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Lanin's brothers, Sam and Howard, were also both bandleaders; they came from a family of ten (of which Lester was the youngest) born to a family of Russian Jewish immigrants. He originally wanted to be an attorney but quit school to play music in his teens. Beginning in 1927, he led ensembles that were paid to play at the houses of wealthy socialites in Philadelphia and New York, continuing after the 1929 stock market crash.
In 1930, Lanin was hired to play at a gala for Barbara Hutton, and the event garnered so much press in New York newspapers that it made Lanin a star as well as the young heiress. Lanin became a major star of the dance music world, and was hired worldwide to play for kings and queens, in addition to a recurring invitation to play at White House inaugural balls from the Eisenhower administration to the Carter administration. Lanin was managed for much of his career by New York socialite music promoter Al Madison.
Famous for long, smooth medleys, Lanin's popularity increased upon the advent of the LP era. Starting with Epic Records in the middle of the 1950s, he recorded a string of albums for several labels, many of which hit the US Billboard 200. He continued performing well into the 1990s. In 1999 Lester Lanin played himself in the black-and-white film comedy Man of the Century, where he was the favorite musician of lead character Johnny Twennies. Lester Lanin died at age 97 in 2004.
Note:This list is incomplete.
- Dance to the Music of Lester Lanin (1957) US #7
- Lester Lanin and His Orchestra (1958) US #18
- Cocktail Dancing
- Have Band, Will Travel (1958) US #12
- Lester Lanin at the Tiffany Ball (1958) US #17
- Lester Lanin Goes to College (1958) US #19
- Dancing on the Continent
- Christmas Dance Party
- Have Band, Will Travel
- The Madison Avenue Beat
- Twistin' in High Society! (1962) US #37
- More Twistin' in High Society
- Dancing Theatre Party (Featuring the Dancing Pianos)
- For Dancing Lester Lanin Play 23 Richard Rodgers Hits (1964)
- 40 Beatles Hits (1966)
- Narrowing the Generation Gap (1969)
- Biography, Allmusic.com
Dancing Theatre Party (Featuring the Dancing Pianos)
Lanin and RadioShack had a recording tape (reel to reel) agreement to use his name and likeness on boxes of recording tape. It was very good tape for its time (1960's).