Diary of a Young Musician - Final Days of the Big Band Era
In Diary of a Young Musician, 1948-1962, Felix Mayerhofer, from Port Chester, N.Y., grew up fast when he went from Juilliard School of Music in New York City as an innocent teenager to the professional "dog…
In Diary of a Young Musician, 1948-1962, Felix Mayerhofer, from Port Chester, N.Y., grew up fast when he went from Juilliard School of Music in New York City as an innocent teenager to the professional "dog eat dog" world of big bands. It was there he encountered drugs, drinking, and women while traveling on the road. After a couple of years in an air force band during the Korean War (an activated air national guard unit), it was back on the road with more jazz groups, then finally working the showrooms of Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe and Reno. Felix married Shirley Wagner (Wagonseller), a beautiful dancer at Harrah's Club in Lake Tahoe where his life began to return to normal. During the previous 14-year period, he managed to receive a degree in music education, where a part of his time at college had the semblance of a scene from a Dostoyevsky novel. His long tour in the South before the 1950's was an eye opener for a young boy: problems with a sheriff in Macon County, Georgia, who had a dislike for New Yorkers, and scary run-ins with corrupt policemen in New Orleans, raising his awareness that the situation in that part of the country was more devastating for blacks. The momentous social changes he described in the land of magnolias and mint juleps before the civil rights upheaval and the above events are a fast read, filled with humor, excitement, and in some cases sadness.
About the author: Felix Mayerhofer, born and raised in Port Chester, NY, in 1930, is the son of the late Simon & Maria Mayerhofer. Simon was a respected professional linguist & Maria a reputable choir director for Corpus Christi Church for 35 years. At age 19, Felix attended Juilliard School of Music on full scholarship. While practicing one day in his hotel room, he was interrupted by a knock on the door and was offered a job to go on the "road" with the Ina Ray Hutton-Randy Brooks Band. He also played with Bobby Byrnes & Sonny Dunham until the Korean War. His 552nd Air National Guard Band was stationed at March Air Force Base (CA) for 2 years. Upon his discharge, his sister, vocalist Scottee Marsh, and her lead trumpet husband, Carl Erca, got him a job with the Bernie Cummins Band. He also performed with the Ray McKinley Band until he joined the hit Decca Records recording band, Eddie Grady and the Commanders. He received his B.S. in Music Education from the SUNY, Potsdam. He then worked with the Allen Keller Trio in Florida, New York City, Las Vegas and Reno. While in Reno, Felix joined a jazz-pop group, Nancy Lee and the Bachelors. They were headliners in Lake Tahoe & Reno casinos before performing at the Dream Room on Bourbon St. in New Orleans for an extended stay. After that he played with a variety of bands. He toured and recorded with Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians for a year - until he met his future wife, Shirley Wagner (Wagonseller), a professional dancer at Harrah's Club in Lake Tahoe. Felix and comedian-musician Bobby Day formed a comedy team, "The Unpredictable Day and May," which toured for a brief time. Felix taught in the Palmdale School District for 27 years teaching concert and jazz bands at all levels until his retirement. While teaching he received an M.A. from Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, CA. Since retirement, he has written 36 children's stories.
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