Pete Fountain (born Pierre Dewey LaFontaine, Jr., July 3, 1930), is a world-renowned American clarinettist based in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. He has played jazz, Dixieland, Pop Jazz, Honky-Tonk Jazz, Pop, and Creole music.
Pete Fountain was born in New Orleans and started playing clarinet, heavily influenced first by Benny Goodman and then by Irving Fazola. Early on he played with the bands of Monk Hazel and Al Hirt. With his long time friend, trumpeter George Girard, Fountain founded The Basin Street Six in 1950. After this band broke up four years later Fountain was hired to join the Lawrence Welk band, and became well known for the many solos he took on Welk's ABC television show, The Lawrence Welk Show.
Fountain returned to New Orleans, played with The Dukes of Dixieland, then began leading bands under his own name, owning his own club in the French Quarter in the 1960s and 1970s. He later acquired "Pete Fountain's Jazz Club" at the Riverside Hilton in downtown New Orleans.
The New Orleans Jazz Club presented the Pete Fountain Day on October 19, 1959, with celebrations honouring the pride of their city concluding with a packed concert that evening. His Quintet was made up of his studio recording musicians, Stan Kenton's bassist Don Bagley, vibes Godfrey Hirch, pianist Merle Koch and the outstanding double bass drummer Jack Sperling. Fountain brought these same players together in 1963 when they played the Hollywood Bowl. Pete would make the trek to Hollywood many times appearing on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson 56 times.
Here's "St. Louis Blues" taken from above 1959 album.
Fountain's clarinet work is noted for his sweet fluid tone. He has recorded over 100 LPs and CDs under his own name, some in the Dixieland style, many others with only peripheral relevance to any type of jazz.
In 2003 Fountain closed his club at the Hilton with a performance before a packed house filled with musical friends and fans. He then began performing two nights a week at Casino Magic in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi where he had a home (later destroyed by Hurricane Katrina).
After heart surgery in 2006 he performed at JazzFest, and helped reopen the Bay St. Louis Casino which has the new name of the Hollywood Casino. As of March, 2007 he has returned to performing Tuesday and Wednesday nights there.
Fountain was a founder and is the most prominent member of The Half Fast Walking Club, one of the best known marching Krewes that parades in New Orleans on Mardi Gras Day. The original name was "The Half-Assed Walking Club" and was an excuse to take a "lubricated" musical stroll down the parade route. Pete changed the name under pressure exerted by the parade organizers.
After heart surgery in 2006, he performed at [the] JazzFest, and helped reopen the Bay St. Louis Casino in Bay St. Louis, MS. It has since been renamed the Hollywood Casino. On March 18, 2007, Pete Fountain was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.
He performed his last show at the Hollywood Casino on December 8, 2010. (info mainly edited from Wikipedia)