Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Billy Mayerl born 31 May 1902

William Joseph Mayerl known as Billy Mayerl (May 31, 1902 – March 25, 1959) was an English pianist and composer who built a career in music hall and musical theatre and became an acknowledged master of light music.  

Best known for his syncopated novelty piano solos, he wrote over 300 piano pieces, many of which were named after flowers and trees, including his best-known composition, Marigold (1927). He also ran the successful School of Syncopation for whose members he published hundreds of his own arrangements of popular songs. He also composed works for piano and orchestra, often in suites with evocative names such as the 'Aquarium Suite' (1937), comprising "Willow Moss", "Moorish Idol", "Fantail", and "Whirligig". 

Mayerl was born in London. His father Joseph was an Austrian violinist; his mother Elise was Dutch, the daughter of a military bandsman. He trained as a classical pianist, but was always scandalising his teachers with his preference for stride. His fluency as a performer was honed during his teenage employment as a pianist for silent movies: six days a week, five hours a night, he improvised music to whatever he saw on the screen, using classical as well as ragtime sources.  

One night in 1921, an American band, on their way to an engagement at the Savoy, docked at Southampton without a pianist, their regular man having fallen ill just before the ship sailed. They checked into the Polygon, the very hotel where Mayerl was playing that night, and strolled down to the lounge for a drink. Hearing him play, the bandleader Bert Ralton addressed him in Chandleresque style - "You play nippy, kid" - before asking him if he'd like to join them for their Savoy residency.  

Mayerl never looked back. He became a fixture at the Savoy, whose ballroom attracted a fashionable crowd for late-night dancing. His own dazzling piano pieces were not ideally suited to dancing, especially as he couldn't resist hair-raisingly fast speeds, but far from resenting his cavalier attitude to their footwork, the dancers just used to come to a halt when the going got too hot, and watch him admiringly. His solos were, in fact, a piano equivalent of Fred Astaire's solo spots: ordinary dancers would have had to clear the floor for Astaire, too.  

During his years at the Savoy, the band started broadcasting on radio, and Mayerl's dazzling piano solos were a special feature. His broadcasts were eagerly awaited by many thousands of fans. One recalled listening to his radio under the bedclothes after lights out. Thus Billy performed the remarkable feat of appealing simultaneously to adults and teenagers.  

After leaving the Savoy, he toured all over the world, incorporating into his shows the unusual feat of playing two pianos at once. He also started the Billy Mayerl School of Piano Playing, which he taught by correspondence, sending out tutor books with his own exercises and advice on the "syncopated piano style". His school was hugely successful, with branches and managers all over the world. Its 37,000 students included the former King Edward VIII, living in retirement as Duke of Windsor. After the second world war, Mayerl worked for the light music unit at the BBC, writing and broadcasting until 1956, three years before his death. 

In May 1958, after years of steady performance, Mayerl made his last BBC broadcast on the show Desert Island Discs hosted by Roy Plomly, signing off as always with "Goodbye chaps and chapesses." This time it was really for good, and he retired from radio and recording. One more publication did appear in early 1959.
Billy Mayerl (a heavy smoker for many years) finally met his demise from a heart attack and stroke at his home in Beaconsfield, Marigold Lodge in March 1959. His novelties remain popular into the 21st century, being rediscovered by a new generation of ragtime and stride pianists. 

He was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium in north London on 31 March 1959 and his ashes placed in the Cedar Lawn Rose Bed. His name is listed in the Book of Remembrance. (Info edited from Wikipedia and an article by Susan Tomes @ the Guardian.com)

Monday, 30 May 2016

Mel Blanc born 30 May 1908

Melvin (Mel) Jerome Blanc (May 30, 1908 – July 10, 1989) was an American voice actor and comedian. Although he began his nearly six-decade-long career performing in radio and television commercials, Blanc is best known for his work with Warner Bros. during the Golden Age of American animation (and later for Hanna-Barbera television productions) as the voice of such iconic characters as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Sylvester the Cat, Tweety Bird, Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam, Barney Rubble, Mr. Spacely, and hundreds of others. Having earned the nickname "The Man of a Thousand Voices", Blanc is regarded as one of the most gifted and influential persons in his field. 

