b. Carl Hilding Severinsen, 7 July 1927, Arlington, Oregon, USA. After playing trumpet in several name bands during the late years of the swing era (including the Charlie Barnet, Tommy Dorsey, and Benny Goodman bands). Severinsen began a long career as a studio musician in New York in 1949, becoming assistant leader of Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show orchestra in 1962. Following Lyle ‘Skitch’ Henderson’s sudden departure in 1967, he became the orchestra’s leader. In addition to leading the band and playing trumpet, he frequently wisecracked with host Carson, all of which helped to make him one of the best-known musicians in the USA. A sound, if occasionally over-spectacular, trumpeter, Severinsen’s later work on the west coast displayed an interest in jazz rock. When Carson retired in 1992, Severinsen and his orchestra were replaced by the band brought in by new host Jay Leno.
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