Ernie Heckscher

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b. 19 July 1916, England, d. 16 January 1996, USA. Raised in San Francisco, California, USA, Heckscher had already embarked on a musical career long before attending Stanford University. Something of…
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b. 19 July 1916, England, d. 16 January 1996, USA. Raised in San Francisco, California, USA, Heckscher had already embarked on a musical career long before attending Stanford University. Something of a child prodigy because of his banjo playing, by the time he was 15 he was already a professional musician. He later switched to piano, which became his primary instrument. While at Stanford he put together his own dance band, and they soon became the dominant musical force on campus. When college ended he relocated the band to the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, and quickly repaid the faith of its owners when, with a significant audience retained from his college followers, he was able to draw capacity crowds. He toured widely in the 40s, playing hotels and ballrooms in Memphis, San Antonio and St. Louis, before he was drafted into the army in 1943. Discharged two years later, he pieced his band back together and secured a booking at the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago for a full year. When he returned to San Francisco he found employment at the Mark Hopkins Hotel. In 1948, he took his band to the Fairmont Hotel playing a residency there until his retirement in the mid-80s.