Dick Stabile

Dick Stabile

Stabile in New York in the 1940s
Background information
Born (1909-05-29)May 29, 1909
Newark, New Jersey, USA
Died September 18, 1980(1980-09-18) (aged 71)
New Orleans, USA
Genres Jazz
Instruments Saxophone

Dick Stabile (May 29, 1909 – September 18, 1980) was an American jazz saxophonist and bandleader.

Early years

Born May 29, 1910, in Newark, New Jersey, Stabile was the son of a violinist. While growing up, he learned to play piano and violin.[1]


Stabile got his start playing in theater ensembles on Broadway in the 1950s.

At age 15, Stabile began playing with Vincent Lopez and his orchestra. Lopez required him to learn to play saxophone, and Lopez discovered that he preferred that to playing piano and violin. He subsequently played with Jules Ansel's and George Olsen's orchestras before he joined Ben Bernie's orchestra[1] in 1928, where he remained for several years.

In 1935 he started his own ensemble, the All-America "Swing" Band, which featured Bunny Berigan, Dave Barbour, Frank Signorelli and Stan King.[2] He recorded with vocalists such as Berigan, Paula Kelly, Burt Shaw, and Gracie Barrie, the last of which he would go on to marry. During this time Stabile recorded for the labels Decca, Bluebird, ARC, and Vocalion/Okeh. His band worked often in hotels in New York City and was chosen to play at the New York World's Fair in 1959–60.

During World War II Stabile led a band while serving in the Coast Guard; Gracie Barrie led his ensemble in his absence. After the war he moved to Los Angeles, where he began working with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis from 1949 up to his death. He was the leader of the orchestra on many of Martin's popular recordings. Additionally, he worked with Jimmy Dorsey and Vincent Lopez. Contrary to the assertions of some,[3] Stabile did not play the alto solos in "So Rare," which was recorded by Jimmy Dorsey on November 11, 1956. Rather, Stabile was utilized for his alto in a session that occurred several days after Dorsey's death, and under the leadership of trumpeter Lee Castle.(citation needed)

For a while, Stabile was the musical director for Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.[4]

After spending the latter 1960s leading dance bands at Los Angeles ballrooms, Stabile took a job at the Hotel Roosevelt in New Orleans, where he worked from the middle of the 1970s until his death as a result of a heart attack in 1980.


Evelyn Oaks sang with Stabile's orchestra in 1939,[1] and Paula Kelly sang with him prior to joining the Glenn Miller Orchestra in 1941.[5]


Stabile designed a line of saxophones and clarinets that carried his name.[6]

Personal life

Stabile was married to—and divorced from—Gracie Barrie.[7]


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  1. 1 2 3 "Dick Stabile To Play For Exchange Club". The Evening Standard. April 28, 1939. p. 18. Retrieved October 12, 2015 via Newspapers.com.
  2. "(Lakewood ad)". The Plain Speaker. April 15, 1936. p. 18. Retrieved October 13, 2015 via Newspapers.com.
  3. Jordan, Steve, and Tom Scanlan. Rhythm Man: Fifty Years in Jazz. University of Michigan Press, 1991, p. 89.
  4. Simon, George T. (1974). The Big Bands. Collier Books. P. 479.
  5. "Swing era lives again". The Courier-Gazette. April 27, 1978. p. 11. Retrieved October 13, 2015 via Newspapers.com.
  6. "(Penn State Music and Sports Supply House ad)". The Daily Courier. April 25, 1940. p. 5. Retrieved October 13, 2015 via Newspapers.com.
  7. Winchell, Walter (October 24, 1945). "Walter Winchell Coast-To-Coast". Naugatuck Daily News. p. 4.
  8. "On the Records" (PDF). wpbb. April 18, 1942. p. 68. Retrieved 14 October 2015.


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