The tale of the Elizalde brothers sounds like it would be perfect for a '40s-era musical comedy. Manuel Elizalde and Fred Elizalde, scions of an extremely rich family in the Philippines, are sent off to a series of first-class educational institutions: Cambridge, Harvard, Stanford. Instead of preparing for some sort of respectable career they indulge their talents in music -- and not the stuff of pomp and circumstance, either. Armed with skills appropriate to the tasks at hand (saxophone and clarinet for Manuel, piano and arranging for Fred), the brothers begin co-leading and otherwise collaborating on trashy, low-brow dance band schemes.
They are well into a solid run at a Los Angeles hotel when the stuffy parents intervene, shipping the brothers off to London, England, where they will supposedly be out of reach of any and all Roaring Twenties jazz fads. Not! The brothers are well able to continue their musical adventure in the shadow of Big Ben. In fact, one of the musical advantages of coming from a rich family becomes obvious in this situation. "Why don't you run off to New York City and sign us up some of the best musicians?," Fred asks Manuel while pouring over an arrangement. Manuel Elizalde -- nickname "Lizz" -- does just that, returning from the Big Apple with the likes of Adrian Rollini, Art Rollini, Max Farley, Chelsea Quealey, Fud Livingston, and Bobby Davis. In other words, he purchased much of the cream of the big city recording scene.
What became known as Fred Elizalde & His Anglo-American Orchestra was active from the mid- to late '20s until the leader and big brother wandered off to pursue classical studies. Manuel Elizalde did not grow much of a pineapple in the music business after this. There is reason to believe, examining lineups of the Elizalde orchestras, that he was not always participating in the performances themselves, and may have been more of an organizational or promotional assistant. Offspring Manuel Elizalde, Jr. easily overshadows his father in terms of an exciting, controversial biography: he was a playboy as a young man, became an anthropologist, was at the heart of what many scientists felt to be a hoax concerning the long-lost Tasaday tribe, looted millions from the national treasury following the fall of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and died a drug addict in Costa Rica.