Band leader carrying on Heidt family tradition

Paul Andersen, Enjoy!

BURBANK -- Since he was 3, Horace Heidt Jr. has known what he wanted

to do when he grew up. After joining his father, a big band leader, at

work one day, he knew he wanted to follow in his father's footsteps.

Now, 30 years after taking over the family business, he still loves

what he is doing.

"Each job is different," he said, "and it is never boring."

His next job is on the Fourth of July at the Starlight Bowl in

Burbank, where he will lead the Horace Heidt Jr. Orchestra in a program

of big band and patriotic songs, spinning out musical fireworks before

the actual skyrockets are launched.

In 1921, Horace Heidt Sr. began what would be an illustrious career as

a big band leader and entertainer. He had innumerable hits with his

Musical Knights, a group that boasted such musicians as Gene Krupa, Glenn

Miller, Al Hirt and Lionel Hampton among its ranks, as they made concert,

night club and radio appearances throughout the United States.

Later, he went on to host the first audience participation giveaway

radio program, "Pot of Gold," a precursor to the ubiquitous game show.

Then he moved on to a new medium, television, where he hosted the first

talent show series.

Among the performers who appeared on it were Art Carney, Pete Fountain

and Ken Berry. That is why the elder Heidt has two stars on the Hollywood

Walk of Fame -- one for radio, one for television.

The father insisted that the son should have a good education, which

he received at private boarding schools, a necessity since he was on the

road constantly. Heidt Jr. credits this background in solidifying his

career in music.

"Music was always an important part of the curriculum with marching

bands and dance bands," he said. "I especially liked playing in the dance

bands. It is pretty much where I got my training in playing both the

trumpet and the drums."

He went on to attend Stanford and UCLA, where he majored in drama and

music. After graduation and a stint in the Army Reserves, the younger

Heidt began his musical career in earnest, quickly moving from sideman to

bandleader, all the time building his own reputation.

Over the years, he has maintained a constant schedule of cruises,

concert tours and all sorts of events, including performances at

President Ronald Reagan's inaugural ball and at the 1996 Republican

National Convention in San Diego.

He has also served as musical director at Disneyland, helping to put

together the popular big band series at both that park and at Disney

World in Florida. And, for 13 years, his orchestra was the official band

of the Los Angeles Raiders, playing at every home game.

The orchestra has recorded a new CD, titled "New Heidts," that

features a wide array of material from big band classics to Raider theme

songs, some of which will probably find their way into the holiday show.

"We're going to do a combination of big band swing music with a couple

of professional dance couples, along with some patriotic material," he

said.

"And we've got some talented vocalists appearing with us, too. Kate

Butterfield; Stephanie Monaco from Glendale, who used to be with the

Harry James Band; Phil Sadalla from the Legends show in Las Vegas; and

Joanna Pacitti, who I first heard singing the national anthem at a Lakers

game. It should be quite a show."

IF YOU GO

WHO: The Horace Heidt Jr. Orchestra and the All-American Boys Chorus.

WHAT: "Bursting Out With Red, White and Blue" Fourth of July holiday

concert.

WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 4 (gates open at 6 p.m.).

WHERE: Starlight Bowl, 1249 Lockheed View Drive, Burbank.

TICKETS & INFO: 525-3721.

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