (Lafayette, Louisiana), dated July 7, 1971]

Arnheim, Gus
Favorite Bandleader Gus Arnheim, 56, Dies
Beverly Hills, Cal. (AP) – Gus Arnheim, 56, once one of America’s favorite bandleaders and composers, died at his home Wednesday of a heart attack.
Bing Crosby, Russ Colombo, Shirley Ross and many other stars of the entertainment world appears with Mr. Arnheim’s orchestra.
Among his compositions were such hit tunes as “I Surrender, Dear,” “I Cried For You,” and “Sweet and Lovely.”
[Source: Omaha World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), dated January 20, 1955]

Auld, Georgie
1919-1990

Georgie Auld, 70; Self-Taught Saxophonist
By Burt A. Folkart
Georgie Auld, the volatile, bold Canadian saxophonist who first caught the nation’s attention with the bands of Bunny Berigan and Artie Shaw and then carved out a singular niche with the Benny Goodman sextet, died Monday at his Palm Springs home.
Auld, who briefly led his own band in the 1940s with a coterie of soloists that included Sarah Vaughn, Erroll Garner, Dizzy Gillespie and Billy Butterfield, was 70. He had been battling lung cancer for a year. Film director Daniel Mann, a longtime friend, said Auld was an unschooled, self-taught musician who didn’t read music, but was so skilled at his instrument that he could produce hard-swinging improvisations after hearing only piano chords.
One of Auld’s brothers, Barney, said Georgie Auld had been given a saxophone by their parents in their native Toronto where he was born John Altwerger. He taught himself to play and began to entertain guests in the family saloon. When only 6 or 7, he was receiving several dollars a week in tips and became convinced that he could earn a living as a musician. Altwerger, who later changed his name to Auld for stage purposes – formed a band in New York when he was 13 and then, while still in his teens, hooked up with Bunny Berigan in 1937. He joined Artie Shaw in 1938 and briefly led the group after Shaw disbanded it. (Years later, Shaw told author George T. Simon that he always considered Auld and drummer Buddy Rich the two most important sidemen who ever worked for him.)
In 1940, Auld joined Benny Goodman and the legendary Goodman sextet, playing alongside such jazz legends as Cootie Williams, Charlie Christian and Count Basie. Auld served in the Army in 1943 and formed his own band later that year. By 1948, Auld’s style had changed dramatically and he was performing what Simon called “brilliant and biting” solos with a 10-piece band he had formed in New York.
He also first appeared as an actor at that time in a Broadway play, “The Rat Race.” He of course played the saxophonist in the play about a musician and a dance-hall hostess. “The Rat Race” was later made into a movie starring Tony Curtis and Debbie Reynolds.
His second brush with things dramatic came nearly 30 years later when he taught Robert DeNiro how to hold and depress the keys on a sax and was also the principal soloist on the sound track of “New York, New York.” Additionally, Auld was seen in the 1977 picture as a bandleader. While appearing on Broadway, he opened a bar in New York City called George Auld’s Tin Pan Alley.
In the 1950s he opened another bar, the Melody Room in Hollywood, where he worked at night while recording at the studios. He became music director for Tony Martin, toured frequently in Japan and Europe and by 1975 had recorded nearly 20 albums.
[Source: Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California), dated January 11, 1990]

Ayres, Mitchell
Ayres Dies In Nevada Accident
Las Vegas, Nev. (AP) – Bandleader-composer Mitchell Ayres was killed a female violinist injured when they were struck by a car while walking across the street in the plush gambling district.
Police said Ayres, 59, of Encino, Calif., was dead on arrival at Sunrise Hospital about midnight Friday. Betty Phillips, 37, of Oakland, Calif., who played in his band, was in poor condition at Southern Nevada Memorial Hospital.
Ayres, a nationally known bandleader in the 1940s was musical director for singer Connie Stevens, who started an engagement Friday at the Landmark Hotel in Las Vegas.
[Source: Greensboro Daily News (Greensboro, North Carolina), dated September 7, 1969]

Mitchell Ayres, Composer, Killed
Las Vegas (AP) - Mitchell Ayres, bandleader and composer, was killed Friday night and a woman companion was seriously injured when they were struck by a car while crossing a street, police said yesterday.
Ayres, 59, of Encino, Calif., was dead on arrival at 11:23 p.m. Sunrise Hospital. His companion, Betty Phillips, 37, was in serious condition with chest injuries at Southern Nevada Memorial Hospital.
Police said the couple was struck by an auto driven by Tim E. Heaton, 22, Alhambra, Calif., as they crossed a street near the Riviera Hotel. No charges were filed against Heaton.
Ayres, a nationally known bandleader in the 1940s, has been a musical director for television shows and nightclub singers in recent years.
He worked for the Perry Como Show, and at the time of his death was musical director for singer Connie Stevens, now appearing at the Landmark Hotel in Las Vegas.
Ayres wrote several songs, including “I’m A Slave To You,” “He’s a Wolf,” “Scratchin’ the Surface,” and “Medeira.”
Funeral services were pending.
[Source: San Diego Union (San Diego, California), dated September 7, 1969]




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