American entertainer Mel Blanc, who would make his name and fortune by way of his muscular vocal chords, started out in the comparatively non-verbal world of band music. He entered radio in 1927, and within six years was co-starring with his wife on a largely adlibbed weekly program emanating from Portland, Oregon, titled Cobwebs and Nuts. Denied a huge budget, Blanc was compelled to provide most of the character voices himself, and in so doing cultivated the skills that would bring him fame.  

He made the Los Angeles radio rounds in the mid-1930s, then was hired to provide the voice for a drunken bull in the 1937 Warner Bros. "Looney Tune" Picador Porky. Taking over the voice of Porky ("Th-th-th-that's all, Folks") Pig from a genuine stammerer who knew nothing about comic timing, Blanc became a valuable member of the "Termite Terrace" cartoon staff. Before long, he created the voice of Daffy Duck, whose lisping cadence was inspired by Warner Bros. cartoon boss Leon Schlesinger.  

In 1940, Blanc introduced his most enduring Warners voice -- the insouciant, carrot-chopping Bugs Bunny (ironically, Blanc was allergic to carrots). He freelanced with the MGM and Walter Lantz animation firms (creating the laugh for Woody Woodpecker at the latter studio) before signing exclusively with Warners in the early 1940s. Reasoning that his limitless character repetoire -- including Sylvester, Foghorn Leghorn, Speedy Gonzales, Tweety Pie, Pepe Le Pew, Yosemite Sam and so many others -- had made him a valuable commodity to the studio, Blanc asked for a raise. Denied this, he demanded and got screen credit -- a rarity for a cartoon voice artist of the 1940s.  

Though his salary at Warners never went above $20,000 per year, Blanc was very well compensated for his prolific work on radio. He was a regular on such series as The Abbott and Costello Show and The Burns and Allen Show, and in 1946 headlined his own weekly radio sitcom. For nearly three decades, Blanc was closely associated with the radio and TV output of comedian Jack Benny, essaying such roles as the "Si-Sy-Si" Mexican, harried violin teacher Professor LeBlanc, Polly the parrot, and the sputtering Maxwell automobile. 

While his voice was heard in dozens of live-action films, Blanc appeared on screen in only two pictures: Neptune's Daughter (1949) and Kiss Me Stupid (1964). Extremely busy in the world of made-for-TV cartoons during the 1950s and 1960s, Blanc added such new characterizations to his resume as Barney Rubble on The Flintstones (1960-66) and Cosmo Spacely on The Jetsons (1962). 

On January 24, 1961, Blanc was involved in a near-fatal car accident, as he was going to a studio to work on a commercial. He was driving alone when his sports car collided head-on with a car driven by 18-year-old college student Arthur Rolston on Sunset Boulevard. Rolston suffered minor injuries, but Blanc was rushed to the UCLA Medical Center with a triple skull fracture that left him in a coma for two weeks, along with sustaining fractures to both legs and the pelvis.  

About two weeks after the accident, one of Blanc’s neurologists tried a different approach. Blanc was asked, “How are you feeling today, Bugs Bunny?” After a slight pause, Blanc answered, in a weak voice, “Eh... just fine, Doc. How are you?” The doctor then asked Tweety if he was there too. “I tot I taw a puddy tat,” was the reply. Blanc returned home on March 17. Four days later, Blanc filed a US$500,000 lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles. His accident, one of 26 in the preceding two years at the intersection known as Dead Man's Curve, resulted in the city funding restructuring curves at the location. 

Blanc began smoking cigarettes when he was 9 years old. He continued his pack-a-day habit until he was diagnosed with emphysema, which pushed him to quit at age 77. On May 19, 1989, Blanc was checked into Cedars-Sinai Medical Center by his family  when they noticed he had a bad cough while shooting a commercial; he was originally expected to recover. Blanc's health then took a turn for the worse and doctors found that he had advanced coronary artery disease.

He died on July 10 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California at the age of 81. He is interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California. Blanc's will stated his desire to have the inscription on his gravestone read, "THAT'S ALL FOLKS" (the phrase was a trademark of Blanc's character Porky Pig.) (Info edited from AMG & Wikipedia)

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Saxie Dowell born 29 May 1904

Horace Kirby "Saxie" Dowell (May 24, 1904 – July 22, 1974) was an American jazz and pop music bandleader and singer and songwriter. 
The saxophonist with the nickname all other saxophonists are glad they didn't get stuck with was also extremely active as a songwriter and music publisher during his career. Surely there was an impetus to replace the stuffy sounding Horace K. Dowell he was given at birth in Raleigh, North Carolina near the outset of the 20th century.

