Johnny Knorr

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John C. "Johnny" Knorr (born May 24, 1921 in Crissey, Ohio - August 29, 2011) was a musician and bandleader.

Early life and education[edit]

At the age of nine, Johnny was on the stage playing violin solos made popular by David Rubinoff. During his junior high school days, he performed as a violin soloist on programs with Helen O'Connell. At Libbey High School (Toledo, Ohio), he was featured as a violin soloist with the orchestra and saxophone soloist with the band and was awarded a scholarship to Ohio Northern University, trading in his violin for a tenor sax along the way. After the War in 1945 he came home to play with the Sonny Dunham Band.


Johnny played with several traveling bands (Artie Shaw, Jimmy Dorsey, Les Brown) and also stage shows, ice shows, circus and many different styles of bands. In 1960, he formed his own band and since then has gained national recognition while sharing the stage with Tex Beneke, Johnny Desmond, The Four Aces, Helen O'Connell, Bobby Vinton, Bob Crosby, Myron Floren, The Lawrence Welk Stars and a 32-piece orchestra with Bob Hope.

Since 1979, Johnny has helped return big band music to the forefront. He has performed at Centennial Terrace to record crowds and is credited with saving this traditional "Dancing Under the Stars" from devastation. Repeat performances at the Indiana Roof Ballroom, Cedar Point and the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island are just a few of the highlight performances of the Knorr band. In 1984, the Johnny Knorr Orchestra was recognized as one of the big bands of today in the souvenir edition of Foto-Play, published by the Big Bands Magazine in Hollywood, California. In 1996, the United States Postal Service honored the Johnny Knorr Orchestra by presenting them with an award to commemorate the Orchestra's contributions to big band music in conjunction with their American Music Stamp Series. On September 16, 1996, Johnny received a Proclamation from the Mayor of the City of Toledo, Ohio for 35 years of performing big band music for the enjoyment and entertainment of thousands who live in the tri-state area. March 9, 1997, Johnny received the People's Choice Award for the Performing Arts as the best instrumental group. On March 21, 1999, Johnny was inducted into the Lake Erie West Hall of Fame.

Johnny Desmond, the great vocalist with the Glenn Miller Orchestra once told Johnny Knorr, “You play that sax the way I like to hear it.” Johnny Knorr coined that compliment as his trademark, “The music you like, the way you like to hear it” and has been using it ever since. Just the Way You Like It, Johnny’s first CD in over ten years is a tribute to the Johnny Knorr Orchestra 50th Anniversary. It is a collection of some of their greatest renditions of hits songs from the 1930s and 40’s under the direction of one of America’s most accomplished big band leaders.


In 1996 the U.S. Postal Service honored the Johnny Knorr Orchestra by presenting an award to commemorate the Orchestra’s contributions to big band music in conjunction with the American Music Series.


He died in his home at the age of 90 surrounded by his family.


  • Toledo Blade Article [1]
  • Johnny Knorr Website [2]