fall 2012 Norman Leyden graciously agreed to a series of personal
interviews with David Boe and Ellen Vanderslice. Our
intent is write the Norman Leyden story. David Boe is the
lead author and Ellen Vanderslice is assisting with project
management and logistics.
died on July 23, 2014 at the age of 96. David and Ellen visited
him the evening before his death. Our project to tell the
story of Norman's long and musical life continues.
a link to a short biography on Wikipedia:
David Boe writes:
for the project was an unusual one. Norman Leyden and I had
the same barber. It was at a local hair cutting salon that
the idea for a biography first came about. When I mentioned
to my regular stylist that I was a musician, she began talking
about Norman Leyden. Suki had been Dr. Leyden's stylist for
the last few years, and he always had amazing stories to tell.
He had worked with everyone, she said; from playing with and
arranging music for great Glenn Miller band during World War
II to working with some of the top entertainers of all time,
including many of the most famous people from the big band
era. As she cut his hair, he would regale her with amazing
stories from a career in music that spanned some seventy years.
ninety-one years old, and he still plays his clarinet every
day," Suki said.
if anyone is writing this stuff down," I wondered aloud.
"Do you know if he has a biographer?"
Over the next
couple of years, I probably saw Suki a half dozen times. She
promised to mention my idea to Mr. Leyden, and a highly informal
and improbable line of communication was opened.
remained a reluctance on my part. Surely, someone far more
qualified than I would be able to step in and ensure that
these great stories would not be lost!
Vanderslice, a local singer, composer and fellow band member
with the Carroll Raaum Swing Orchestra in Portland, Oregon.
When I discussed the idea with her, Ellen shared my appreciation
for the project, and brought in the fresh enthusiasm, perspective
and drive required to move forward. Ellen encouraged me to
make contact with Dr. Leyden, and to my surprise, my inquiries
were received very positively.
and I were fortunate enough to spend many hours with Norman,
a man of great integrity, humor and generosity. In sharing
with us his unique perspective on some of the most significant
moments of his very long, full, and successful life, Norman
also conveyed many valuable lessons.