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Buddy Childers

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Biography

During his decade-plus stint as the lead trumpeter in the legendary big bands of Stan Kenton, Buddy Childers was the indomitable warhorse anchoring some of the most progressive and physically demanding arrangements in all of jazz. Born Marion Childers in St. Louis on February 12, 1926, he began playing trumpet at 12. Within two years he was gigging as a professional musician, and his talent was so prodigious that he joined Kenton at just 16. Months later, when Kenton terminated the Artistry in Rhythm Orchestra's three other trumpeters, Childers immediately vaulted to the lead position, a role he would briefly relinquish in 1944 during an injury-shortened tenure in the U.S. Army. In all, Childers exited the Kenton lineup no fewer than eight times over his dozen-year tenure, no doubt a result of the extraordinary physical challenges of playing the band's music -- Kenton demanded that his trumpeters play so loud that many who passed through the orchestra's ranks passed out in the middle of performances, and Childers and bandmate Al Porcino regularly took the stage wearing abdominal supports. Each time Childers resigned, accepting positions with bandleaders from Tommy Dorsey to André Previn to Les Brown, within weeks he would inevitably return to the Kenton stable, in 1947 aptly renamed the Progressive Jazz Orchestra. By all accounts, their music reached its apex in 1950, Kenton mounting his most awe-inspiring spectacle to date, the 40-member Innovations in Modern Music Orchestra, adding horns and strings as well as introducing to the world immense talents like composers Bob Graettinger and Shorty Rogers as well as trumpeter Maynard Ferguson. Kenton dissolved the Innovations in Modern Music Orchestra in 1952 in favor of the more manageable 19-piece New Concepts of Artistry in Rhythm Orchestra -- two years later, Childers left the band for good, serving behind Georgie Auld and Charlie Barnet. After a stint as a Los Angeles freelancer, he settled in Las Vegas in 1959, remaining there for seven years. Upon returning to L.A. in 1966, Childers launched a long and successful career as a session player, and from 1983 on served as the musical director for Frank Sinatra, Jr. After a lengthy battle with cancer, Childers died in Los Angeles on May 24, 2007. ~ Jason Ankeny

Top Songs

Birth Name:

Marion Childers

Born:

12 February 1926 in St. Louis, MO

Genre
Years Active:

'40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Contemporaries