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Thursday, 17 August 2017

Wayne Raney born 17 August 1921


Wayne Raney (August 17, 1921 – January 23, 1993) was an American country singer and harmonica player.
Raney was born on August 17, 1921, on a farm near Wolf Bayou, Arkansas (Cleburne County), the youngest of five children of William Franklin (Frank) Raney and Bonnie Davis Raney. Born with a foot deformity, he could not do heavy labour. After learning to play harmonica at an early age, he moved to Piedras Negras, Mexico at age 13, where he played on radio station XEPN.  

He met Lonnie Glosson, his longtime musical associate, in 1936, and together they found work on radio in Little Rock in 1938. Later the pair worked for WCKY out of Cincinnati and played on syndicated radio. They also established a harmonica mail order business which ended up being enormously successful; they sold millions of harmonicas and played a major role in turning the harmonica into a widely popular instrument. 

Raney played with the Delmore Brothers in the years after World War II, then launched a solo career in 1948; his first two singles, "Lost John Boogie" and "Jack and Jill Boogie", both reached the Top 15 of the U.S. country charts. His 1949 single, "Why Don't You Haul Off and Love Me", was a No. 1 country hit and also hit the Top 40 of the pop charts. Raney played the Grand Ole Opry in 1953 and also worked on the California Hayride and the WWVA Jamboree.  

Late in the 1950s he worked as a DJ, record producer, and label owner, starting Rimrock Records. He wrote the 1960 Christian revival song "We Need a Whole Lot More of Jesus (and a Lot Less Rock and Roll)" which has been covered by numerous artists in a variety of styles: People!, The Greenbriar Boys and Linda Ronstadt, to name but three. He recorded country music into the early 1960s, including for his own label, and ceased the mail-order business in 1960. 

After returning to Arkansas, he recorded a gospel album called Don't Try to Be What You Ain't. Eventually he went into semi-retirement, running his own chicken farm and performing only occasionally in the late 1960s and 1970s.  

While he appeared sporadically on Hee Haw in the 1970s, he lost his voice in the 1980s and ceased performing; in 1990 he published an autobiography entitled Life Has Not Been a Bed of Roses.

He died of cancer in 1993 and was inducted into the Country Music Disc Jockey Hall of Fame. (Info compiled mainly from Wikipedia)

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Eydie Gorme born 16 August 1928

Eydie Gormé (also spelled Gorme; August 16, 1928 – August 10, 2013) was an American singer who performed solo as well as with her husband, Steve Lawrence, in popular ballads and swing. She earned numerous awards, including a Grammy and an Emmy.  

Gormé was born Edith Gormezano on August 16, 1928, in Manhattan, the daughter of Nessim and Fortuna, Sephardic Jewish immigrants. Her father, a tailor, was from Sicily and her mother was from Turkey. Edith and her older siblings, Corene and Robert, grew up speaking fluent Spanish. Ironically, she was the only one of the three not to be given music lessons, since the others had not made much use of theirs. 

Gorme made her singing debut at age three, when she toddled away from her parents in a department store and got on line to perform in a children’s radio show being broadcast there. At William Howard Taft High School in the Bronx, New York, she was voted “the prettiest, peppiest cheerleader,” starred in most of the school musicals, and sang with her friend Ken Greengrass’s band on weekends.  She graduated from William Howard Taft High School in 1946 with Stanley Kubrick in her class. She worked for the United Nations as an interpreter, using her fluency in the Ladino and Spanish languages. 

After high school, Gorme briefly worked as an interpreter for a theatrical supply export company and later as its manager, while taking night classes in foreign trade and economics at the City College of New York. But she continued performing with Greengrass on weekends and soon took the plunge, leaving her job to try to make it as a singer. Greengrass disbanded his orchestra to become her manager, a role he retained for many years.   

She got her big break and her recording debut in 1950 with the Tommy Tucker Orchestra and Don Brown. She made a second recording which featured Dick Noel. MGM issued these two recordings on 78. She changed her name from Edith to Edie but later changed it to Eydie because people constantly mispronounced Edie as Eddie. 

She then toured for a year with Tex Benecke’s orchestra and also sang with the Ray Eberle orchestra before deciding she was ready to try performing on her own. As a single act, Gorme toured the nightclub and theatre circuit and made guest appearances on top radio and television programs. She signed her first recording contract with Coral Records in 1952 and soon made the Top Twenty. Through the Voice of America, she hosted her own radio show, Cita con Eydie [A date with Eydie], which was transmitted to Spanish-speaking countries around the world.   

