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Big Band Trumpeter Buddy Childers Dies at 81

Marion “Buddy” Childers, a trumpeter who was still musically active more than six decades after joining Stan Kenton’s band in 1942, died in Los Angeles on May 25 following a long illness. Childers was only 16 when he first sat in with Kenton’s band. Kenton was reportedly so impressed with the teenager’s playing that he asked him to join the band that same day. Childers quickly graduated to first trumpet chair.

Born in St. Louis, the self-taught Childers first picked up the instrument at age 12 and was working professionally by 14. By Childers’ own recollection, Kenton was a tough boss, and Childers once recalled that he quit and rejoined the band on eight separate occasions. He finally left Kenton in 1954.

During his career, Childers also played with such giants as Woody Herman, Les Brown, André Previn, Benny Carter, Charlie Barnet and Tommy Dorsey. From the late ’50s and throughout most of the ’60s, Childers worked in Las Vegas, before moving to L.A., where he worked as a studio session musician into the ’80s. He also put in time with the Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabackin big band, and served as Frank Sinatra Jr.’s musical director. In addition, Childers worked on TV and in films. He continued to record and perform until the 21st century.

Originally Published