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ELMER HITES - THE JAZZ MAN

ELMER HITES - THE JAZZ MAN

Secret Garden of Sensual Delights - Columbus

Da Rev's dad lived in Largo, Pinellas County, Florida. He passed away 12-2-2005 at Largo Medical Center.

Elmer (Russell) Hites was born October 16, 1914 in Bucyrus, Ohio to Albert, proprietor of the Square Deal Automotive Garage and Mayme (Hess) Hites, into a generation that knew the meaning of privation and sacrifice. He graduated from Bucyrus High School, attended University of Michigan and received his B.S.B.A. from Ohio State University. He remained a lifelong fan of Bucyrus bratwurst and OSU Football. Elmer began playing classical piano and church organ at the Methodist Church (for $5./week) during his school years, transitioning to boogie-woogie as he grew into a jazz aficionado.

He switched to cornet and played steadily in dance bands through high school and college before going on the road at the height of the Swing Era in the late 1930s. The many memorable associations Elmer formed as a professional musician included working on a band with multi-instrumentalist, composer-arranger-conductor Abe (Glenn) Osser in Michigan. Abe played all reed instruments and violin. He could fill in on brass and piano. He was conductor of symphony recording orchestras. As Glenn Osser he was a successful A&R exec with Mercury Records, where he was responsible for choosing the material and overseeing the production on Brook Benton's string of hits.

In Columbus, Elmer was on the band that played a live daily breakfast show from the State Restaurant that was broadcast over WBNS-AM. Elmer lived and worked with the always affable and humorous crooner Dean Martin in Columbus (Dino Croscetti of Steubenville, Ohio). Dad had horrific nightmares, flashbacks of a deadly nightclub fire in which at least one of his bandmates was killed. One night he managed to crawl through the upstairs window of the hotel room he shared with Dino and out onto the dormer. Dino, awakened by the shouts and screams that accompanied Elmer's night terror, leaped from the bed and reached out to grab a fistful of Elmer's night-shirt tail just before he would have surely leaped two stories to the street. Yup, Dino borrowed a few bucks from time to time - and didn't always pay it back - but he was a lifesaver - and an all-around great roommate.

Dad also toured on a cruise ship with "The Siamese Twins Orchestra" - two sisters joined at the trunk area, who exploited the curiosity surrounding their unfortunate physical predicament by performing songs and shtick with a jazz-pop orchestra. After a sabbatical of 15 years or more from dance bands, Elmer resumed playing weekends with The Romo Combo throughout the Dayton-Miami Valley area as the ‘50s segued into the ‘60s. He sacrificed his time working extra hours playing music and working two jobs to pay for college for Art and his brother Johnny.

Elmer worked in sales and in a machine shop before joining the Defense Department during WWII. He retired as an executive with the Air Force Logistics Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, in 1972. He never stopped improvising. From time to time, as he looked back over the years, he remarked, "You know, I've had a really good life."

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