He became Saxie Dowell by the time he began his first major professional affiliation, also his longest, with orchestra leader Hal Kemp. The nickname most likely developed due to the fact that Horace got his first saxophone at the age of 12 and carried it with him most everywhere. 

The job with Kemp actually began in the campus setting as well, Kemp himself a UNCG graduate. By 1924 the band was well into touring and recording nationally and internationally. Covering tenor and alto saxophone, clarinet and flute, Dowell was in the Kemp band for the next 15 years. Dowell composed "I Don't Care", which was recorded by Kemp for Brunswick in 1928. When the band's style changed in the early 1930s to that of a dance band, Dowell became the group's comedic vocalist.

Three Little Fishies" became a smash hit in 1939 and Dowell was embroiled in a legal dispute with the uncredited lyricists Josephine Carringer and Bernice Idins. Due to the success of the song Dowell left Kemp that same year and organized his own band which effortlessly survived the transition into Navy life in the early '40s. In 1940 he wrote the popular song "Playmates", which was set to a plagiarized melody. During World War II he served heroically in the navy aboard the ill-fated aircraft carrier USS Franklin (CV13). 

Dowell's U.S. Naval Air Station Band became one of the most famous in history for staying on its set list even while the aircraft carrier the band was serving on was in the process of sinking. After the war managing not to associate band-leading with both war and sinking ships, Dowell reorganized his orchestra and got some good bookings, mostly around the Chicago area with the then 14-year-old Keely Smith as a singer He, appeared in a movie short during 1946 and made a few recordings for the Sonora label. He became a disc jockey for Chicago radio station WGN around 1949. 
Saxie Dowell's song credits include "I Don't Care", "Your Magic Kisses", "Three Little Fishies", "Playmates" ("Come Out and Play With Me"), "The Canasta Song", "Tonight I'm Thinking Of You", "All I've Got Is Me" and "Turnabout is Fair Play". 
Dowell kept his group going into the '50s, but eventually got into the publishing end of the business. His own writing credits include "Three Little Fishes." He was in his late sixties, and it was also the late '60s, when doctors sent him out to Arizona for his health. He did some part-time DJ work on KTAR in Phoenix during his retirement years. He died  22 July 1974, Scottsdale, Arizona, aged 70.     (Info edited from Wikipedia & AMG)


Saturday, 28 May 2016

T-Bone Walker born 28 May 1910

Aaron Thibeaux "T-Bone" Walker (May 28, 1910 – March 16, 1975) was a critically acclaimed American blues guitarist, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who was an influential pioneer and innovator of the jump blues and electric blues sound. In 2011, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him at number 67 on their list of "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".

Walker was born in Linden,
Texas, of African-American and Cherokee descent. Walker's parents, Movelia Jimerson and Rance Walker, were both musicians. His stepfather, Marco Washington, taught him to play the guitar, ukulele, banjo, violin, mandolin, and piano.

Walker began his career as a teenager in Dallas in the early 1900s. His mother and stepfather (a member of the Dallas String Band) were musicians, and family friend Blind Lemon Jefferson sometimes came over for dinner. Walker left school at the age of 10, and by 15 he was a professional performer on the blues circuit. Initially, he was Jefferson's protégé and would guide him around town for his gigs.  

In 1929, Walker made his recording debut with Columbia Records billed as Oak Cliff T-Bone, releasing the single "Wichita Falls Blues"/"Trinity River Blues". Oak Cliff was the community he lived in at the time and T-Bone a corruption of his middle name. Pianist Douglas Fernell played accompaniment on the record. 

Walker married Vida Lee in 1935; the couple had three children. After moving to Los Angeles around 1936, he began performing regularly in the clubs along Central Avenue, then the centre of the city's jazz and blues music scene. He started as a singer and dancer with jazz and early jump-blues bands, such as Les Hite and his orchestra, but by 1940 was playing electric guitar and singing in his own small combos. His particular style of jazz-influenced blues guitar and showmanship, which included playing the guitar behind his neck and while doing the splits, brought him to the attention of Capitol Records.

