Author and musician George T. Simon, who played drums with the Glenn Miller Band and wrote acclaimed books and liner notes on the swing era, has died. He was 88.
Simon died Tuesday at New York University Medical Center. The cause of death was pneumonia following a battle with Parkinson’s disease, said a friend, archivist Grayson Dantzic.
In 1937, while working as a writer for Metronome magazine, Simon sat in with the fledgling Glenn Miller Band and played drums as the band recorded its first half-dozen songs.
But he opted to stay in writing, and became Metronome’s editor in chief in 1939. He held the job for 16 years, championing such artists as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Peggy Lee.
His music career included writing lyrics for Duke Ellington and Alec Wilder--sometimes under the pseudonym Buck Pincus.
As a journalist, he worked for the New York Post and the now-defunct New York Herald-Tribune. Eventually, Simon wrote several books on the swing era: “The Sinatra Report” in 1965, “The Big Bands” in 1968, and “Glenn Miller and His Orchestra” in 1974.
Simon was born in New York City, the son of a milliner. At Harvard University, he organized his own band before graduating in 1934 and taking a job at Metronome. He changed the magazine’s focus from articles on instrument-making and publishing to items about recordings and the noted big-band leaders of the day.
He served for a time as executive director of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the organization behind the Grammy Awards.
In 1977, Simon won a Grammy Award for best album liner notes--his contribution to the collection “Bing Crosby: A Legendary Performer.”
Survivors include his wife of 53 years, Beverly Jean Simon; a daughter; son; and three grandchildren.