When I was 16, Doc Severinsen was the guest soloist at our high school for one night. It was a thrill for me to perform with him in the concert band and stage band. The stage band at Paschal had won the national championship the previous two years, so I knew I was in a good high school band. I played second trumpet to John Thomas, who now teaches at USC, and played lead trumpet for Count Basie, Woody Herman, The North Texas One O’Clock Lab band, and many others.
Around 2000, I was concerned that this recording of that one concert with Doc would never be heard again if we didn’t transfer the recording to CD. Even I wasn’t playing my old records much anymore! So, I went to the band hall at Paschal and borrowed all the tapes that had survived and transferred them to CD. This particular performance was taken from our record from that year, so I didn’t need the tape on this one. But I did transfer many, many concerts from the mid to late 60’s from Paschal. Not everything was there, but I think about 50% had survived. As it was, some of the old reel to reel tapes were splitting on me, so I knew we had to get this done soon than later.
This recording was Doc playing with our stage band. Doc was 38 at the time, and was not yet the leader of the Tonight Show band, although he had been on the staff at NBC for years as a sideman in the band that Skitch Henderson conducted. Doc was trying to be a trumpet soloist, and was touring the country trying to get established as a great soloist.
I have noticed as the years have gone by that these recordings of Doc playing with a high school, or college band are worth a lot of money. I tried buying some, but the prices were getting to be about $500, so I gave up. School bands don’t turn out very many copies of a record, so the ones that survive are very special. This is a rare recording of one of the greatest musicians we have ever heard, on a night when he was only 38 years old and sounding great. It was another episode in my life that made me want to go into music. Doc made it look like fun. The concert was in Will Rogers Coliseum in Ft. Worth in 1967, and Doc’s sound was so large, he could have played without a microphone. I hope you enjoy hearing Doc 48 years ago, and I feel good that this concert was preserved for future generations to hear. If we don’t preserve and transfer our old tapes and records, especially low minted live concerts, the music will be lost forever.