Much of his output was recorded from 1946 to 1948 on Black & White Records, including his most famous song, 1947's "Call It Stormy Monday (But Tuesday Is Just as Bad)". Other notable songs he recorded during this period were "Bobby Sox Blues" (a #3 R&B hit in 1947), and "West Side Baby" (#8 on the R&B singles charts in 1948).
Throughout his career Walker worked with top-notch musicians, including trumpeter Teddy Buckner, pianist Lloyd Glenn, Billy Hadnott (bass), and tenor saxophonist Jack McVea.

Following his work with White and Black, he recorded from 1950 to 1954 for Imperial Records (backed by Dave Bartholomew). Walker's only record in the next five years was T-Bone Blues, recorded over three widely separated sessions in 1955, 1956 and 1959, and finally released by Atlantic Records in 1960.

By the early 1960s, Walker's career had slowed down, in spite of a
hyped appearance at the American Folk Blues Festival in 1962 with pianist Memphis Slim and prolific writer and musician Willie Dixon, among others. However, several critically acclaimed albums followed, such as I Want a Little Girl (recorded for Delmark Records in 1968).  

Walker recorded in his last years, from 1968 to 1975, for Robin Hemingway's Jitney Jane Songs music publishing company, and he won a Grammy Award for Best Ethnic or Traditional Folk Recording in 1971 for Good Feelin′, while signed by Polydor Records, produced by Hemingway, followed by another album produced by Hemingway: Walker's Fly Walker Airlines, which was released in 1973. 

Walker's career began to wind down after he suffered a stroke in 1974. He died of bronchial pneumonia following another stroke in March 1975, at the age of 64.

Walker was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980, and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.(Info Wikipedia) 

London. Nov 30th,1966. Jazz at Philharmonic are: Dizzy Gillespie, Teddy Wilson, Louis Bellson, Clark Terry, Coleman Hawkins, Zoot Sims, Jimmy Moody, Benny Carter and Bob Cranshaw.


Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Max Bennett born 24 May 1928

Max Bennett (born May 24, 1928) is an American jazz bassist and session musician. He is perhaps the most recorded bass player in the world, having recorded every year for 68 years, and counting. 

John Williams, Max Bennett, Howard Roberts, 1956
One of the most versatile of session bassists, Max Bennett hailed from the Midwest. He was raised in both Kansas City and the town of Oskaloosa in Iowa, and undertook his university musical studies in the latter state. In 1949, he went professional as the bassist in the Herbie Fields band, followed rapidly by gigs with players such as Georgie Auld, Terry Gibbs, and Charlie Ventura. 

The stream of happening basslines was interrupted by the Army from 1951 through 1953; he was then back on the scene with Stan Kenton before settling into the stay-at-home local Los Angeles music scene. The bassist fronted his own combo during this period, and was part of a house band at the Lighthouse, a famous L.A. jazz venue. 

He also began backing Peggy Lee, the first of his many associations with female vocalists, which would include Ella Fitzgerald in the late '50s and Joan Baez in the '70s. He also recorded with Charlie Mariano, Conte Candoli, Bob Cooper, Bill Holman, Stan Levey, Lou Levy, Coleman Hawkins and Jack Montrose.

Bennett was part of the Jazz at the Philharmonic tour in 1958 and rejoined his former associate Gibbs the following year. In the '50s he also began releasing sides under his own name, an area of creativity he would return to off and on through his career whenever his schedule would permit. His studio activity drew him solidly into the world of pop music, beginning in an era when hit makers often relied on studio pros to actually play the instruments heard on a record.  

The best example in this case would be the Monkees, who had to battle mightily just to be allowed to touch their instruments on record. Bennett is the bassist on many of this group's best records, and also holds down the bottom end on cuts by the Partridge Family. His association with the latter group serves as one link between such bubblegum pop and the unsavoury taste of Frank Zappa.  

                     Here's "Star Flite from above 1987 album.

Bennett was one of the studio players brought in to realize the Hot Rats project, Zappa's regular band having gotten the heave-ho only weeks before the sessions began. Bennett also showed up on later Zappa masterworks such as Chunga's Revenge. While Bennett can't rival Zappa in the sheer number of compositions he created, he has also been active as a writer and has had material recorded by west coast stalwarts such as Victor Feldman and Tom Scott.  

His studio work also included bass on the Lalo Schifrin soundtrack to the 1969 film Bullitt as well as Greatest Science Fiction Hits Volumes 1-3 with Neil Norman & His Cosmic Orchestra. 

