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July 5, 2011

Not Snooki. Snooky.

Snooky Young played the trumpet and he recently passed at the age of 92.

Barely 20 and newly married, Young found himself playing lead trumpet. “They made me the first trumpet player,” he said. “And it worked. But I didn’t have that in mind myself, whatsoever.” Young’s success in the role made his name, as did his brilliant playing on the band’s hit recording of Uptown Blues and the ghosted solos he provided for the actor Jack Carson in the 1941 Warner Bros movie Blues in the Night.

After three years with Lunceford – and a dispute over pay – Young returned to Dayton but was soon back in the saddle with Basie, and then for a year with Lionel Hampton before playing in California with Les Hite and Benny Carter, Wilson alongside him in both bands. When the Johnny Carson Tonight Show relocated to Los Angeles, Young went with it and stayed, performing with the show’s orchestra under Severinsen, also taking weekend show jobs and concerts with Severinsen in Las Vegas.

Although profoundly deaf in his latter years, Young continued to play. “If he could see the chart, follow the leader and feel the vibes in a trumpet section, he could – and did – play,” said the writer Kirk Silsbee. Young summed up his career thus: “I enjoy playing all kinds of music. I’m proud of my reputation and happy when I get to play some jazz.”

I absolutely love this clip from the Tonight Show. Rest in peace Snooky.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 5, 2011 11:49 am

    Great Tonight Show clip! R.I.P. Snooky.

  2. jco permalink
    July 5, 2011 12:18 pm

    That’s awesome. Snooki can’t touch the original Snooky. RIP indeed.

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