In the fall of 1953, Gorme joined the permanent cast of Tonight!, where for the next four years she sang and also wrote and performed in sketches with Steve Lawrence. They had much in common, and friendship gradually blossomed into romance. The son of Eastern European Jewish immigrants, Lawrence was born Sidney Liebowitz in Brooklyn, New York, on July 8, 1935. He had started singing in the synagogue choir where his father served as cantor while supporting the family as a housepainter. Gorme and Lawrence were married in Las Vegas on December 29, 1957. They later had two sons, David Nessim and Michael.   

Meanwhile, in February 1956, Gorme made her New York nightclub debut as a last-minute replacement at the Copacabana and was such a hit that she was booked as a headliner for July. The following January brought her first Broadway appearance, as singing star of the Jerry Lewis Stage Show at the Palace Theatre. In the summer of 1958, the husband-and-wife team had their own weekly musical variety show on television as summer replacements for Steve Allen. 
Gorme then embarked on a two-year solo nightclub tour while her husband served in the Army. Reunited in 1960, the pair won a Grammy Award for their first complete duet album, We Got Us, which was followed by several others over the next few years.

One was her 1963 Grammy-nominated hit recording of “Blame It on the Bossa Nova,” inspired by the dance fad of the moment and written by the songwriting team of Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann. Another was “Amor,” recorded a year later in Spanish and an enormous success in Spanish-speaking countries, where it is the song most associated with her.

Her 1966 recording of “If He Walked Into My Life,” a lament from the Broadway musical “Mame,” was also a standout. 1968 found Steve & Eydie on Broadway in Golden Rainbow, and the following year they recorded their first musical, What It Was, Was Love.  
Gorme has continued to perform both solo and with Lawrence, recording albums and singles, and appearing on television and in nightclubs. Throughout the 1980s, Gorme and Lawrence appeared on many well-known stages, including Carnegie Hall, the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles, Harrah’s in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, and Bally’s in Las Vegas. In 1991, they joined Frank Sinatra on his year-long Diamond Jubilee Tour, in celebration of his seventy-fifth birthday.  

In 1995 Gorme and Lawrence received Lifetime Achievement Awards from both the Society of Singers and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.  
As the 21st century arrived, the couple announced their plans to cut back on their touring, launching a "One More For The Road" tour in 2002. In 2006, Gormé became a blogger, posting occasional messages on her official website. In November 2009, after his wife retired, Lawrence embarked on a solo musical tour.  

Gormé died on August 10, 2013, six days before her 85th birthday, at Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center in Las Vegas following a brief, undisclosed illness. Her husband, Steve Lawrence, was at her bedside, along with their surviving son, David.
 (info compiled mainly frpm and Wikipedia)

Monday, 14 August 2017

Lorez Alexandria born 14 August 1929

Lorez Alexandria, born Dolorez Alexandria Turner (August 14, 1929 – May 22, 2001), was an American jazz and gospel singer, described as "one of the most gifted and underrated jazz singers of
the twentieth century".

Dolorez Alexandria Turner was born on August 14, 1929 in Chicago, Illinois. Growing up she began singing gospel music in church choirs and travelled throughout the Midwest with a Baptist a cappella group. Later, when she entered the Chicago club circuit, she became a regular performer at venues like the Brass Rail and the Cloister Inn in Chicago, Alexandria became a local favourite and recorded for the first time for several independent local labels, most notably King Records, and later Argo Records.  

In 1957, Alexandria was signed to King Records. That year she released her first album This is Lorez with the King Fleming Quartet, followed by Lorez Sings Pres: A Tribute to Lester Young, which was an homage to the legendary tenor saxophonist. With the release of several albums for King during 1957-1959, Alexandria became popular beyond her hometown. 

Alexandria went on to collaborate with pianist Ramsey Lewis, with whom she had played as far back as 1958, and some of Count Basie's sidemen, releasing the LP Early in the Morning on Argo in 1960. On the title track, she proves her comfort with the blues, backed up by a rhythm section that creates just enough space for her to fill alongside explosions of blue notes by Lewis on the piano.
 She produced three more LPs on the label – including Sing No Sad Songs for Me in 1961 which featured a full string section, and Deep Roots in 1962, which featured trumpeter Howard McGhee. Her last album for Argo, and the last album that she made in Chicago, For Swingers Only, came out in 1963 before she left the midwest for California. 

