Before Ryan Seacrest and Dick Clark, Guy Lombardo entertained us on New Year’s Eve.
Happy 2016 Edible readers! Looking back at New Year’s past, it’s nice to remember Canadian-born musician Guy Lombardo’s Big Band sound which rang in the New Year. What many people may not know is that this famous and talented musician had several ties to Long Island.
Born in 1902 in Ontario, Canada, Lombardo learned to play the violin. His father, Gaetano, wanted his five children to be educated in music. Those violin lessons eventually lead Guy to become one of the most famous band leaders to hit the American music scene.
Lombardo’s musical career was a long and arduous journey. He and his brothers started a 10-piece band they called the Royal Canadians. Trying to become known, they headed off to the United States where they actually bought air time. The live broadcasts led to much success. Before long, Lombardo and the Royal Canadians were offered a gig at the Palace Theater in Chicago, where the band earned $4,000 a week.
By 1927,Lombardo and his band headed to New York City and made their first of many appearances at the Roosevelt Hotel, which was later the home of the CBS radio network. The broadcasts eventually moved to the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, where the band’s New Year’s Eve party became a popular tradition.
Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians were best known for their rendition of “Auld Lang Syne” which has remained the most popular musical piece played at the end of each year and the start of the new.
In 1938 Lombardo became a citizen of the United States, and settled down on Long Island, in Atlantic Beach. Lombardo loved boating and living near the water, and became quite involved in hydroplane speed boat racing; he won many championships. During his later years, Lombardo moved to Freeport where he enjoyed his cabin cruisers Tempo, Tempo VI and Tempo VII. He also invested in a local clam shack called Liota’s East Point House. The name was eventually changed to Guy Lombardo’s East Point House. (Check out some memories of the restaurant.) Along with the restaurant and boating, Lombardo also became the musical director of the Jones Beach Marine Theater. It is said that Robert Moses was a big fan of Lombardo’s and built the venue with him in mind.
Today, the Guy Lombardo Marina in Freeport remains as a wonderful reminder of the man whose music continues to live on in our hearts today.