Conrad Lanoue

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With a surname that looks a result of a jumble sale on vowels, Conrad Lanoue was active in the overlapping musical worlds of big band jazz and dance bands for a half a century. His best-known role was…
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With a surname that looks a result of a jumble sale on vowels, Conrad Lanoue was active in the overlapping musical worlds of big band jazz and dance bands for a half a century. His best-known role was as an accompanist to the one-armed trumpeter Wingy Manone, with whom he worked pretty steadily between 1936 and 1940. By the time this gig started the pianist was closing in on his 30th birthday. He began playing when he was ten-years-old, undertook formal studies at the Troy Conservatory, and began performing professionally at hotels in his hometown of Cohoes, New York in the early '20s. His initial associations were with bandleaders whose territory was upstate New York, a far cry from the manic intensity of the Big Apple jazz scene.

Lanoue picked up the pace somewhat when he began gigging with the goofy singer and bandleader Louis Prima in the mid-'30s. Shortly thereafter he fell in with Manone's band; up until the '40s he was also collaborating with fellow pianist and arranger Joe Haymes, and was quite likely to have several arrangements on commission for various big bands. The second half of Lanoue's career, a period roughly spanning the early '40s up to his retirement in 1968, was mostly spent in dance bands led by Lester Lanin, Hal Landsberry and Charles Peterson. Ill health finally forced Lanoue away from the ivories and he died four years after retiring.