Warren Lewis Covington (August 7, 1921 – August 24, 1999) was an American big band trombonist. He was active as a session musician, arranger, and bandleader throughout his career.
As a child, Covington first studied trombone, with a private instructor in a suburb of his hometownin Philadelphia. He subsequently studied composition with Danny Hurd at New York University; and voice with Dr. Stetson Humphrey in Hollywood, California.
His career began in the late 1930s. In 1939, he played with Isham Jones. He worked with the Horace Heidt orchestra from 1941-'43.
During World War II, he served in the U.S. Coast Guard, 1943-45, incl. "Tars and Spars" show. In November 1945, Covington resumed work as a sideman, with Les Brown, remaining with Brown for five or six months, followed by a brief period with Gene Krupa. Following this he became a staff musician for CBS radio. He led a group called The Commanders 1946-47.
He worked with Ralph Flanagan in 1949 and again in 1955-56. He was briefly with Tommy Dorsey in 1950. He also played with Henri Rene between 1953 and 57. In 1956, he replaced Eddie Grady as leader of the Commanders, a Decca recording and touring band which lasted until the middle of 1957. Covington recorded two albums and one single with this band.
After Tommy Dorsey died suddenly in November 1956, the Dorsey band continued under the direction of Jimmy Dorsey. However, the Tommy Dorsey estate soon took back Tommy's arrangements and approached Covington to form a new Tommy Dorsey band, which he led. As it turned out, Covington not only kept the band going, but got one of the very last hits to come out of a swing ensemble with "Tea for Two Cha-Cha" which sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. The track peaked at #3 in the UK Singles Chart in 1958.
With strong support from Decca, Covington led the Dorsey band for 3-1/2 years, through September 1961 with his wife Kathee Covington, as singer. However, having to play 6-7 nights a week took its toll, and even before his contract was up, he began hoping for a less hectic pace. So, he gave the estate a year's notice, and then continued on as 'Warren Covington and orchestra.'
The Covington-led band pumped out a healthy batch of albums well into the 1960s also touring and recording for Decca, from 1961.The handwriting was on the wall, though, and Covington pulled the plug around 1965, heading back to the studios in New York. Covington was certainly a proficient trombone player, but more than that, he was a trombone believer as demonstrated by a small sample of his own compositions: " Trombonitis," "Toy Trombone," "Trombone Boogie," "Sentimental Trombone," and "Tipsy Trombone."
Over the next ten years, he played on hundreds of albums, everything from soundtracks for The Godfather, Barbarella, and Woody Allen's Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex--But Were Afraid to Ask to the Allmann Brothers, Perry Como circa early 70s, and George Benson.
Despite his lucrative career as a session man, Covington liked to keep a hand in the performing side of business. He led his own band in New York City clubs in the late 1960s, toured with a late incarnation of the Pied Pipers around 1973, and ran a supper club in Ocean City, Maryland, for the summer crowds, in the late 1970s. Covington also backed Charles Mingus, Randy Weston, Bobby Hackett, and George Benson on big band recordings, and did a number of film soundtracks.
He visited the United Kingdom in 1974 for a 22 day tour, featuring Dorsey alumni Sy Oliver, Skeets Herfurt, Johnny Mince, and Pee Wee Erwin. He performed in a PBS-TV fundraiser, "Big Band Bash," taped in New York City in 1978; and an appearance at one of President Reagan's inaugural balls in Washington, D.C. in January 1985. He played a one-nighter at the Palace Theater in Canton, Ohio in May 1986.
Warren was married three times, Florence Deans (first three boys) from Philadelphia, Beverly (called her Kathie) (two girls and a boy) and Sylvia whom he wed on Dec. 19, 1990, Buddy Morrow was the best man and Connie Haines sang.
Warrendied on August 24, 1999 in Safety Harbour, Florida, aged 78. (Info edited from various sources mainly Wikipedia & Space Age Pop.com)
Here’s a clip when Warren led the Tommy Dorsey ghost band in the 70', The female vocalist beside him is Lynn Roberts. . A few years after making some very appealing Dorsey-style recordings of recent pop songs for Reader's Digest in 1969, he applied to the U.S. Patent Office for rights to the names "The Pied Pipers" and "The Clambake 7." He used those trademarks to play in tribute to Tommy.