Monday, January 26, 2009

Arthur Zepp

Arthur Zepp is a tough one to find information about on the internet. He was a professional pianist and music teacher. Towards the end of his career he lived in Spokane. I took piano lessons from him for about two years in the early 1960s. He had some talented students, of whom I was not one. Yet, I hung around long enough to learn about basic chords, which has served me well enough over the years. --

The July 15, 1945 issue of Box Office Magazine, in an article titled “Hollywood At War,” states that on July 4th, more than 350,000 people gathered under the Washington Monument to see a troupe of Hollywood stars give an hour and 40 minute performance. It was the biggest war bond rally up to that date. Performers on that bill included Lucille Ball and Dinah Shore.

Meanwhile, some lesser stars performed their first break-in show at the Long Beach Naval Hospital-- included was Arthur Zepp. --

The October 13, 1945 issue of Box Office Magazine, in an Article titled “Camp Show on Top Deck of a Carrier” reports that a group of Hollywood entertainers turned the flight deck of an aircraft carrier into a theatre when they played to warship crews at Los Angeles Harbor. The troupe included Dell Chain as emcee, dancer Virginia Carroll, guitarist Amy Lou Welch, soprano Lillian Gilbert, and pianist Arthur Zepp.

Let's see . . . that means that I took piano lessons for a short time from a piano teacher who almost two decades earlier belonged to the same organization as Lucille Ball and Dinah Shore. I wonder if-- when dancing, telling jokes and singing under the Washington Monument in 1945-- they were thinking that twenty years later a pianist in their organization would be giving piano lessons to an average kid in Spokane? Maybe. It's possible.

Anyway, Arthur Zepp was a legend in Spokane. He even showed me a picture of himself in Life Magazine. I guess we were taking a break from my piano playing. Imagine what he was thinking at that exact moment. This is the best picture I've found of Arthur Zepp.

The caption to this photo states-- "'The Serenaders' radio broadcast on KHQ radio (Spokane, Washington). Ensemble is conducted by Arthur Zepp." There is no date, but logic puts it some time between 1945 and 1965.

Oh, yeah-- Here are two photographs of some of the piano books he published and had me buy so I could learn those basic chords. Well worth the money-- I learned something about improvisation and soloing. That, and I came so close to performing with Hollywood's Lucille Ball and Dinah Shore.

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