Guy Lombardo

  • Bandleader born Gaetano Lombardo in 1902 in London Ontario Canada. Died in 1977 of a heart attack.
  • Lombardo’s band, The Royal Canadians, was formed in 1924. Guy formed the group with his brothers, Carmen, Victor and Lebert. They billed themselves as creators of “the sweetest music this side of heaven.”
  • Between 1927 and 1940, Lombardo’s orchestra had over 140 top 10 hits, with 21 of them reaching #1. Another 31 songs were officially noted as Top 10 on Billboard Magazine’s Singles Chart from 1940 to 1952.
  • They were prolific with releases of albums too. Between 1954 to 1973, they released 84 records.
  • Lombardo and his band are most famous for their radio and TV broadcasts, particularly on New Year’s Eve. Radio’s first New Year Eve broadcast was in 1929, featuring Lombardo’s orchestra playing at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. They played at the Roosevelt on NYE for 30 years, and then moved to the Waldorf Astoria, where they played for another 16 years. Eventually, in 1956, these shows became telecasts on CBS. Ten of millions of people celebrated their New Year’s Eve parties with Guy Lombardo and his Orchestra.
  • Even today – the first song played in Times Square on New Year’s Day is the famous version of Auld Lang Syne as performed by The Royal Canadians.
  • Lombardo was an avid hydroplane speedboat racer. From 1946 to 1949, he was the reigning U.S. national champion in the sport. He won many trophies over the years, and continued to race until 1959. In that year, he was attempting a run with a new aluminum boat designed to break the speed record. During testing, it was destroyed during a remote controlled run, traveling over 250 miles per hour. Lombardo decided not to race again after the incident.
  • You may not have Guy Lombardo on your list of must have music. I guarantee, if you are over 50 years old, your parents did, and if your under 50, your grandparents did. Here’s a YouTube clip of New Year’s Eve in 1957 – you can watch the ball drop on Times Square, and then listen The Royal Canadians playing Auld Lang Syne. 

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