Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Legacy of Mr Graham Young, Music Director at John Muir Jr High (1921-1998)

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Several of us were so blessed to have Mr Young for music back when he taught at Muir in the 1960's. On Facebook, several have posted many endearing words of kindness regarding him and I will post a few here along with photos from the Highlander, Muir's yearbook, for the years 1962- 1964. 

If you have anything to share, you can post it below or email and I will add - thanks! 

And thank you, Mr Young, for all that you did for so many!

Cathy Palmer
BHS '67

This comment from Don Ray, BHS '67, got the ball rolling - thanks Don!

About 20 years ago, I decided to track down the music teacher/director from when I was at John Muir, Mr. Graham Young. He was retired. He had left Muir, he told me, to pursue his dream as a studio musician. You'll recall he played the trumpet in the Dixieland band at Disneyland. "Did I every hear anything you did for TV or the movies?" I asked.
He replied, "Did you ever watch The Waltons? That's me playing the trumpet at the start of each show." I few years later I learned that he had died. I'm so glad I got to speak with him and thank him.

Cathy Emmett Palmer
Wow!! I always liked Mr Young. Thanks Don

Jolene Firgens
He was a great teacher.......Glad he realized his dream. Saw him play at Disneyland many times. RIP Mr Young.....Does anyone remember in choir when we sang "Moon River" before it was ever released? Thanks to his friend Henry Mancinci.

Don Ray
You're welcome, Cathy. It's funny. When I found the first public record with Mr. Graham's address, his voter registration, he had been living in the same condo building as my mother was living --- on Rose St. behind Bob's Toluca Lake. When I asked my mother, she said, "Oh yes. He was right across my wall. I would wave to him from my kitchen window when he was out on his balcony. I didn't know he was your teacher." At the time I spoke with him, he was retired and playing once a week on the Queen Mary. What a great guy. What an inspiration.
He he died several years ago. I'm glad there were others who appreciated him. I learned of his death when I was searching the word "Burbank" on eBay and someone was selling the Burbank trumpet owned by "the late Graham Young."
There are so many unsung heroes who touched us and inspired us. The letter I wrote to him was probably goofy, but if I find it, I may share it. It was my way of expressing to him the many ways that he inspired or awakened me.

Julie Guttridge
I LOVED Mr. Young.. Had him for Girls & Mixed Choir.. I did not appreciate his talent til later years looking back of the beautiful music he put together for us to sing.. All the movie music, Sound if Music, etc.. Taught me to THINK about the next key we were to hit.. Loved it when he played the trumpet .. Sorry to hear he passed.. He was a great music teacher.. We at that age, don't appreciate the people we were blessed with...

Carol Nicholls Lebrecht
I enjoyed Mr Young's Music class too. I remember learning a lot of folk music And learning to play the tonette. I remember him being a very nice man.I am so glad you posted this Don. I listened to The Walton's Theme Song with new appreciation.

Cathy Emmett Palmer
According to this website, looks like Mr Young also played for the 1975 Robert Redford movie, “The Great Waldo Pepper”

Kathie Weitzman
I loved Mr. Young! Always so nice and supportive, even though I was awful in music

John Rocke
He was a great musician, person, and teacher. He used to take the "dance band" at John Muir to Disneyland to perform. A true, one-of-a-kind, who gave to teaching when he could have professionally excelled in other endeavors. I was fortunate to have been a student of his, despite like the comment above, being an average musician. If there was a teaching hall of fame, he would be in it...

Ron Hatt/Taos Rag
Mr. Young - my mixed chorus teacher - what a fantastic teacher he was. Do you all know that Mr. Young was the first trumpet player for the Gene Krupa Band. A few years ago, on YouTube, I saw a video of Mr. Young on the trumpet in a quartet with Gene Krupa. At that time Gene Krupa was at the top of the charts. THEN - I saw the Gene Krupa movie starring Sal Mineo. I was SHOCKED - in the movie Gene Krupa was so addicted to marijuana he had to be held back when he saw a reefer on the floor. Back then I thought "weed" was evil. When I asked Mr. Young about this in the movie - he told me that Gene Krupa had been arrested for the contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He denied Krupa smoked reefer. And the jazz band he had at Muir was fabulous and could he ever play the trumpet - unbelievable. God bless you Mr. Young.
Ron Hagg 1966