In 1964 Alexandria moved to Los Angeles in pursuit of further opportunities to perform in clubs and record, quickly becoming a featured vocalist at popular venues that included the Parisian Room and Marla's Memory Lane.Getting signed to Impulse! Records was anticipated to be her jump onto the national stage after seven years of working with independent labels at King and Argo. 

Alexandria's 1964 album Alexandria the Great,was  her first on Impulse! Her second album More of the Great Lorez Alexandria, was released later in 1964 and produced by Tutti Camarata. Shortly thereafter, though, her relationship with the label ended in the midst of a decision by the headquarters of ABC Records that vocal music should be housed on the pop side of the company. She then had a long period off records (only a few private recordings during the 1965-1976 period). 

Beginning in 1978 and continuing until 1993, Alexandria resumed recording, releasing several albums with a number of record labels, including Discovery, Trend and Muse. Between 1980 and 1984, she released a three volume tribute to the composer Johnny Mercer, Sings the Songs of Johnny Mercer, Vol. 1, Vol. 2: Harlem Butterfly, and Vol. 3: Tangerine.  
Gordon Brisker, the tenor saxophonist, contributed many of the arrangements for Alexandria's 1987 album Dear to My Heart, released by Trend Records. On this record, Alexandria displayed that she still had the ability to re-imagine well known standards. I'll Never Stop Loving You, her second album released on Muse Records in spring 1992 featured Herman Riley on tenor saxophone and flute and pianist Gildo Mahones, with whom she had collaborated in 1984. On her last album, Star Eyes, released in June 1993, Alexandria was joined by tenor saxophonist Houston Person, guitarist Bruce Forman, pianist Stan Hope, bassist Peter Weiss and drummer Michael Carvin.

Shortly after Star Eyes was released, she suffered a stroke and never fully recovered. After retiring in Gardena, California in 1996 she told a friend "I'm tired – I've had my day." She died of complications from kidney failure in 2001 at the age of 74, remembered by some as one of the most under-appreciated jazz vocalists of the 20th century. (Compiled from Wikipedia & All Music)

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Skinnay Ennis born 13 August 1907

Edgar Clyde "Skinnay" Ennis, Jr. (b.13 August 1907, Salisbury, North Carolina, USA, d. 3 June 1963, Beverly Hills, California, USA.) was an American jazz and pop music bandleader and singer.
Ennis was born in Salisbury, North Carolina, and some sources list his name as Robert, while others claim that it was Edgar Clyde. This indeterminacy about his given name, by the way, was apparently encouraged by Ennis himself and was often cause for comedy on many of his radio shows.
Ennis met orchestra leader Hal Kemp in 1927 while both were attending college at the University of North Carolina. Kemp picked Ennis to play drums in his campus band, the Carolina Club Orchestra, and when Kemp left UNC to form a professional jazz band later that year Ennis went with him. Kemp also encouraged him to sing. Ennis would step away from his drum kit and take the mike.
His singing style was shy and breathless and proved a perfect match for the unique style of sweet dance music that Kemp's orchestra came to play by the mid-1930s. Ennis was able to turn what might otherwise seem like a weakness into a stylistic trademark, and he was featured on many of Kemp's classic sides, such as "Ah! But I've Learned," "Shuffle Off to Buffalo," "Forty-Second Street," "Moonlight Saving Time," and the tune that would forever be associated with Ennis—"Got a Date with an Angel." He quickly became popular with female audiences and was soon the band's biggest star.
In hindsight, it seems that Ennis's approach to the vocal art may have, at least initially, influenced by the style of Whispering Jack Smith, a 1920s crooner who was very popular around the time that Ennis began to step up to the microphone.


Ennis played with Kemp's orchestra up to 1937 including one tour of Europe in 1930. He formed his own band in 1938 which became a popular ensemble in Hollywood films. "Got a Date With an Angel" was his theme song. The new group featured arrangements by Claude Thornhill and Gil Evans. Ennis soon found a home on Bob Hope's radio show. Hope helped promote him by making him an integral part of each program. Playing Hope's stooge, Ennis gained nationwide exposure and popularity for his new group and was in demand for personal appearances throughout the summer off season.

