Friday, August 25, 2006

Maynard Ferguson Dead

For about 10 nanoseconds in the 70's Maynard Ferguson was big. Bigger than the BeeGees, bigger than Farrah Fawcett even. He had a huge hit with a disco version of the Rocky theme "Gonna Fly Now" featuring his screaming trumpet high-notes. And just as every teenage girl adopted "Farrah hair", every teenage trumpet player adopted the "Maynard Pose", seen above. The object was to make playing the trumpet appear like one of the labors of Hercules.

For a while he made the trumpet seem as cool as the guitar and those of us who played something else in the junior high band could only dream that a messiah would come along for our instrument too.

I saw Ferguson live at a high school band festival our band went to. I recall being impressed by his flute player who could play two notes at once. But although he was really a jazz player, his one hit had left him with a base of fans who only wanted to hear him screech out high notes on "Gonna Fly Now".

I also recall seeing him on Tom Snyder's old Tomorrow program in the early 80's. The band he had with him looked like it might be in violation of child labor laws. As the camera panned across them during a number, they had that terrified "what's the count?" look musicians get when they can't remember if they've counted 32 measures of rest or 42 or 52 or 22 or...

UPDATE: link to some video of Maynard Ferguson performing
Them be high notes.

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