b. USA. Hal Pruden often billed himself as ‘the world’s fastest piano player’. Said to have been capable of playing more notes per second than any other pianist, he had survived scarlet fever and inflammatory rheumatism as a child. This illness had severely affected his hands, rendering them temporarily paralysed, which made his ultimate dexterity with keyboards all the more remarkable. His talents were soon recognised with employment in bands led by Chuck Foster and Bob Crosby. He formed his own dance band in 1946 in Los Angeles, California, USA, primarily as a ‘piano showcase’ orchestra. They were signed up by the MCA organisation, who booked tours for them throughout America. With their theme song, ‘Busybody’, the group played many of the major hotels and ballrooms, including the Mapes Hotel (Reno), the Baker Hotel (Dallas), the Shamrock (Houston), the Roosevelt (New Orleans), the Peabody (Memphis) and the Statler (Boston). Their longest engagement was at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. Pruden gave up band leading in 1953, but remained an in-demand pianist.
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