Bennett continued with his own band, L.A. Express, which included Joe Sample, Larry Carlton and John Guerin, under the leadership of Tom Scott. After this band, Bennett formed his own group Freeway, and currently heads his most recent band, Private Reserve. (Info edited from AMG & Wikipedia)

Living bass legend, Max Bennett with Mike Miller on guitar and Roy Weinberger on drums take cool to a new level at TC Electronic's booth at NAMM 2012.

 FOOTNOTE: Max continued to perform with his last group, Private Reserve, until his death on September 14, 2018

Monday, 23 May 2016

Humphrey Lyttelton born 23 May 1921

Humphrey Richard Adeane Lyttelton (23 May 1921 – 25 April 2008), also known as Humph, was an English jazz musician and broadcaster from the aristocratic Lyttelton family. 
Raised in an academic atmosphere (his father G.W. Lyttelton, the second son of the 8th Viscount Cobham, was a housemaster at Eton College), he taught himself to play a variety of instruments including the banjulele (a hybrid of the banjo and ukulele). His prodigious talent was spotted early and he was given formal lessons on piano and, a little later, in military band drumming. Eventually, his education took him back to Eton College, this time as a pupil. He joined the school orchestra as a timpanist but after a while drifted away from the orchestra and the instrument.   

At the age of 15 he discovered jazz, thanks to records by trumpeters Nat Gonella and, decisively, Louis Armstrong. By this time Lyttelton had switched to playing the mouth-organ, but, realizing the instrument's limitations, he acquired a trumpet, which he taught himself to play. Forming his own small jazz band at the college, he developed his playing ability and his consuming interest in jazz. With the outbreak of World War II he joined the Grenadier Guards, continuing to play whenever possible. 

After the war Lyttelton resumed playing, this time professionally, and in 1947 became a member of George Webb's Dixielanders. The following year he formed his own band and quickly became an important figure in the British revivalist movement (during this time he also worked as a noted cartoonist for the UK newspaper Daily Mail). In the late 40s and through to the mid-50s Lyttelton's stature in British jazz increased. Significantly, his deep interest in virtually all aspects of jazz meant that he was constantly listening to other musicians, many of whom played different forms of the music. Although he was never to lose his admiration for Armstrong, he refused to remain rooted in the revivalist tradition.  

His acceptance and absorption of music from the jazz mainstream ensured that when the trad boom fizzled out, Lyttelton continued to find an audience. In the mid-50s he added alto saxophonist Bruce Turner to his band, outraging some reactionary elements in British jazz circles, and a few years later added Tony Coe, Joe Temperley and other outstanding and forward-thinking musicians.  In 1956, he had his only pop chart hit, with the Joe Meek-produced recording of "Bad Penny Blues", which was in the UK Singles Chart for six weeks.

In the early 60s Lyttelton's reputation spread far beyond the UK and he also developed another important and long-term admiration for a trumpet player, this time, the American Buck Clayton. By this time, however, Lyttelton's personal style had matured and he was very much his own man. He was also heavily involved in many areas outside the performance of music. 

In 1954, he had published his first autobiographical volume and in the 60s he began to spread his writing wings as an essayist, journalist and critic. He also broadcast on radio and television, sometimes as a performer but also as a speaker and presenter. These multiple activities continued throughout the next two decades, his UK BBC Radio 2 series, The Best Of Jazz, running for 40 years. His writings included further autobiographical work and his ready wit found outlets in seemingly unlikely settings, such as his role as quiz master on the long-running radio comedy-panel series, I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue (he hosted the show from 1972 until his death in 2008).   

During this time Lyttelton continued to lead a band, employing first-rate musicians with whom he toured and made numerous records. He also toured and recorded with singers Helen Shapiro, Carol Kidd and Lillian Boutté. Back in the late 40s Lyttelton had recorded with Sidney Bechet and in the 70s and 80s he occasionally made albums with other American jazz. 

In the early 80s Lyttelton formed his own recording company, Calligraph, and by the end of the decade numerous new albums were available. In addition to these came others, mostly on the Dormouse label, which reissued his earlier recordings and were eagerly snapped up by fans of all ages. In the early 90s, touring with Kathy Stobart, Lyttelton showed no signs of letting up and barely acknowledged the fact that he had sailed past his 70th birthday. In 2001, his 80th year, he sessioned on Radiohead's Amnesiac and received an award at the BBC Jazz Awards, continuing to perform with undiminished flair and enthusiasm. In 2002 he recorded an album with singer Elkie Brooks, and for the next five years continued to release regular recordings with his new band.
On 18 April 2008 Jon Naismith, the producer of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, announced cancellation of the spring series owing to Humphrey Lyttelton's hospitalisation to repair an aortic aneurysm. Lyttelton postponed his operation and managed to perform on all but the last night. He died peacefully following his surgery on 25 April 2008 with his family around him.  

