Paul Tanner

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Paul Tanner
Born (1917-10-15)October 15, 1917
Skunk Hollow, Kentucky, United States
Died February 5, 2013(2013-02-05) (aged 95)
Carlsbad, California, United States
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Musician, inventor, educator, author
Instruments Trombone, electrotheremin
Associated acts
Notable instruments
External video
Oral History, Paul Tanner shares moments of his life story and career. Interview date May 18, 2001, NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Oral History Library

Paul Tanner (October 15, 1917 – February 5, 2013) was an American musician and former member of the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

Early life[edit]

Tanner had five brothers and each could play an instrument. Tanner learned to play the trombone at a reform school where his father was employed as superintendent.[1] Tanner and his brothers were playing in what he described as a "strip joint" when Miller heard him and offered him a position in his band.[1]


Tanner gained fame by playing trombone with Glenn Miller's band from 1938 until 1942,[2] when he joined the U.S. Army Air Force.[3] (In fact, while Miller joined the USAAF, Tanner joined the US Army, and became part of the 378th Army Service Forces Band at Ft Slocum, NY.) He later worked as a studio musician in Hollywood.

Tanner earned three degrees at University of California, Los Angeles — a bachelor's in 1958 (graduating magna cum laude), a master's in 1961, and a doctorate in 1975. He also was influential in launching UCLA's highly regarded jazz education program in 1958.[1] He then became a professor at UCLA[4] and also authored or co-authored several academic and popular histories related to jazz.


Main article: Electro-Theremin

Tanner developed and played the Electro-Theremin, an electronic musical instrument that mimics the sound of the theremin. He can be heard performing on the opening title theme music of the 1963-66 CBS-TV comedy series "My Favorite Martian." The Electro-Theremin is featured on several 1966-1967 recordings by The Beach Boys, with Tanner as the guest player ;[5] most notably on the Capitol Records singles "Good Vibrations", "Wild Honey", and the album track "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times".


Tanner died of pneumonia on February 5, 2013 at the age of 95. He was the second to last surviving member of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, the last being Ray Anthony at the time of Tanner's death.


  • Jazz, with Maurice Gerow and David W. Megill (1964, W. C. Brown / 2009, McGraw-Hill; ISBN 978-0-07-340137-9)
  • Every Night Was New Year's Eve: On the Road With Glenn Miller . With Bill Cox (1992, Cosmo Space Co., Ltd. Tokyo. ISBN 4-947544-08-2)


External links[edit]