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Severinsen, Carl

Born: 1927 AD
Currently alive, at 91 years of age.
2.4 (48.75%) 16 votes

US bandleader and musician


1927 – July 7 – in Arlington, OR


1945 – Upon finishing school, he joined a succession of touring big bands starting in 1945, including Tommy Dorsey (where he was a featured soloist), Charlie Barnet, Benny Goodman, and Noro Morales.


1949 – he settled in New York, where he worked as a staff musician for NBC and a recording session sideman, backing the likes of Dinah Washington and Anita O’Day.


1952 – He moved over to television, and appeared on the original, Steve Allen-hosted Tonight Show as a member of Skitch Henderson’s orchestra.


1962 – when Carson took over the show, Henderson made Severinsen his assistant orchestra leader. Around the same time, Severinsen cut the first of a series of albums for the Command label; his earlier efforts were largely standard big-band swing, but by the late ’60s he had moved into groovy, swinging instrumental pop in the so-called "now sound" vein, often arranged by Dick Hyman


1966 – Henderson abruptly departed The Tonight Show under still-mysterious circumstances. Milton DeLugg briefly took over as his replacement, but Severinsen was promoted to the post of orchestra leader and musical director in 1967. Severinsen would sometimes substitute for Ed McMahon as announcer and sidekick. Although adept at comic interplay, Severinsen took his role as band leader on The Tonight Show seriously and campaigned for the band to get featured slots during the show. His outlandish, brightly colored wardrobe and easy comic chemistry with Carson quickly cemented him into the job, where he would stay for the next 25 years.


1992 – Carson’s retirement that year ushered in major changes at The Tonight Show, and new host Jay Leno let Severinsen and the band go. Severinsen quickly gathered some of the band’s most prominent members, and embarked on a sort of farewell tour of America. He would continue to tour with many of them during the ’90s.


1999 – He returned with "Swingin’ the Blues", which featured a generous selection of Tonight Show Orchestra alumni.



2.4 (48.75%) 16 votes