CAGenWeb Monterey County Genealogy Forum Index CAGenWeb Monterey County Genealogy
Part of The CAGenWeb Monterey County Project
See Forum Index for instructions on How To Register.
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

Jimmy Lyons, Founder Of Monterey Jazz Festival, Apr 10, 1994

Post new topic   Reply to topic    CAGenWeb Monterey County Genealogy Forum Index -> Obituaries - General
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Site Admin

Joined: 27 Nov 2007
Posts: 381
Location: Monterey County, California

PostPosted: Wed Apr 21, 2010 3:52 am    Post subject: Jimmy Lyons, Founder Of Monterey Jazz Festival, Apr 10, 1994 Reply with quote

Jimmy Lyons -- Founder Of Monterey Jazz Festival
San Francisco Chronicle (CA) - April 11, 1994

Jimmy Lyons, who began as a radio disc jockey broadcasting swing records and went on to found the Monterey Jazz Festival, died yesterday at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo.

He was 77 and had been hospitalized after a heart attack.

Mr. Lyons was born in Beijing to a Presbyterian missionary couple. He studied at the University of California at Berkeley but left to work as a disc jockey for radio station KVOE in Santa Ana, where he was credited with discovering bandleader Stan Kenton. He and Kenton raised money for radio time by soliciting contributions from local businesses.

Kenton's orchestra became very successful, and Mr. Lyons accompanied him when Kenton went to New York in 1943.

Mr. Lyons joined New York radio station WMCA, moving on to a writing post for the NBC network before he was drafted and eventually sent to serve in the Armed Forces Radio in Hollywood.


His ''Jubilee'' jazz program was extraordinarily successful among soldiers and sailors. He introduced Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and other pioneers of experimental jazz to thousands of servicemen who never forgot the experience. The program resulted in the first ''Jazz at the Philharmonic'' recordings.

After World War II, Mr. Lyons worked as a road manager for Woody Herman's band before moving to San Diego and working as a radio salesman of used cars.

In 1948, Mr. Lyons came to San Francisco. After a brief attempt as a missionary for the bebop style at radio station KSAN, he joined the staff of KNBC as a midnight disc jockey, with an audience reaching from Medicine Hat in Alberta, Canada, to Mexico.

His understated, drowsy timbre created a genre in radio. He became known as a the pre-eminent bebop enthusiast on the West Coast and presented such performers as Kenton, Herman, Paul Desmond, Charlie Barnett and Dave Brubeck, whose career took off with help from Mr. Lyons' championing.

In the 1950s, Mr. Lyons boosted new jazz musicians such as George Shearing, Miles Davis, Cal Tjader -- who had been an unknown vibraphonist at San Francisco State College -- Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan and Stan Getz.

Mr. Lyons fell in love with the California coast, moving first to Big Sur and then Carmel Valley. He briefly ran a grocery business in Big Sur.


He founded the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1957, after conversations with Chronicle jazz critic Ralph J. Gleason. To begin the festival, Mr. Lyons collected 67 donations of $100 each from local businesses, much as he had in the '30s when promoting Kenton. He opened the Pied Piper jazz club in Monterey in 1960.

He also moved from KNBC to KFRC, where he continued his midnight format while commuting to San Francisco.

Mr. Lyons was named to the California Arts Commission by Governor Edmund G. Brown in 1964. He was elected chairman of the body in 1967, serving until 1969 when he resigned as executive secretary.

He returned to jazz radio in 1975, at KEST.

He is survived by his wife, Laurel of Morro Bay; two sons, Matthew and Mark of Carmel Valley, and a daughter, Liz of Carmel Valley. At Mr. Lyons' request, there will be no funeral.

Edition: FINAL
Page: A15
Copyright (c) 1994 The Chronicle Publishing Co.
Claire Martin
CAGenWeb Monterey County Coordinator
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    CAGenWeb Monterey County Genealogy Forum Index -> Obituaries - General All times are GMT
Page 1 of 1

Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group