Rhode Island native Ronnie Brown was a respected jazz pianist whose career began as an organist and choir director at the age of 12. Brown earned both a bachelor's and master's degree from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, and shortly afterward, Brown enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving as an assistant conductor and music theory instructor for the military's band. During the late '50s, Brown became one of the world's top jazz pianists, as he either arranged for or played on-stage alongside such notables as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., and Dean Martin (Playboy Magazine even nominated him among the nation's top 75 pianists in its annual All-Star Jazz Poll for three years in a row). One of Brown's trademarks was incorporating bits of such classical icons as Bach and Mozart, as well as jazz/swing notables Art Tatum and Oscar Peterson, into his music. In the '60s, Brown held down a residence at the Balboa Bay Club, playing there for two decades. In the later years of his life, Brown retired from music as his family settled in Orange County, CA. He passed away in late 2000, at the age of 68.
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