Irving Fazola
b. Irving H. Prestopnik, 10 December 1910, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, d. 29 March 1949. In his teens and early '20s Fazola played clarinet with several noted New Orleans-based bandleaders, including Louis Prima and Joseph ‘Sharkey’ Bonano. Although he played frequently with dixieland-style bands, Fazola's classical training made him eligible for many of the more chart-bound big bands of the swing era. In the '30s his pugilistic nature took him on a headlong dash through numerous jobs, including work with Ben Pollack, Glenn Miller, Jimmy McPartland, Claude Thornhill, Muggsy Spanier and the band with which he attracted most attention, Bob Crosby's. His fiery, ill-tempered nature led him into several violent fights and he was also a heavy drinker and a womanizer. Despite his erratic private life, Fazola was a distinguished and polished performer and with a different nature might well have made the big time as a featured artist. But then, had his nature been different he might well have been a lesser musician. His wild lifestyle finally took its toll and he died in 1949 still some way short of his 40th birthday.

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