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Biography

1913 John McClaninan Best Jr., born 20 Oct. in Shelby, North Carolina
1919 - 1920 Took piano lessons in elementary school
1926Started playing cornet
1927Bought first trumpet for $52
1928 - 1930 Formed a high school dance band
1930 - 1931 Attended Davidson college; played in a band called the Sunnyland Serenaders
1932 Played in the Duke Blue Devils band
1933 Played in a dance band in Saint Augustine, Florida
1933 - 1934 Played in Hank Biagini's band in Springfield, Mass.
1935 - 1936 Attended University of North Carolina and played in campus band
1937 - 1939 Played in Artie Shaw's band
1939 - 1942 Joined Glenn Miller's band
1942 - 1943 Played briefly in Bob Crosby's band and then teamed up with Artie Shaw and his Navy band
1944 - 1945 Stationed in England for one year; played with Navy Band 501 (Sam Donahue - leader)
1945 - 1946 Played in Benny Goodman's band
1946 Moved to Los Angeles, CA; studied harmony and arranging
1953 Played on radio for the Bob Crosby show; toured with Billy May's band
1955 Played in Bob Crosby's band for television
1960 Recorded with Ray Conniff for Columbia International
1964 Played in Bob Crosby's band at the Tokyo Olympics
1966 Met and married Mary Lou
1970 Formed small bands and played with local musicians in club dates
1973 Toured for 20 weeks with Billy May throughout the U.S.
1981 Played in Australia for a Glenn Miller revival event
1982 Broke his back while working in his avocado orchard
1987 Toured with Ray Conniff
1990 Toured Japan and Holland with Zeke Zarchy
1995 Played Glenn Miller tribute for PBS television Represented Glenn Miller alumni in New York city parade and at the Roseland Ballroom commemorating the 50th anniversary of WWII Armistice Day
1996 Toured Australia and Tasmania, during which time Mary Lou passed away
2003 19 September 2003 died at his home in La Jolla, CA

Some noteworthy people John recorded and collaborated with:
  • Al Jolson's and Mildred Bailey's last recording
  • Bing Crosby, Johnny Mercer, Hoagy Carmichael, Andrew Sisters
  • Frank Sinatra, Martin and Lewis, Billie Holiday
  • Louis Armstrong and Louis' teacher, King Oliver, Jack Teagarden, Tommy Dorsey, Lana Turner
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