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Jerry Jerome Dies at 89

Jerry Jerome, a featured saxophonist in the Glenn Miller, Red Norvo, Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw orchestras, died at his home in Sarasota, Fla., on Nov. 17. He was 89.

Born with the Christian name Jerold on June 19, 1912, Jerome studied saxophone, flute, harmony and orchestration as a young man. Apparently, however, he regarded this as preparation to become a doctor; he attended the University of Alabama and its medical school from 1930 to 1935. An invitation to tour with banjoist Harry Reser and his Cliquot Club Eskimos pulled him away from school and onto the road in 1935, after which he gave up those schoolboy dreams of medicine for a practical career as a professional musician.

After recording with Reser in 1936, Jerome made his way to New York, where he hooked up with Glenn Miller’s band. Following a stint with Norvo, he joined the Goodman band at the height of its popularity; when Goodman disbanded his ensemble, he transferred to Shaw’s band along with many other former Goodman sidemen. As a member of Shaw’s band he appeared in the film Second Chorus in 1940.

After he left Shaw’s band in 1941, Jerome worked as a radio and television music director. He eventually built a successful jingle-writing career, contributing to the national consciousness such catchy ditties as “Winston tastes good, like a cigarette should.”

He retired to Sarasota in 1972, but continued to play at local festivals and concerts. He also continued recording, now for Arbors; his latest CD, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, is scheduled for release in December.

Jerome is survived by his wife, Elaine; four sons, Al, Bill, Jim and Jerry; a stepson, David Frankel; two daughters, Joanne Kelvin and Barbara Mazzei; two sisters, Dorothy Kahn and Elsie Abeles; a brother, Irv; 11 grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.

Originally Published