Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Count Basie at Disneyland, June 1974

My pal "Mr. X" used to work at Disneyland when he was a teenager, and he regularly visited the Carnation Plaza Gardens to watch the many legendary big bands as they performed there. And... he brought his camera! He was nice enough to let me scan some of his photos to share here.

In this series of images, we'll see Count Basie and his orchestra, from June 23rd, 1974. Count Basie! Pretty amazing. Here's the Count himself addressing the crowd. Imagine getting to see such a renowned musician on a warm summer night.

Luckily for me, Mr. X knows a lot about the big bands of this era, and he said that the guitarist is Freddie Greene. The gentleman playing trombone is Al Grey - this was his last year with the band.

There's the Count and Freddie Greene again, along with Norman Keenan on the stand-up bass.

Here is Jimmy Forrest on saxophone; the drummer (to the extreme left) is Harold Jones, who also played drums regularly for Sarah Vaughn.

Mr. X says, "This is a nice shot of the well known trombonist Al Grey soloing. On the other tenor sax chair is Eddie Lockjaw Davis.  The tenor sax player on the left is Jimmy Forrest. That is Paul Cohn on lead trumpet (second from left with glasses). And lower left is Freddie Greene, rhythm guitarist who had been with Basie since the beginning in 1934. The lead alto sax player, next to Eddie Davis, is Bobby Plater". 

Thank you to Mr. X for the images and information!


Nanook said...


One of Disneyland's extra treasures - the great jazz musicians who played there. And in such an intimate and up close and personal setting, besides-! Just the thought of doing something akin to that today seems beyond reachable. And just think - a few months earlier, Count Basie could be seen playing in the "middle of nowhere", thanks to his cameo in Blazing Saddles-! What a great treat to see these talented musicians again.

Thanks "Mr. X" and the Major.

K. Martinez said...

Oh, wow!! This is fantastic! I remember these bands and I did go to Disneyland in June 1974 for sure. Sadly, they just don't have entertainment like that today at the Park.

Thanks so much Mr. X and Major. These are absolutely wonderful!

DrGoat said...

I'll second that. Wow. We were certainly in Disneyland then but my poor tired brain can't dredge up any real clear memories. Did love all the different types of bands that played in Disneyland, and the jazz bands were the ones that stand out.

Anonymous said...

These pictures have real historic value above and beyond their nostalgia to us Disneyland nuts. The heroes of jazz, up close and personal.

Great stuff Major.


Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, it’s funny, I just watched Blazing Saddles in its entirety a few months ago - Mel Brooks came out afterwards for a Q&A. It was amazing! 90 years old, and he had so much energy he barely sat down.

K. Martinez, I would assume that Disneyland must have paid OK fees to these bands, or they wouldn’t show up. That probably wouldn’t happen these days.

DrGoat, according to Mr. X, he wanted to take photos of Duke Ellington, but it was so crowded that he couldn’t get anywhere near him!

JG, there’s more to come! Stay tuned.

TokyoMagic! said...

These photos are priceless, Major! Unfortunately, I never went over to the Plaza Gardens to see any of the Big Bands perform, although I do remember hearing the music as we walked by. I was too young and I didn't know any better! I might have mentioned this before, but I did make a point to see Pearl Bailey perform at Disneyland when I was only seventeen.

Anonymous said...

Working the Westside in those years, I heard many a band and saw many of the legendary figures. It was such a simpler and intimate time that I took for granted. Wish I could relive them. The pictures bring those sounds back for me. KS

Melissa said...

And you could just get in free with Park admission? No separate hard ticket charge? How times have changed!

walterworld said...

Beautiful shots, all. And it's great to see 'Ancient' Freddie Greene sitting there by The Count as always...