Saturday, July 7, 2018

Vital Viewing (Late Night Swing Edition)

Jazz trumpeter and bandleader Doc Severinsen was born on this day in 1927. If the opinion of the fellow on the right is any indication, he seems to have been very good at his job. In the following clip from a little more than a year ago, Severinsen, still in his 80s, talks about his upcoming birthday:


He looks in great shape for his age, but I don't think I've ever seen Severinsen that casually dressed before. He usually looks something like this: 

Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours.

--Genesis 37:3

(Actually, Doc's real first name is Carl, not Joseph.)

In the following clip, Doc gets high:

 Anything to please the boss. 

Now for some Cole Porter, but first, in case you're not familiar with the term:


1. A ballroom dance similar to the foxtrot, based on a dance of Martinique and St. Lucia.
2. The music for this dance.

[French (West Indies) béguine, from French béguin, hood, flirtation, from beguine, Beguine; see Beguine.]

And just think, Doc managed that not in Martinique and St. Lucia, but a TV studio in Burbank.

For those of us who were around back then, here's the beginning we most associate with Severinsen:

Just think, Doc had to play that theme five nights a week and still make it sound fresh. He succeeded.


  1. So talented and he was always so entertaining. Remember when he was apparently drunk on the Thanksgiving show? One of the funniest segments.

    1. Oh, yes, Mitchell, I do remember it. Johnny used to show the clip on every anniversary show (along with Ed Ames tomahawk throw.) I was thinking of showing it here but decided to go with something not quite as familiar.

  2. Hi, Kirk!

    It was a pleasure to see the recent clip of Doc and to know he is still going strong, still a great musician and still the cool cat I remember from his years on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. I believe Doc's even temperament, then and now, is one of the main factors that explain his longevity. I started watching The Tonight Show at a very early age when it was hosted by Steve Allen. I followed it through the Jack Parr years and the Johnny Carson years. When Leno took over as host I switched to Letterman. Tonight Show bandleaders I recall from those earlier years of the series included José Melis, Skitch Henderson and Milton Delugg.

    Thanks for posting this tribute to a living legend, Doc Severinsen, now age 91. Enjoy your weekend, good buddy Kirk!

    1. Shady, Carson wanted Letterman to succeed him as Tonight Show host, but NBC had other ideas.

      Re: Doc Severinsen, now age 91.

      Shady, too often celebrities who I like die and I don't find out about it until years later, so it's a treat to do something on Doc while he's still around. Speaking of which, doing this post made me curious--MORBIDITY ALERT!--about Tommy Newsom, Severinsen's staid-but-good-natured saxophone player and backup conductor who Carson often poked fun of (calling him "Mr. Excitement") He died in 2007. And, of course, both Johnny and Ed are no longer with us. Doc survives them all.

    2. I well remember "Mr. Excitement" Tommy Newsom. He was a good sport for putting up with Carson's kidding all those years. I didn't know he died.

  3. I bet the bands of all talk shows probably get sicked and tired of it.

    Cue the Flintstones dinosaur tool

    "It's a living."

  4. I suppose they could just play a recording of the theme, Adam, but that might something away from it.