Linda Duffendack Oxley
Graham Young was my musical inspiration to move forward in my life in choral music. He had a long and extensive list of credits in the professional film, television, movie and band world. Yet his passion was teaching young persons to live and love music! In addition to all those named above he also was Henry Mancini's first call whenever Mancini toured or recorded. You can hear him on many Mancini's famous tunes. In 1989 I hired him and he put together a small dance band for my parents 50th wedding anniversary party. It was great fun because the big band era was his and my parents favorite styles of music. Also in the 80's he played Easter services for me a couple of years when I was directing at Westwood Methodist Church. It was a classical gig and he certainly could to do that equally as well as swing band! We had a lot of fun with the student now director and teacher relationship on those mornings. He was a great musician and a wonderful person. Terrific memories! Thank you!

Mark Littleton Sr
The Lord knows him. A class act for sure. Caring and always going out of his way for us. God bless him. Another of the Greatest Generation. Who will stand in their stead.

Donna Luce Neitman
He was my favorite and one of the nicest teachers at John Muir. I was in choir. John Rocke, I agree with you about the hall of fame thing. He had a way to bring out the best in his students.

Deb Cawthorne
OMGosh, I remember Mr. Young. It was so nice reading what he did in his life.




UPDATE! Watch Mr Young play the "Peter Gunn Theme" with the Henry Mancini Orchestra
Just received this email from Doug Freeman, BHS '66
Graham young is the trumpet, second from left.
"This is great and worth viewing even though the begining 5 seconds are missing. Full orchestra with solo's by Pete Candoli, Graham Young, Al Aarons,Oscar Brashear, Bill Watrous, and Don Menza, etc."

May 4, 2014 UPDATE! More Facebook comments
Christine Smith Carroll
The best music teacher ever.

Peggy Melton Cyphers
I went to Luther but I remember an assembly where Muir came and played. I remember a band - jazz???- they started playing before the curtain opened and it sounded fantastic. I am thinking this was Mr. Young playing? I also remember because a good family friend was in the band, Russ Parks. Russ was at my brother's memorial - it was so awesome to see him

Gary Holloway
I believe Mr. Young also played with the dixieland band at Disneyland on the weekends.

Eddie C. Morton
A good man and a good teacher.

Dee Dee Daugharty Culotta
I was the soloist singer in Mr. Young's Dance Band, plus I had him for girl's choir and mixed choir too. He was a super person. Sorry to hear of his passing.

Cathy Coyle
I loved Mr. Young!!! He was my first introduction to singing in a choir. I had him for Girls Choir & Mixed Choir. I remember singing "Walking in a Winter Wonderland" at the Masonic Temple during the Christmas season. He also taught us songs on the tonette and "Kingston Town"; using bongo drums. Love that we had such a talented Music teacher!

Larry Cummings
Mr Young was a great teacher. I had him at Muir Junior High. Seeing him play in the Dixy Band at Disneyland was always a big exciting moment and he always seemed to remember me. BHS class of '70

Patti Dobrowolski
We were blessed to have Mr Young. He was definitely one of my favorite teachers. My Dad player the trumpet and when we were at Disneyland I talked with Mr. Young during the break and he and Dad went back stage and played a song together.  I was crying like a baby - such a wonderful memory. I remember him being able to breathe in at the same time he blew on the trumpet and could hold the longest note. Such an amazing man.

Val Tonione
I think that his proudest moment that I can remember was when he had The Young Men From New Orleans come and play at Muir. This was the original group with Johhny St. Cyr. They used to play at Disneyland as well. This might have been their last performance as a group as Johnny died in 1966.

Linda Peterson Everett
I have fond memories of being in Mr Young's music class with Deanna and Andrea. I know Deanna will remember the three if us practicing "Surrey With The Fringe on Top" from "Oklahoma" with me on the piano in my living room at 600 Walnut Ave. for an assignment from Mr. Young. Yikes!!!! I can hardly carry a tune and I haven't touched the keys of a piano since then! How did THAT even happen??

