MORBID CURIOSITY: Celebrity Tombstones Across America | home
AALIYAH | Lucille Ball | Milton Berle | Les Brown | Karen Carpenter | Charles Chaplin's Son (Little Mouse) and Buckwheat | James Dean | The Del Rubio Triplets Minus Two | Morton Downey Jr | Roy Rogers and Dale Evans | Richard Farnsworth | John Gotti | Vince Guaraldi | Harry Houdini | Meyer Lansky | Liberace | Julie London | Raymond Massey | Marilyn Monroe | Jim Morrison | Carroll O'Connor and his son Hugh | Papa John Phillips | Elvis Presley | Mario Puzo | Claude Rains | Joey Ramone | The Rat Pack: Frank, Dean, Peter, and Sammy | STUDIO 54 owner Steve Rubell: Pasha of Disco | Gene Siskel | Ann Sothern | Andy Warhol
March 14, 1912 - January 4, 2001
Les was born and raised in Tower City, Pennsylvania, the son of a baker and musician. His love for music must have been inherited because his father also loved music. The only reason why he worked as a baker was because he couldn't support his family as a musician. His father's instrument of choice was the trombone and often he would play with his three brothers in a sax quartet. Most of the songs that they played were favorites of the day, such as John Phillips Sousa.
Les' exposure to music came at a very young age and he began playing music as soon as he could walk. His father taught music to all his sons and introduced Les to the cornet. Les instead took to the sax and played it smoothly and by the age of nine, Les joined his first professional band. The only thing that held him back was his attire, he didn't have any long pants at the time, so he borrowed a short 16 year old neighbor's pants and he was in.
Recognizing his son's innate talents he sent Les to the Ithaca Conservatory of Music instead of traditional high school. Les jumped at the chance for two reasons, one, because he loved music and two, so he could bypass a career in the bakery.
By the time Les had reached his second year at the Conservatory (1927), he felt the need to lead his own band. His first professional band were named The Rainbow Men. The band's colorful name reflected their rainbow colored sashes that they wore in front of their tuxedos.
After graduating he had no problem finding work in his chosen profession. One the things that helped his career immensely was his position with an NBC wire. A "wire" was a live radio link that enabled bands of that era to play simultaneously for the audience in a ballroon that they played and for a radio audience nationwide. This exposure led to many record deals.
In 1944, the famous, "Les Brown and the Band of Renown" was born. It's genesis innocently began one night when the band was about to perform live on the radio from the Palladium. They were about to go on the air and the announcer was ad-libbing because their trombone player, Sy Zentner, wasn't in his place. The theme song at the time featured the trombone, so the band couldn't go on the air. The band was nervously waiting until Sy was found and he hastily took his place with the band. While Sy was taking his place the announcer kept saying things like, "from the nation's capitol, where we have cherry blossoms..." Finally after being given the okay he said, "Here's that band of renown, Les Brown." The rest is history.
Les Brown Yesterday and Today
Les' career was a long one and continued to play up until the 1990's. As a matter of fact, in April of 1996, the Guinness Book of World Records awarded Les with the distinction of being the leader of the longest lasting musical organization in the history of pop music.
In 2001, Les died of lung cancer.
He is buried in Westwood Cemetery, Los Angeles, California