Bill Clifford

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b. 1917, Hollywood, California, USA, d. 1984, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. After majoring in music at the University of South California, Clifford began his professional music career by playing violin with…
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b. 1917, Hollywood, California, USA, d. 1984, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. After majoring in music at the University of South California, Clifford began his professional music career by playing violin with Anson Weeks in San Francisco. He then doubled up on both violin and trombone with dance bands led by Griff Williams and Gary Nottingham, also performing as co-vocalist with the latter. He formed his own band in 1941 in San Francisco, quickly securing employment at the local Bal Tabarin club. By 1942 Bill Clifford And His Orchestra were the first act to take the stage at the newly opened El Rancho in Las Vegas, the first entertainment hotel in the region. Ranging in size from 12 to 15 members, with vocalists including Mary Marshall, Betty Holt, Louise Vienna and Johnny Cochran, their theme song was ‘My Bill’. During World War II Clifford was enlisted in the navy, but made the most of his limited musical opportunities by leading the naval band for Admiral Nimitz. On his return to civilian life he restarted his own band, and took another engagement at the Bal Tabarin in 1946. His other main employer during the late 40s would be the Fairmont Hotel. He became musical director at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas in 1949, but was soon drawn back to the big band touring circuit with bookings in Chicago (the Aragon Ballroom) and New York (the Waldorf-Astoria hotel). He became a residential musical director for the second time at the Riverside Hotel in New York, remaining there for six years. Two years followed at Bombo’s 365 Club in San Francisco. He finally gave up bandleading in 1960 when he took up the presidency of the KUPD radio station in Phoenix, Arizona. That lasted until the early 70s when he led the band for impressionist Jim Bailey, then took over as musical director in New Orleans.