Received this email today...
Ms. Palmer

We have never met but there coincidence in the appreciation of good music and musicians. I am referring to Mr. Young, trumpet/cornet player.

I had the great privilege to be in a high school band in Mt. Morris, Michigan during the school year of 1952-53. It was during this school year that the small band of 32 preformed a Christmas composition that Mr. Young transpose, to fit the small band, that he had memorized from the master composition while he was enrolled at the University of Michigan. The name of the composition was Glory from 12th Highest.

During the time I was under Mr. Young’s instruction he owned a trumpet and cornet that had an interchangeable mouthpiece rim. This way he did not have to get accustom to different mouthpieces when he changed horns.

I want to thank you for posting the Burbank High Blog on the internet. I would be very appreciative of any other information you might have for posting. Mr. Young taught at Mt. Morris the years of 1950 to 1953. He was followed by Dr. William Moffett.

Gerald G.Hunt

2nd email from Gerald included the following...

When I was sitting under him in Mt. Morris he told us that he had been in the Air Force. When his service time was coming an end, Dr. Reveille the music director at the U of M asked him to come to the U of M. He was pushed into duo service at Christmas time 1952 when he as asked to be choir and band director at the same time. His talents came forth then doing both jobs.

Mr. young brought a struggling band of 28 to a proud band of 42 before he left. I will contact other members of my class who were in band and see if they have any other information and then I will forward them on.

Here's Mr Graham doing a solo around the 2 min mark in this 1990 vid!

Same band doing 'Sing, Sing, Sing', one of my favs!

Clarinet : Peanuts Hucko
Alto Sax : Jack Stuckey, Herbert Stewadd
Tenor Sax : Robert Efford, Loren Schoenberg
Trumpet : Graham Young, Clinton McMahan, Zeke Zarchy, Donald Smith
Trombone : Bill Tole, Gary Tole, Robert Havens
Piano : Mark Shangold
Guitar : Barry Zweig
Bass : Paul Gormley
Drums : Alvin Stoller

JUNE 30, 2015 UPDATE

Found Mr Young at Find A Grave and added a few photos

Received the following email and photo today... thanks so much, Gary Wilson!


Larry O'Brien
My favorite teacher at Muir. Many great memories of him and watching him play at Disneyland.

Krista Barcus Kelly
He was a great teacher and musician. Loved being in chorus!

Ozzie Gerro
I loved the Music class with Him!

Lynda Barton Hewitt
He was my teacher for Chorus for two years and he was terrific!

Ron Hagg (Taos Rag)
I was in mixed chorus - we sang cool songs. Many years later I saw a video of him playing the horn along side Gene Krupa. Mr. Young was a big time musician - playing with the best bands of the time. Loved his "jazz" band. Bob Pease could really play the drums. Really wish I could find that video of Mr. Young and Gene Krupa. It was a quartet.

Dee Dee Daugharty Culotta
I was the soloist in his Dance Band at John Muir. He was one of my favorite teachers.

David Colvin
I'd loved being in his class until Boys Dean pulled me out, liked finding him playing at Disneyland

Mike Signorelli
Mixed chorus 7, 8, 9th grade.Mr. Young was great guy. It was a big deal to say to him at Disneyland he played in the Ragtime band...

Susan Earle
I had great respect for Mr. Young. I was a shy student but he believed in me. To this day I regret turning down a solo part in the song "White Christmas". I always felt like I let him down. He was a fantastic musician & we loved it when he played. Good times for sure. I was in his class 7, 8, & 9th grade as well for the years 65, 66, & 67.

Don Gockel
I remember Mr. Young for 7,8,9th grades also. 1964-5-6

Ken Templeton
I had Mr. Young for choir. I also enjoyed going to Disneyland and seeing him play in the Dixieland band at the carnation Plaza

Richard Aspey
I had Mr. Graham for mixed chorus and enjoyed the class. I also saw him a few times at Disneyland. Great memories!

Linda Silvas
I remember him

Jennifer Todd
I had him I remember seeing him at Disneyland

Teri Clark
I can't sing a note but I did like Mr. Young. That being said, what I remember most from that classroom were the nuclear attack drills.

