Doc Severinsen

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Doc Severinsen
Doc Severinsen 1974.JPG
Severinsen in a 1974 publicity photo for The Tonight Show
Background information
Birth nameCarl Hilding Severinsen
Born (1927-07-07) July 7, 1927 (age 91)
Arlington, Oregon, U.S.
GenresJazz, swing, fusion, pop
Occupation(s)Musician, bandleader
InstrumentsTrumpet
Years active1946–present
LabelsCommand, RCA, Amherst, Telarc
Associated actsThe Tonight Show Band
Websitewww.docseverinsen.com

Carl Hilding "Doc" Severinsen (born July 7, 1927) is an American jazz trumpeter who led the band for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

Early life[edit]

Severinsen was born in Arlington, Oregon, to Minnie Mae (1897–1998) and Carl Severinsen (1898–1972).[1] He was nicknamed Doc after his father, the only dentist in Arlington. His father played violin and wanted him to play, too, but Severinsen wanted to play trombone.[2] Because his arms weren't long enough for trombone and the [3] small Arlington music store had none available, he settled for cornet. A neighbor gave him some help on how to play, while his father, tobacco in mouth, instructed him to spit out the notes like spitting tobacco. His mother threatened to spank him if he didn't practice.[4]

Severinsen proved to have a knack for the instrument. He was in a high school band when he was seven, and two years later he won a state trumpet contest. At thirteen, he joined a multi-state all-star band, and at fourteen he auditioned for Tommy Dorsey but wasn't hired. He started a quartet called the Blue Notes that performed at local dances.[4]

Before graduating from high school, he was hired to go on the road with the Ted Fio Rito Orchestra.[4] After he graduated, he went on tour with Charlie Barnet, Tommy Dorsey, and Benny Goodman.[2] He was drafted by the Army during World War II.[5] In 1946, he played trumpet on radio station KODL.[6]

The Tonight Show[edit]

In 1949, Severinsen got a job as a studio musician for NBC, where he accompanied Steve Allen, Eddie Fisher, Dinah Shore, and Kate Smith.[4] The leader of The Tonight Show band, Skitch Henderson, asked him to be first chair trumpeter in 1962, and five years later Severinsen was leading the band.[5]

Under Severinsen's direction, the Tonight Show band became a well-known big band in America.[7] Severinsen became one of the most popular bandleaders, appearing almost every night on television. He led the band during commercials and while guests were introduced. He joked with Johnny Carson, the show's host, and got a reputation for gaudy clothing.[2]

The show introduced a comic "Stump the Band" segment in which audience members called out the titles of obscure songs to see if the band knew how to play them. Severinsen often cried "key of E", his signal for the band to strike up a western theme, and then he would enthusiastically sing a country music-flavored nonsense song.

Severinsen substituted for Ed McMahon as Carson's announcer and sidekick. Tommy Newsom was frequently the band's substitute director when Severinsen was away from the show or filling in for McMahon. Severinsen continued as bandleader until Carson's retirement in 1992.

He appeared on Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show in February 2015 when the show traveled to Los Angeles for a week. He played for the evening with the Roots. The appearance helped to promote his nationwide tour.

Recording career[edit]

During the early 1960s, Severinsen began recording big band albums, then moved toward instrumental pop music by the end of the decade. In the 1970s he recorded jazz funk, then disco, finding hits with "Night Journey" and "I Wanna Be With You". He released an album with the jazz fusion group Xebron in 1985. During the next year, he recorded The Tonight Show Band with Doc Severinsen which won the Grammy Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Performance. After Carson retired in 1992, he toured with some of the band's members, including Conte Candoli, Snooky Young, Bill Perkins, Ernie Watts, Ross Tompkins, and Ed Shaughnessy.[2]

Severinsen performed with high school bands, in particular in the 1970s with Don Caneva's John Hersey High School Bands, which recorded four albums.[8][9][10]

Conducting and teaching[edit]

Doc Severinsen in 2009

Severinsen was the principal pops conductor for several American orchestras during and after his time on The Tonight Show. His first was with the Phoenix Symphony in 1983.[11] He held similar positions with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and Minnesota Orchestra.[2]

He retired from conducting in 2007 and was named Pops Conductor Emeritus in Milwaukee[12] and Pops Conductor Laureate in Minnesota.[13] Severinsen was also named Distinguished Visiting Professor of Music and Katherine K. Herberger Heritage Chair for Visiting Artists at Arizona State University School of Music in 2001 and 2002.[14]

In 2014, he was inducted into the Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Severinsen with daughter Nancy, in 1974. Nancy was part of a vocal group called "Today's Children" which often performed with him.

Severinsen's children are Nancy, Cindy, Allen, Robin Merrill, and Judy Cascio. He has eight grandchildren, including Blaire and Gray Reinhard, who write and perform roots rock music together in various incarnations as Curtis & Reinhard and the Blaire Reinhard Band.[16] Severinsen has been married four times. Television writer and producer Emily Marshall was his third wife. They met when she was working as a secretary for The Tonight Show producer Fred de Cordova[17]

Discography[edit]

