Lenny Dee, born Leonard George DeStoppelaire, (January 5, 1923 - February 12, 2006) was a virtuoso organist who played many styles of music. His record albums were among the most popular of easy listening and space age pop organists of the 1950s through the early 1970s. His signature hit, Plantation Boogie, charted as a Top 20 hit in 1955. He also had a gold record with 1970's Spinning Wheel.
in 1923, Chicago, Illinois Dee was an only child (though it is sometimes erroneously reported that he was one of eleven or twelve children). As a child, he sang in his church's choir; he also played ukulele and accordion. As a teenager, he turned playing the accordion into a profession, which he continued until he was drafted into the Navy during World War II in 1943.
Upon his return from service,
Dee spent his Navy earnings on a Hammond Model A organ, one of the earliest of its kind. With money from the G.I. Bill, he received instruction in organ at the Chicago Conservatory of Music. Afterwards, he began playing hotels and night clubs in the south in the late 1940s to some degree of success, but very little fame and no record contracts.
It was not until the early 1950s that Dee was signed up to Decca after country singer Red Foley heard him playing at the Plantation Inn in Nashville, Tennessee, and thought Dee's country flavor would be a good contrast to the label's then prominent jazz organist, Ethel Smith.
Dee married his wife, Hendrica, in 1960, the couple settled down in , which would become the base of Lenny's operations for the rest of his career. They had five children; his oldest son, Lenny Jr., played drums with his father. Sarasota, Florida
Despite his contract with Decca, Lenny Dee's first love was live performance. In 1967, after performing regularly in hotel lounges at
like the Dolphin Beach Resort, St. Petersburg Beach Dee started a night club named Lenny Dee's Dolphin Den. He later opened Lenny Dee's King's Inn, a few miles away. His supper club format—with dinner, drinks and his musical and his comedy routines—was popular with local fans and visitors from around the world. The club's menu included the "One Pound Pork Chop," along with other selections.
His routine included corny jokes and wild hat and costume routines that
Dee was noted for. A lover of animals, Dee often included his pet dogs (particularly one black poodle he owned named "Miss Muffett") in his routine, with the dogs barking along with some of his numbers.
His television credits include appearances on Toast of the Town with Ed Sullivan, The Tonight Show with Jack Paar, The Lawrence Welk Show, and later Nashville Now.
Dee even had his own show in the mid-50s on WFLA-TV in called Ladies' Day with Lenny Dee; it enjoyed a brief run. Tampa, Florida