Jan DeJaegher
Mr. Young would play his trumpet for all of his classes and demonstrate circular breathing. I was in awe of that talent and still cannot do it to this day!

Just found this clip of Mr Young playing his trumpet on the Andy Griffith Show back in 1960!


  1. Just received this wonderful email...

    I found your tribute to Graham Young when I was trying to find the trumpet player my mother told me about from her high school. My mother will be 95 years old in November and she went to Lakeview High School in
    Chicago, Illinois, with Graham Young. My mother lives in the same town with me, Batavia, Illinois (west of Chicago) and we go to the Elign (IL) Symphony concerts. We were reading the program before a concert featuring a trumpet soloist and she started talking about the extremely talented trumpet player in her High School band.

    My mother played the piccolo. She often talks about the band and I've seen photos of their uniforms, which were old, scratchy ROTC uniforms. Their band room was up in a tower of the big high school. This high school is still there and operating, and we've driven by it many times as my daughter now lives in Chicago and near it. It is a completely land-locked school and even in the 1930s, there were no sports fields. The marching band had to practice in a nearby street which was blocked off for them. (How fun, or a pain, for the neighbors!) They used another high school's fields for their events.

    One of the highlights of the band's experience was marching in a parade for President Franklin Roosevelt. The Oct 5, 1937 event became famous because it was the opening of the outer drive bridge (Lake Shore Drive) where they paraded, and Roosevelt made an important speech about war that day.

    My mother has gone on a few times about how talented Graham Young was. Music was very important to my mother and they had a wonderful group. Thanks to the internet, I was able to find him, and learn that he went on to such an interesting career in music, with one of the first big stops to inspire students through music education.

    My family was living in Kansas City at the time you were at Burbank, and my three siblings and I were deeply involved in music; from lessons to orchestras and bands. My older brother has continued to have two careers, one being a brass player. So I now know of two musicians at Lakeview High School in Chicago in the 1930s who went on to inspire others. I found that Graham Young has passed away. My mother, at nearly 95, has to be one of the last of her classmates still living. She continues to get the Lakeview HS alumni newsletter.

    Thanks for posting your blog and helping me find out about Graham Young!

    Becky Moorehead Hoag
    Batavia, IL

  2. I remember Mr. Young well. I was not musically inclined, but was his "assistant' one year. Great guy, I also remember seeing him at Disneyland one time.

    Stan Dorrance

  3. Mr. Wilson was a wonderful teacher. I was shy but he believed in me. He asked me to do a solo on "White Christmas" when I was a student at John Muir Jr. High & I regret to this day for not accepting. We all loved it when he played the trumpet.

    Susan D. Earle
    Burbank, CA

  4. Mr. Graham started a dance band when I award at Muir. At the time, I played sax and he started up the band with a few of us that we're interested in an extra curricular group. He was amazing and to a friend of his in his Dixieland band to come and play with us. I always loved it when he played the trumpet for us. This man touched lives in a very positive way. His family can be proud!

  5. Mr. Young was the choir director at John Muir when I attended from 1963-1966. I played trumpet in the band and orchestra under Carroll Manning. It was he who told me I should go next door to the choir room and talk to Graham Young about playing in the John Muir Jazz Band. From our first meeting, Mr. Young was a vibrant, inspiring and patient teacher. I was astounded by this sound the first time I heard him play in our rehearsal. We played a piece he'd written for the band called "The John Muir Blues" and it gave each section player a chance to solo and then closed with him taking the final round. It always brought the house down.

    Soon after joining the band I learned that Mr. Young was also a professional trumpet player who performed regularly at the Carnation Plaza at Disneyland with the Bill Elliot "Date Nighters" orchestra. My parents started taking me out there several times each summer to hear the band.

    The years passed, I went on to graduate from BHS 1969 and earned a music performance degree from CSUN in 1974. It wasn't long before I was starting to work professionally in the area and to my great delight, it was not long before our professional paths crossed. From our first re-encounter, Graham treated me as a colleague. I was thrilled and honored by this. Graham was not only a magnificent teacher, but a highly respected musician who was my inspiration to become a professional trumpet player. Thank you, Graham. Rest in Peace