|MUSICAL FAMILY BIOS
A WHOLE NEW PAGE OF MUSIC
|MAHLON CLARK featured saxophone, clarinet and flutist was born March 7, 1923 in Portsmouth, VA. He moved out to Los Angeles with his first wife, big band vocalist Imogene Lynn in 1942 and soon found work with the Tex Beneke and Bob Crosby bands. Mahlon joined the music makers in 1962 and played in the reed section until his departure in 1968, and since has played for notable and diverse artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Madonna, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. Once married to Kathy Lennon from 1967 to 1979, he passed away from natural causes on September 20, 2007 at his home in Van Nuys, CA aged 84.
ALICE LON Champagne Lady from 1953 to 1959 was born in Kilgore, TX on November 23, 1926. She began singing professionally at age six and by the time she was ten, had her own radio show on station KOAL in Shreveport, LA. She attended Kilgore Junior College and later became one of the original Kilgore Rangerettes. Alice became Champagne Lady in 1953 when Roberta Linn left and soon became popular with audiences, first locally on KTLA and nationally on the ABC network when the Welk show aired coast-to-coast on July 2, 1955. Her trademark petticoats also became popular, as well as her singing and acting skills. She was married twice, first to football player Bob Waterman where the union produced three sons, and later to George Bowlings. After a long battle with scleroderma, she died on April 24, 1981 at the age of 54.
LARRY DEAN vocalist was born in Bridgewater, Iowa on June 4, 1936. After graduating from high school when he was only 16, he sang with the Ray Palmer band throughout his native Hawkeye State and later took time to study at the McPhail School of Music in Minneapolis, MN. Prior to joining Lawrence Welk's Champagne Music Makers in 1956, he sang with the Jimmy Palmer and Jules Herman bands and was the featured male vocalist for Jan Garber's band as well. Until his departure in 1962, he was one of the show's popular solo vocalists and often sang duets with Dianne Lennon. He still makes his home in the Los Angeles area today.
BIG TINY LITTLE, JR. honky tonk pianist was born in Worthington, MN on August 31, 1930. He first took up the piano at age five and played with his father's popular band until striking out on his own. He was the Maestro's first honky-tonk pianist from 1955 to 1959 when he was replaced by Jo Ann Castle. Since then, he has recorded several solo albums and has continued to perform live, and played at President Ronald Reagan's inaugural ball in 1985. He's also played with the Live Lawrence Welk Show tour from 2004 to 2006. He passed way at his home in Sparks, NV on March 3, 2010 at the age of 79.
PEANUTS HUCKO (born Michael Andrew Hucko) clarinet and reeds player was born in Syracuse, NY on April 7, 1918. Prior to joining the Welk orchestra in 1970, he was an experienced and popular big band musician who played for the legendary Glenn Miller during World War II, and also played for Benny Goodman, Jack Teagarden, Ray Condon and Ray McKinley. After playing for the Maestro for two years, he went on to led the Glenn Miller orchestra which toured the US and abroad and later continued touring and recording into the 1990s with his Pied Piper Quintet. Married to singer Louise Tobin, he died in 2003 at his home in Fort Worth, TX after a lengthy illness.
DICK KESNER violinist and concertmaster was born in Sioux City, Iowa on October 26, 1912. With an impressive background including a three-year scholarship to the American Conservatory of Music, Dick performed with both the San Francisco and Chicago Symphonies, plus a stint with the Freddy Martin band and with the ABC network's orchestra before joining the Champagne Music Makers in 1953. During the show's early years on television, Dick's violin solos were very popular with audiences and he also recorded several solo albums of his musical works. After leaving the Welk organization in 1960, he continued performing until his untimely death from an auto accident in Reseda, CA on January 8, 1962.
PETE LOFTHOUSE trombone player from 1953 to 1965 was born in Toronto, Ontario in Canada on January 27, 1919. When he was five, Pete started out taking piano lessons until the age of 13 when he received a Sears-Roebuck trombone for Christmas...and from that point on, playing the trombone would be his career. After receiving his education at both Los Angeles Junior College and Pasadena College (intending on being a minister), he became a professional musician starting out with the Ben Pollack Orchestra which was followed by a succession of other bands and stints with the Mutual Broadcasting System's orchestra and the CBS staff orchestra and later Phil Harris' band before joining Lawrence Welk. He passed on at the age of 55 on July 15, 1974.
BUDDY HAYES bass and tuba player was born Theodore Harmond Hayes in Weston, West Virginia on August 1, 1916. His parents were both musically talented as well as his ten brothers and sisters. Starting at the age of four, he toured with his family's band playing vaudeville and tent shows. After serving in the Army during World War II, he studied his craft as bassist and tuba player under Professor Herman Reinshagen and later toured with other bands before joining the Welk Orchestra in 1954. Until his departure in 1966, he was a mainstay in the rhythm section and also demonstrated his singing and comic talents, which he learned from his days in vaudeville. In his spare time, Buddy enjoyed collecting old string basses and restoring them to their original condition...and even after leaving the show, relocating to Coos Bay, Oregon...continued to perform live. He passed on after a short illness on April 26, 1997.
BILLY WRIGHT violinist was born in Oklahoma City, OK on February 13, 1917. First taking up the violin at a young age, he attended the University of Oklahoma (Boomer Sooner!) where he played in the symphony and became a concert master. "Smiling Billy" as he was known, left for California in the 1940s to play for Bob Wills and later Spade Cooley. He joined the Welk Orchestra in 1955, the same year the Maestro's show debuted on national television and for the next six years was part of TV's most popular string section which included Aladdin, Dick Kesner, Bob Lido, Kurt Dietrle and Jimmy Getzhoff just to name a few. Due to illness, Billy left the show in 1961 and passed on in 1975. He was the father of two children.
JACK MARTIN saxophonist and reeds player was born in Nelsonville, OH on March 11, 1916. He started playing the sax at an early age bit originally wanted to pursue a career in advertising, but growing up in the Great Depression of the 1930s, that profession was not very financially viable but being a musician was. While attending Ohio University in Athens, he went out on the road as a professional which led to stints with the Tommy Christian, Charlie Barnett, Ted Lewis, Meredith Wilson, Charlie Hoff and Kay Kyser bands. Also for a while, he operated his own business....selling furniture and antiques. He joined the Welk band in 1955 and stayed on until 1958, and during his tenure....he not only was an excellent saxophonist but also demonstrated his singing and comedic skills known for "stealing the show". He passed away on January 30, 1981.
|NOW LETS US ALL GO BACK HOME!|