In 1940, when news of Hal Kemp's untimely death reached him, Ennis briefly returned to help out with Kemp's orchestra. Ennis's commercial recordings after 1941 are not listed in the jazz discographies. From Billboard magazine ads one can conclude that he recorded at least four sides for ARA, which was a Hollywood-based record label operated by Boris Morris and his son, circa 1944–1946.
Ennis was sidelined for a short period by WWII when he conducted his own service band but returned to Hope's program after his discharge in 1946, where he remained until 1948. He then settled into a long run on the Abbott and Costello radio show. Ennis continued working with big bands and small groups mostly in hotels in the Los Angeles area up to his death in 1963. Skinnay Ennis, always an easy-going, gentle, and likeable man, died while choking on food in a Beverly Hills restaurant. (Info compiled mainly from Solid!)

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Percy Mayfield born 12 August 1920

Percy Mayfield (August 12, 1920 – August 11, 1984) was an American rhythm-and-blues singer with a smooth vocal style. He was also a songwriter, known for the songs "Please Send Me Someone to Love" and "Hit the Road Jack".

Mayfield was born in Minden, Louisiana, the seat of Webster Parish, in the north-western part of the state. As a youth, he had a talent for poetry, which led him to songwriting and singing. He began his performing career in Texas and then moved to Los Angeles in 1942, but without success as a singer until 1947, when a small record label, Swing Time Records, signed him to record his song "Two Years of Torture," with a band that included the saxophonist Maxwell Davis, the guitarist Chuck Norris, and the pianist Willard McDaniel. The record sold steadily over the next few years, prompting Art Rupe to sign Mayfield to his label, Specialty Records, in 1950.


Mayfield's vocal style was influenced by such stylists as Charles Brown, but unlike many West Coast bluesmen, Mayfield did not focus on the white market. He sang blues ballads, mostly songs he wrote, in a gentle vocal style. His most famous song, "Please Send Me Someone to Love", a number one R&B hit single in late 1950,
described by the reviewer Bill Dahl as "a multi-layered universal lament", was widely influential and recorded by many other singers. His career flourished as a string of six Top 10 R&B hits followed, like "Lost Love" and "The Big Question", confirming his status as a leading blues ballad singer  and "a true master at expressing his innermost feelings, laced with vulnerability and pathos".
In 1952, at the height of his popularity, Mayfield was severely injured in an automobile crash, when he was returning from a performance in Las Vegas to Los Angeles as the front-seat passenger in a chauffeur-driven car. The vehicle hit the back of an unseen stationary truck, and Mayfield was hit by debris. Though pronounced dead at the scene, he eventually recovered but spent two years convalescing. The accident left him with a facial disfigurement that eventually ended his career as a performer but did not halt his prolific song-writing. He continued to write and record for Specialty, and after 1954 he recorded for Chess Records and Imperial Records.
In 1961, Mayfield's song "Hit the Road Jack" brought him to the attention of Ray Charles, who signed him to his Tangerine Records, primarily as a songwriter. Mayfield wrote "Hide nor Hair", "At the Club", "Danger Zone", and "But on the Other Hand, Baby" for Tangerine, and Charles recorded at least 15 of his songs. He also had a series of single releases as a vocalist on Tangerine, produced by Charles, including a remake of "River's Invitation", which crept into the Billboard Hot 100 but reached number 25 on the R&B chart in 1963. Two albums were also released, largely compilations of his singles.
Following his RCA recordings in the early 1970s, Mayfield signed briefly with Atlantic Records, for which the soul and blues artist Johnny Watson produced a minor R&B hit for him, "I Don't Want to Be the President". After a period of obscurity, there was a final chapter of his career. In the early 1980s, the Bay Area keyboardist Mark Naftalin discovered that Mayfield was living in the East Bay area and was able to provide him with a band for live performances in several Marin County and East Bay clubs. The exposure led to a 1982 studio date for the Dutch company Timeless Records with the Phillip Walker Blues Band, recording the album Hit the Road Again.
Mayfield died of a heart attack on August 11, 1984, one day before his 64th birthday, having again fallen into obscurity. He was interred at Inglewood Park Cemetery, in Inglewood, California.

