People we love: Doc Severinsen

Carl Hilding “Doc” Severinsen, Born on July 7, 1927

Born on this Day in 1927

Those of us who have reached a certain age remember American composer and jazz trumpeter Doc Severinsen for his role in leading the NBC Orchestra on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

While his father wanted him to study the violin, Severinsen insisted on the trombone, but settled for a trumpet because that was all that was available in their Arlington, Oregon music store. By the time he was seven, he was good enough to be invited to join the high school band.

He won the Music Educator’s National Contest at the age of 12. He had been hired to go on the road with the Ted Fio Rito Orchestra when he was in high school but World War II intervened and Severinsen was drafted into the Army.

Severinsen first played on the Tonight Show when Steve Allen was hosting in 1952. He later joined the Tonight Show Band just a few months before Johnny Carson became host in 1962. He became the bandleader in 1967. He continued in that role as bandleader until Carson retired in 1992.

He still performs on a regular basis with the group Doc Severinsen & the San Migeul.

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