  • A String of Trumpets (Everest, 1960) with Billy Mure
  • Tempestuous Trumpet (Command, 1961)
  • The Big Band's Back in Town (Command, 1962)
  • Torch Songs for Trumpet (Command, 1963)[18]
  • High, Wide & Wonderful (Command, 1965)
  • Fever! (Command, 1966) (Pop No. 147)
  • Command Performances (Command, 1966) (Pop No. 133)
  • Live!: The Doc Severinsen Sextet (Command, 1967)
  • Swinging & Singing (Command, 1967)
  • The New Sound of Today's Big Band (Command, 1967)
  • The Great Arrival (Command, 1968)
  • Doc Severinsen & Strings (Command, 1968)
  • Doc Severinsen's Closet (Command, 1970)
  • Brass Roots (RCA, 1971) (Pop No. 185)
  • Brass on Ivory (RCA, 1972) (Pop No. 74) with Henry Mancini
  • Doc (RCA, 1972)
  • Brass, Ivory & Strings (RCA, 1973) (Pop No. 185) with Henry Mancini
  • Rhapsody for Now! (RCA, 1973)
  • Trumpets & Crumpets & Things (ABC, 1973)
  • Night Journey (Epic, 1976) (Pop No. 189)
  • Brand New Thing (Epic, 1977)
  • Live from Beautiful Downtown Burbank Tommy Newsom Featuring Doc Severinsen (Direct Disk Labs, 1978)
  • Doc Severinsen and Friends (Everest, 1978)
  • London Sessions (Firstline, 1980)
  • Seductive Strings Featuring Doc Severinsen (Bainbridge, 1980)
  • Doc Severinsen & Xebron (Passport, 1985)
  • Episodes (Pro-Arte, 1986)
  • Ja-Da (MCA, 1986)
  • The Tonight Show Band with Doc Severinsen (Amherst, 1986) (Pop No. 65)
  • The Tonight Show Band with Doc Severinsen, Vol. II (Amherst, 1988)
  • Facets (Amherst, 1988)
  • The Big Band Hit Parade (Telarc, 1989)
  • Trumpet Spectacular (Telarc, 1990)
  • Once More...With Feeling! (Amherst, 1991)
  • Merry Christmas from Doc Severinsen and The Tonight Show Orchestra (Amherst, 1991) (Pop No. 171)
  • Unforgettably Doc (Telarc, 1992)
  • Good Medicine (Bluebird/RCA, 1992)
  • Lullabies and Goodnight (Critique, 1992)
  • Two Sides of Doc Severinsen (The Right Stuff, 1993)
  • Swingin' the Blues (Azica, 1999)
  • El Ritmo De La Vida (Tejate, 2009) with Gil Gutierrez and Pedro Cartas
  • En Mi Corazon (Tejate, 2010) with Gil Gutierrez and Pedro Cartas
  • From the Archives (Essential Media Group, 2012)
  • Oblivion (CD Baby, 2014)[19]

As sideman[edit]

With Chris Connor

  • 1959 Witchcraft
  • 1961 Chris Connor Sings the George Gershwin Almanac of Song

With Urbie Green

With Skitch Henderson and "The Tonight Show" Orchestra

  • 1964 Skitch...Tonight! [20]
  • 1965 More Skitch Tonight! [21]

With Gerry Mulligan

With Tito Puente

  • 1957 Night Beat
  • 1957 Top Percussion
  • 1960 Tambó

With others

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Doc Severinsen profile". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2011-10-26.
  2. ^ a b c d e Huey, Steve. "Doc Severinsen". AllMusic. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  3. ^ "Bio". Doc Severinsen. 2011-01-10. Retrieved 2018-05-17.
  4. ^ a b c d Jackovich, Karen (13 July 1981). "It's a Long Day's Journey from 'Tonight' When Doc Severinsen Comes Home to Oregon". People. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Bio". Doc Severinsen. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  6. ^ "About Us". RadioFreshing KODL. Archived from the original on June 27, 2009. Retrieved April 13, 2009.
  7. ^ "Flash". SPIN. SPIN Media. June 1992. pp. 17–. ISSN 0886-3032.
  8. ^ Daday, Eileen O. (August 11, 2008). "Ex-Hersey band director remembered". Daily Herald. Chicago, IL. Archived from the original on September 25, 2015. Retrieved September 25, 2015.
  9. ^ "Obituaries, "Don Ernest Caneva"". U-T San Diego. September 8, 2008. Archived from the original on June 21, 2015. Retrieved September 25, 2015.
  10. ^ Gonzalez, Blanca (September 16, 2008). "Don Caneva; third-generation band director had music in his blood". U-T San Diego. Archived from the original on November 10, 2014. Retrieved September 25, 2015.
  11. ^ http://www.phoenixsymphony.org/artists/artistic_staff_severinsen.html Archived February 9, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ "Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra". Retrieved 5 February 2016.
  13. ^ "News: Doc Severinsen to Step Down as Minnesota Orchestra's Pops Conductor". PlaybillArts. 2006-07-15. Retrieved 2011-10-26.
  14. ^ ASU HCFA SOM | e-Notes | Severinsen in concert Archived September 4, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ "3 new inductees to Scandinavian-American Hall". The Washingtion Times. Retrieved 5 February 2016.
  16. ^ "Doc Severinsen". Doc Severinsen. Retrieved 2018-05-17.
  17. ^ Sheff, Vicki (1988-12-19). "Doc Severinsen Finds His Key, and It's Writer Emily Marshall". People.com. Retrieved 2011-10-26.
  18. ^ Harold, Chuck. "Platter Patter: Album Recalls Kennedy's Death", The St. Petersburg Evening Independent. December 21, 1963. Retrieved 2013-09-30.
  19. ^ "Doc Severinsen | Album Discography | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  20. ^ Skitch Henderson, liner notes to Columbia LP, CL 2367
  21. ^ Mort Goode, liner notes to Columbia LP, CL 2450
  22. ^ "Doc Severinsen | Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 October 2017.

External links[edit]


Media offices
Preceded by
Milton DeLugg
The Tonight Show bandleader
1967–1992
Succeeded by
Branford Marsalis