Mayfield married three times. The identity of his first wife is unknown. His second wife was Willie Mae Atlas Mayfield. His third wife was Tina Mayfield. With his second wife, he had one child, a daughter, Pamela, and three grandchildren.
Mayfield hit his creative peak in the years before his music became a mainstream sound. Thus it was always a struggle to gain recognition that he was due. But available examples of his music demonstrate his writing and performing talent and his enormous influence on other performers.
(Info compiled mainly from Wikipedia)

Here's Hit the road Jack, performed at home by Percy Mayfield. On piano is Mark Naftalin, keyboard player in the old Paul Butterfield Blues Band. 

Friday, 11 August 2017

June Hutton born 11 August 1921

June Hutton (née June Marvel Cowan; August 11, 1919 Bloomington, Illinois – May 2, 1973 Encino, Los Angeles) was an American actress and vocalist, popular with big bands during the 1940s. She was the younger sister of vocalist Ina Ray Hutton.
Hutton's parents were Marvel Svea Williams and Odie Daniel Cowan. June and her older sister, Ina Ray Hutton, both grew up to be entertainers and performers during the Big Band era.
Growing up in Chicago, Hutton attended Hyde Park High School, as did her older sister, Ina. While attending high school, she worked in the dress department at Marshall Fields department store. After graduating, she quit her job and pursued her singing career.
In her early days, she sang at the "Astor Roof" in New York City. After singing with her sister's orchestra in 1938, she was part of the Winston Trio, the Quintones, and the Sande Williams Band. She appeared with the Quintones in Hi Ya, Gentlemen, a failed musical with boxer Max Baer. In 1941, she became the female vocalist for the Stardusters, the singing group of Charlie Spivak & His Orchestra. Notable hits during her Stardusters years are "This is no laughing matter" and "Brother Bill" while she is heard solo on "Dreamsville, Ohio".
In June 1944 she replaced Jo Stafford with vocal group The Pied Pipers. Before recording as part of this world famous quartet, a solo record was released in 1944 with Paul Weston's orchestra: "Don't you know I care?" b/w "Sleigh ride in July". Although popular, it never entered the charts. With The Pied Pipers, however, she recorded many hits among which "Lily Belle", "Mam'selle", "In the middle of May", "My happiness" and, of course, chart-topper "Dream", the group's theme song. Vera-Ellen starred with Danny Kaye in "Wonder man" (1945). June Hutton provided for her singing voice on "So in love".
In 1950 she left the group to start a solo career. Several sides were cut for Decca, including Mary Lou Williams' "Walkin'" and a beautiful rendering of "Dancing on the ceiling", accompanied by Artie Shaw's Gramercy Five. Hardly any of these Decca recordings have ever been re-issued, which make the original 78's from the early fifties true collector's items, since they are very hard to find!
In 1951 she was a regular guest on Frank Sinatra's first television show. Some of these shows (with June) have been released on video and some of the Sinatra/Hutton duets can be heard on Frank Sinatra's CD "There'll be some changes made - The rarities: 1950-51". That same year she got married to bandleader Axel Stordah.
In 1952 she switched to Capitol Records where husband Axel Stordahl accompanied her on all of her records, most of the time along with vocal group The Boys Next Door. Many of these recordings are slow, lush, romantic love songs and in 1953/'54 she scored a few hits as well with "Say you're mine again", "No stone unturned" and "For the first time". She also cut a few duets with Gordon MacRae. She would stay with Capitol until the mid-Fifties. Her 1955 LP "Afterglow" was re-issued on CD a few years ago, yet her many singles from her Capitol years are only available on 78s or 45s.         
A week after Tommy Dorsey's death in November 1956, there was a televised tribute by artists who had worked with TD such as Paul Whiteman, Jo Stafford, Connie Haines and Dick Haymes. Frank Sinatra was not there, but Vic Damone sang some of his songs. June Hutton sang lead with the Pied Pipers for this special occasion.

In 1957 she recorded an excellent stereo album (her last) with a small group backing her for TOPS Records. In years to come it would be re-issued on other labels as well. By the late 1950's she had retired from show business.
Stordahl died in 1963, and Hutton married actor Kenneth Tobey in 1968. They divorced in 1972. The music world lost a wonderful and warm voice on May 2nd, 1973 when June Hutton died at only 52 in Encino, California. She was buried with Stordahl in the same plot at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale)  although only his name is on the marker. (info compiled from Wikipedia &

Vocalist June Hutton chats with Guy Lombardo and sings "P.S. I Love You" in this rare 1955 TV appearance. 

