Brown, Les(ter Raymond)
- Marcello Piras
(b Reinerton, PA, March 14, 1912; d Los Angeles, CA, Jan 4, 2001). American clarinetist, saxophonist, bandleader, arranger, and songwriter. His father, an amateur musician, taught him to read music. He started performing at nine and was leading his Royal Serenaders at 14. He studied at Ithaca Conservatory (1926–9, teachers including Patrick Conway and Wallingford Riegger), New York Military Academy (1929–32), and Duke University (1932–6). At this last he led his Duke Blue Devils, who recorded in 1936–7. In 1938 he recruited a band, later called Les Brown and His Band of Renown, which flourished by 1941—mostly thanks to scores by Ben Homer (“Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio,” 50,000 records sold) and Frank Comstock—and was modeled after Jimmie Lunceford, and later after Count Basie. Trumpeter Billy Butterfield and reedman Abe Most were its most prominent soloists. Their biggest hit was “Sentimental Journey” (...