Orie Amodeo

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Orie Amodeo (March 9, 1921 – December 26, 1998) was an American musician who was a member of the Lawrence Welk orchestra from 1945 to 1970. His primary instruments were the flute, saxophone and clarinet.

Born in Mechanicville, New York; he was a self-taught musician from a young age, learning all the woodwind instruments and even the violin. He joined the Welk orchestra in October 1945, when they were headquartered in Chicago. He was with the band when they moved out to Southern California in the early 1950s, and when they made their national television debut in 1955.

Orie left the Welk organization in 1970 to lead his own orchestra, influenced by the sounds of Count Basie. During his twenty five years with the Champagne Music Makers, he played all the woodwind instruments and was also the band photographer.[1]

He died of cancer on December 26, 1998 at the age of 77, and was survived by his wife Gloria and their four children; Lois, Rusty, Robert and Gina.


Orest “Orie” Amodeo (March 9, 1921 – December 26, 1998) was a lead reed player and Lawrence Welk orchestra member for 25 years (1945 – 1970). He was a self-taught musician. He learned to play many classical woodwind and reed instruments at a young age. His main instruments were the clarinet, flute, and saxophone. He was most famous for playing the saxophone. He was known for playing the signature “Champagne” music style for the Lawrence Welk Orchestra. He also played the piccolo in addition to his main instruments. Amodeo was also a World War II army veteran.

Early life[edit]

Amodeo was born in Mechanicville, New York on March 9, 1921. He attended Mechanicville High school, and graduated from there in 1938. Prior to playing with the Lawrence Welk orchestra he was a member of the Amodeo City Band in Mechanicville, under his father. He also played for the band at his high school, and as part of a small band at Joycee’s Log Cabin in his hometown of Mechanicville, New York. He moved to Los Angeles with his family in 1951.

Amodeo joined the Lawrence Welk orchestra in San Francisco in 1945. He remained with the orchestra until 1970, when he left to for his own band.

Solo career[edit]

In 1970, Orie departed from the Lawrence Welk Orchestra to pursue his own band, influenced by the sounds of Count Basie. The Orchestras was named the Champagne Music Makers. He spent 25 years with the band, and played all of the woodwind instruments along with the addition of being an occasional photographer for the band. In 1970, the same year Amodeo left the Lawrence Welk orchestra, he also became a stage technician. Although numerous attempts at success were made, the venture eventually proved to be unsuccessful. He retired from his job as a stage technician in Los Angeles in 1988.

Personal life[edit]

He married Gloria Amodeo (née Mucci; 1924 – 1999) on Nov. 7, 1943. Orie and Gloria had two daughters and two sons: Lois, Gina, Rusty, and Robert. They were married for 55 years, until his death in 1998. He died of a long illness at home at the age of 77 years old.

On television and in movies Amodeo was the lead reed player for the Lawrence Welk Orchestra.

He was one of the few people who would conduct a band with his left hand, which is very rare to find in the orchestra world.