Neil Levang

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Neil LeVang
Born (1932-01-03)January 3, 1932
Adams, North Dakota, U.S.
Died January 26, 2015(2015-01-26) (aged 83)
Canyon Country, California, U.S.
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Guitar, violin, banjo
Associated acts Lawrence Welk

Neil LeVang (January 3, 1932 – January 26, 2015) was an American musician who was best known from television's The Lawrence Welk Show, playing guitar, violin and banjo.


The younger of two boys, LeVang was born in Adams, North Dakota, a farmer's son of Swedish and Norwegian descent. He got his start playing the banjo and soon added guitar and violin. As a young boy, LeVang moved with his family between Adams, North Dakota and Bemidji, Minnesota before migrating west. They settled in Riverside, California when LeVang was thirteen. At the age of fifteen, he was playing with area bands and establishing himself as a versatile and accomplished stringed instrumentalist. In 1948, LeVang appeared with Foy Willing and the Riders of the Purple Sage, as well as Jimmy Wakely and several other country swing bands.[citation needed]

LeVang joined the United States Coast Guard in 1951 which took him to Seattle, Washington. There he continued in the music scene playing with "Texas Jim Lewis and his Lonestar Cowboys". He also hosted his own radio show. In 1959, he was hired as a temporary guitar and banjo player on The Lawrence Welk Show when Buddy Merrill left to serve in the United States Army. Welk was so pleased with his ability that he hired LeVang on a permanent basis when Buddy completed his tour of duty in 1961. In 1972 he married Janet Hurst and they were married until 1980. LeVang stayed with the Welk Band until its final show in 1982. That same year, at the Country Music Association Awards he was nominated for best artist on a speciality instrument, the mandolin. He was also an accomplished studio musician, playing on several records for artists such as Glen Campbell, Frank Zappa, Bobby Darin, Bobbi Gentry, David Clayton Thomas, Neal Hefti ("Batman Theme"), Elvis Presley, Dean Martin, Neil Diamond and Noel Boggs.[citation needed]

LeVang performed as a studio musician on many television shows including Little House on the Prairie, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Brady Bunch, The Monkees, Highway to Heaven, Green Acres, Petticoat Junction, and a host of Hanna-Barbera cartoons. He was the featured guitarist with Naomi and Wynonna Judd on the 1985 and 1986 Academy of Country Music Association Awards television broadcast. He was the subject of an extensive career profile by historian Rich Kienzle in the December 2009 issue of Vintage Guitar Magazine.[1]

LeVang died in Canyon Country, California at the age of 83.[2]

Film credits as a musician[edit]

Neil also worked on music for several Hollywood motion pictures. His film credits include:


External links[edit]