Steve Rhodes' piece on Joe Pantoliano reminds me that Joe played Bob Keane in the film La Bamba, which I loved though Bob didn't. Here's a profile of Bob.
An archetypal Southern California figure, Bob Keane's fascinating career in
music extends over 60 years from the '30s to the present. From his days as a
child prodigy jazz clarinetist to his ownership of Del-Fi Records (and subsidiaries
Donna, Mustang, Bronco and Edsel) in the '50s and '60s (and its resurrection in
the '90s) Keane has played, produced or released great music from his own big
band jazz to Sam Cooke, Ritchie Valens, and the Bobby Fuller Four.
In addition, Keane's famous "open door" policy at Del-Fi helped fuel the SoCal
surf music boom in the early-60s, and helped inaugurate the careers of such
future notables as Frank Zappa, David Gates (Bread), Leon Russell, Arthur Lee (Love), Glen Campbell, the Versatiles (The 5th Dimension) and Barry White.
Bob Keane was born Robert Kuhn in Manhattan Beach, CA on January 5, 1922
to a family that built homes along the coast from Palos Verdes to El Segundo.
Keane began playing clarinet at age 7, and continued on the instrument when
the family moved to Mexico City for three years (his father was an engineer who
was contracted to help build the Pan-American Highway).
Back in L.A., Keane performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra at
age 14. At 16, Keane started his own dance band; within the year Keane's band
was hired as the opening act for a remote radio broadcast, and when the
headliner canceled at the last minute, Keane's band performed live over KFWB.
The next day an MCA talent agent called Keane and offered to promote him as
"The World’s Youngest Band Leader," an offer he accepted.
Seeking the best, Keane often sneaked down to the Central District to play with black musicians like Nat "King" Cole and members of Duke Ellington's band. Keane was offered a music scholarship to USC, but then World War ll interrupted many a plan and Keane enlisted in the Air Force as an aviation cadet.
After the war Keane reformed his band and became very popular up and down
the West Coast. Keane recorded for Gene Norman's GNP label, and even
fronted Artie Shaw's band when the clarinet giant took a year off.
By the '50s Keane was walking where the big shoes tread: hosting a TV variety show in L.A., conducting his 12-piece orchestra on NBC's Hank McCune Show, even dating a young Lana Turner. Keane took up the pseudonym "Keene" (changed to "Keane" around 1970) when the announcer on the McCune show mispronounced "Kuhn" as "Coon" - an epithet not to be hurled lightly in 1951. But by the mid-50s rock 'n' roll and R&B were replacing big band in the hearts of the young and Keane could smell a new wind blowing.