- The Washington Times - Friday, October 29, 2004

Lester Lanin, 97, bandleader

NEW YORK (AP) — Bandleader Lester Lanin, who supplied music for presidential inaugurations, Queen Elizabeth’s 60th birthday party and gatherings hosted by the Rockefellers, duPonts and Chryslers, died Wednesday. He was 97.

Mr. Lanin led his band in playing Dixieland, swing and light rock ‘n’ roll for every presidential inauguration since Eisenhower’s, except two — those of Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush.

He serenaded Grace Kelly at her engagement party and Prince Charles and Princess Diana at their wedding. In all, he played at some 20,000 wedding receptions, 7,500 parties and 4,500 proms, and recorded more than 30 albums.

As many as 12 bands toured under his name at once. Even at the time of his death, there were two, though Mr. Lanin himself stopped conducting in 2001. He once said he slept only an hour or two before hopping a plane to his next engagement.

Mr. Lanin was born in Philadelphia in 1907, the youngest of 10 boys. His father was a bandleader, along with six of his brothers.

He first intended to become a lawyer, but dropped out of school at 15 to play with his brothers’ bands.

Before leading his own bands, he worked as a booking agent, employing such musicians as Louis Armstrong and Doc Severinsen.

He was inducted into the Big Band Hall of Fame in Palm Beach, Fla., in 1993.

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