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Claude Thornhill born 10 August 1909

Claude Thornhill (August 10, 1909 – July 1, 1965) was an American pianist, arranger, composer, and bandleader. He composed the jazz and pop standards "Snowfall" and "I Wish I Had You".Although some of his recordings were on the periphery of jazz and his orchestra was at its most popular in the early '40s, Claude Thornhill's main importance to jazz was the influence that his arrangements and orchestra's sound had on cool jazz of the late '40s. 

As a youth, he was recognized as an extraordinary talent and formed a travelling duo with Danny Polo, a musical prodigy on the clarinet and trumpet from nearby Clinton, Indiana. As a student at Garfield High School in Terre Haute, he played with several theatre bands. Thornhill entered the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music at age sixteen. 

Thornhill and clarinetist Artie Shaw started their careers at the Golden Pheasant in Cleveland, Ohio, with the Austin Wiley Orchestra. Thornhill and Shaw went to New York together in 1931. Thornhill went to the West Coast in the late 1930s with the Bob Hope Radio Show and arranged for Judy Garland in Babes in Arms. 

In 1935, he played on sessions with Glenn Miller, including "Solo Hop", which was released on Columbia Records. He also played with Paul Whiteman, Benny Goodman, Ray Noble, and Billie Holiday. He arranged "Loch Lomond" and "Annie Laurie" for Maxine Sullivan. Although he recorded as a leader in 1937, it was in 1939 he founded the Claude Thornhill Orchestra. Danny Polo was his lead clarinet player. Although the Thornhill band was a sophisticated dance band, it became known for its superior jazz musicians.  

The band, featuring long tones played by horns that de-emphasized vibrato, had an unusual sound that sometimes accompanied the leader's tinkling piano. The instrumentation included two French horns and a tuba; sometimes all six of the reeds played clarinets in unison. Although classified by some as a sweet rather than swing band (since the group played a lot of ballads), with the addition in 1941 of Gil Evans as one of the arrangers, the recordings of Thornhill's orchestra attracted a lot of attention in the jazz world.  

Thornhill encouraged the musicians to develop cool-sounding tones. The band was popular with both musicians and the public. Miles Davis's Birth of the Cool nonet was modelled in part on Thornhill's sound and unconventional instrumentation. The band's most successful records were "Snowfall", "A Sunday Kind of Love", and "Love for Love".

Claude Thornhill's compositions included the standard "Snowfall", "I Wish I Had You", recorded by Billie Holiday and Fats Waller, "Let's Go", "Shore Road", "Portrait of a Guinea Farm", "Lodge Podge", "Rustle of Spring", "It's Time for Us to Part", "It Was a Lover and His Lass", "The Little Red Man", "Memory of an Island", and "Where Has My Little Dog Gone?" 

Thornhill was playing at the Paramount Theatre in New York for $10,000 a week in 1942 when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. As
chief musician, he performed shows across the Pacific Theatre with Jackie Cooper as his drummer and Dennis Day as his vocalist. In 1946, he was discharged from the Navy and reunited his ensemble. Danny Polo, Gerry Mulligan, and Barry Galbraith returned with new members, Red Rodney, Lee Konitz, Joe Shulman, and Bill Barber.However, by then the pianist's glory days were over. In the mid 1950s, Thornhill was briefly Tony Bennett's musical director.

He offered his big band library to Gerry Mulligan when Mulligan formed the Concert Jazz Band, but Gerry regretfully declined the gift, since his instrumentation was different. A large portion of his extensive library of music is currently held by Drury University in Springfield, Missouri. 

Thornhill continued touring the country, leading bands on a part-time basis playing at college proms and large dance pavilions into the early '60s.  He downsized to a sextet (plus himself) to make a final recording, for Bill Borden's Monmouth-Evergreen label, in 1963. Claude was largely neglected and forgotten during his final 15 years. He died July 1, 1965, Caldwell, NJ, from a heart attack. 

In 1984, Claude Thornhill was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame. (Compiled mainly from Wikipedia & All Music)

Here is an excerpt from the complete 26 minute telecast on The Big Bands (WGN-TV) from early 1965. Thornhill died July 1, 1965 so this is likely his last preserved live performance.