Where those associated with Western films from around the world are laid to rest.
Saturday, December 2, 2017
RIP Mundell Lowe
R.I.P. Mundell Lowe
Jazz guitarist takes last solo
December 2, 2017
Legendary jazz guitarist Mundell Lowe passed away on the
morning of December 2 at the age of 95.
Lowe grew up in Mississippi and, at 17 years old in 1939,
joined Pee Wee King’s western swing band, which had a regular slot on the Grand
Ole Opry radio program. Producer John Hammond helped Lowe earn a spot in an
orchestra fronted by Ray McKinley of the Glenn Miller band.
He moved to New Orleans and then was drafted into the
Army in 1943. He reported for his work assignment at Fort
McPherson, where he remembered, “This
fat desk sergeant from Arkansas
was interviewing me. I informed him that I was a professional working guitarist
and was hoping to be assigned to the military band somewhere. Meanwhile, he’s
flipping through some book and announced that there weren’t any ‘gee-tar jobs’
in the Army. I got sent to the Engineering Corps instead.”
Upon his release in 1945, Lowe headed to New York City, where he
worked for NBC for around 13 years and recorded on a number of albums with over
two dozen well-known jazz performers. He also performed music for TV programs
such as the Today Show, the Wild Wild West, Hawaii Five-O, and others. In addition,
he played with Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Lester Young, and Benny Goodman.
“I have to be somewhat careful about who I
play with, because I have so many specific harmonic references, but I find if I
pick the right people, I can just hear what they’re doing and everything
As for playing with the notoriously
volatile bassist/bandleader Charles Mingus, “We were friends,” Lowe recalled.
“I never had any problems with Charles. He was a really brilliant guy. He was
like other stars I played with, Buddy Rich, or Mel Tormé, or Ray Brown. I let
them do the leading, and everything flowed from there.”
In September 2008, Lowe won a lifetime
achievement trophy at the San Diego Music Awards. As he approached his 90s,
Lowe was living in Tierrasanta with his wife Betty, a well-regarded jazz
vocalist. His 95th birthday was staged at Dizzy’s this past April, featuring
appearances by Lowe with Jaime Valle, Bob Boss, Jim Plank, Rob Thorsen, and Bob
Died: 12/2/2017, Tierrasanta, San Diego, California
westerns – composer, music director, conductor:
A Time for Killing – 1967 [composer]
Dundee and the Culhane
(TV) – 1967 [composer]
The Wild Wild West (TV) – 1968 [composer, conductor]
The Andersonville Trial
(TV) – 1970 [music director]
Born in Toledo, Ohio in 1946 I have a BA degree in American History from Cal St. Northridge. I've been researching the American West and western films since the early 1980s and visiting filming sites in Spain and the U.S.A. Elected a member of the Spaghetti Western Hall of Fame 2010.