Bobby Christian


A longtime fixture of the Dick Schory Percussion Pops Orchestra, percussionist, arranger, and composer Bobby Christian also headlined a series of space age pop LPs much sought after by exotica aficionados. Born Sylvester Christian in Chicago on October 20, 1911, he acquired his first drum kit at the age of six, later studying for two decades under the famed percussion educator Roy Knapp (who also tutored Gene Krupa and Hal Blaine). Christian quit school at 14 to join Chicago bandleader Louie Panico, spending the next five years playing at the local Canton Tea Gardens. In 1930, he began a two-year tour in support of singer Sophie Tucker, finally returning to the Windy City and signing on with violinist Eddie Varzo. Christian rose to national prominence in 1938 after joining the famed Paul Whiteman band as a drummer and arranger. The grind of touring wore him down, however, and upon returning to Chicago in 1940, he remained there throughout the decade, joining Roy Shield's NBC radio orchestra and enjoying a lucrative career playing on advertising jingle sessions. Christian also worked under conductor Fritz Reiner with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and in 1944 founded the Bobby Christian School of Percussion, which counted among its students future drumming greats Cozy Cole and Lou Singer. In 1950, he relocated to New York City, where he rejoined Whiteman for the ABC television program Tales of Tomorrow. In 1955, he joined the legendary Arturo Toscannini's NBC Symphony of the ...

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