Although he chose to spend most of his career in the UK, Lyttelton's reputation elsewhere was extremely high and thoroughly deserved. As a trumpet player and band leader, and occasional clarinettist, he ranged from echoing early jazz to near-domination of the British mainstream. For more than 50 years he succeeded in maintaining the highest musical standards, all the time conducting himself with dignity, charm and good humour.
(info edited mainly from NME)

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Peter Nero born 22 May 1934

Peter Nero (born Bernard Nierow, May 22, 1934, Brooklyn) is a pianist and New York native who started with jazz then moved up to symphony until the early '60s, when RCA Victor signed him and successfully promoted him into a pop music interpreter. He won the 1961 Grammy for Best New Artist. His lush orchestrated albums continued through the early '70s, when he returned to a harder jazz format, recording with a trio.  
Nierow began playing piano as child, learning the instrument quite rapidly; by the age of 11, he was playing Haydn concertos. However, he was restless and quickly grew tired of classical music, becoming infatuated with jazz as a teenager. In fact, after Nero graduated from Brooklyn College in 1956, he became a jazz pianist. However, instead of playing straight jazz, he created a swinging hybrid of jazz and classical music.  

Nierow didn't have much success as a performer, which meant he had to take a gig as a saloon pianist in a New York club called the Hickory House. Unsatisfied with the compromises he was making at the club, he headed out to Las Vegas, where he didn't find much success. He returned to New York, taking a lesser job at the Hickory House. For several years, he played New York's club circuit and he recorded his first album under the name of Bernie Nerow in July 1957 under the Mode label which highlighted his technical virtuosity in the jazz genre. He then came to the attention of Stan Greeson, an executive at RCA Records. 

His first major national TV success came when he was chosen to perform Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue on Paul Whiteman's TV Special. He subsequently appeared on many top variety and talk shows including 11 guest appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, and numerous appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. 

Convinced that Nierow had star potential, Greeson signed the pianist and had him change his name to Peter Nero; he also persuaded Nero to add pop songs like "Over the Rainbow" to his repertoire. His first RCA LP, "Piano Forte," was an immediate success and Nero began touring as a solo artist. That same year, he won the Grammy for Best New Artist.  

Nero's popularity continued to rise throughout the early '60s; his jazzy hybrid of pop, classical, swing, and bop became one of the most popular mainstream sounds of the era. Since then, he has received another Grammy, garnered ten additional nominations and released 68 albums. Nero's early association with RCA Victor produced 23 albums in eight years."Hail the Conquering Nero" topping out at #5 on the Billboard LP chart. His subsequent move to Columbia Records resulted in a million-selling single and album – Summer of '42.

Eventually, he became the musical director of the Philadelphia Pops Orchestra, where he frequently performed classical arrangements of pop songs. Nero was founding conductor and led the Philly Pops for 35 years until 2013.
Theatrical producer Moe Septee founded the Philly POPS in 1979 as part of an effort to rekindle Philadelphia’s struggling theater community.  Grammy Award-winning pianist Peter Nero's recordings include albums with symphony orchestras: On My Own, Classical Connections and My Way. He recorded Peter Nero and Friends where he collaborated with Mel Torme, Maureen McGovern and Doc Severinsen and others. Nero's latest albums, Love Songs for a Rainy Day and More in Love, focus on romantic themes. By popular demand, four of his earlier recordings have been reissued. He also appeared on Rod Stewart's album As Time Goes By: The Great American Songbook, Volume II. 

Nero has worked with a long list of notable musicians including Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams, Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie, Diane Schuur, Johnny Mathis, Roger Kellaway and Elton John.

Nero's long list of honours, including six honorary doctorates, the most recent from Drexel University in 2004, and the prestigious International Society of Performing Arts Presenters Award for Excellence in the Arts. In 2009 Nero was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Federation of Musicians.

He has continued to appear on the concert platform as a pianist and conductor, often with top US symphony orchestras, still blending the classical with the popular.

(Info edited from Wikipedia & Cub Koda, Rovi)