Gene Norman, DJ And GNP Crescendo Founder, Passes at 93
November 24, 2015 at 12:39 PM (PT)
GENE NORMAN, jazz impresario, disc jockey and label president, passed away peacefully at his home in HOLLYWOOD, CA, on NOVEMBER 2nd at the age of 93.
Born in NEW YORK, EUGENE NABATOFF graduated UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN, and began his radio career in SAN FRANCISCO, before moving to L.A. in the '40s.
A jazz buff, NORMAN soon became L.A.'s leading disc jockey via stints on various local stations, including KLAC. He initiated a series of jazz concerts throughout the SOUTHLAND across two decades, including dates featuring BENNY GOODMAN, PEGGY LEE and ERROLL GARNER. His BLUES JUBILEE programs at the SHRINE AUDITORIUM in the early '50s attracted some of the first integrated audiences in the U.S.
NORMAN also introduced the "Snader Telescriptions," an MTV-styled concept documenting recording personalities of the era, on NBC-TV. He hosted the first-ever televised jazz concert on KTLA, as well as "The GENE NORMAN Show’ and ‘Campus Club’ on KHJ.
While a DJ at KFWB, NORMAN organized jazz concerts at venues like PASADENA CIVIC AUDITORIUM and the HOLLYWOOD BOWL with artists like DIZZY GILLESPIE and SHORTY ROGERS under the aegis GENE NORMAN PRESENTS, which were recorded and released on DECCA, CAPITOL and MODERN RECORDS.
In 1954, NORMAN opened the CRESCENDO nightclub on the SUNSET STRIP, which featured an adjunctal venue, the INTERLUDE, upstairs, showcasing artists like ELLA FITZGERALD, BOB NEWHART, JOHNNY MATHIS, STAN KENTON, HERB ALPERT's TIJUANA BRASS, LENNY BRUCE, DON RICKLES, RUSTY WARREN, MORT SAHL, WOODY ALLEN and LOUIS ARMSTRONG.
NORMAN produced a series of live albums and studio recordings based around his promotions, setting up his own record label, GNP CRESCENDO, serving as one of the directors of the RIAA. He was elected into the HALL OF FAME of the AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF INDEPENDENT MUSIC in 1991.
GNP CRESCENDO evolved into a vast and varied catalog, including acts such as THE SEEDS, JOE & EDDIE, QUEEN IDA (who garnered a GRAMMY for the label), WRECKING CREW regular BILLY STRANGE, BING CROSBY, GARY RICHRATH and many original film and television soundtracks. The label operated out of offices on the SUNSET STRIP for more than five decades. NORMAN is survived by his son, musician/producer/director NEIL NORMAN, who will continue to run the label.