Tributes to Tex
From Alan Glasscock
When I was around the age of 10, I began what eventually
became a life-long involvement in big band music. I recall the first
Glenn Miller record I ever heard, "In the Mood." It somewhat
annoyed me at first, but then began to grow on me. Soon I was collecting
anything and everything Glenn Miller. By the time I was a teenager,
I had a large collection of records and memorabilia, and wanted to play
music-in particular-Big Band music professionally. I had played piano
already for some years, and hoped one day to lead my own big band.
As I pursued that dream, I created many friendships with local Dallas,
TX musicians. One of my friends, a bandleader for some 40 years at that
time, was a close personal friend of one Tex Beneke. My friend Harvey
had grown up in a musical family, and his father was also a bandleader.
His father had a young kid named Gordon Beneke who played with his band.
When Harvey formed his own band, he continued his friendship with Gordon
(Tex), and when Gordon left town for the "big time," he became
known as "Tex," as per Glenn Miller's fond nickname for him.
After Tex had achieved fame with the Miller band, he continued touring
and when he would arrive in a given city, he would contact a band contractor
who would actually put together a band for him, composed mostly of local
musicians. By then (the 1960s) it was not economically feasible for
a band of 15 or more players to travel as an "intact" unit.
At times Tex would bring along a few key people, like a drummer, lead
saxophonist or vocalist, with the other chairs filled in by the local
union roster members. This was, and still is, a very common practice.
Here is where I come in: One day, Harvey asked if I would like to meet
Tex Beneke. Of course, at age 18, I was beside myself! Here was a once-in-a-lifetime
chance to meet one of the living legends of the big band era. I was
finally going to meet the same person who made over 200 records with
the Glenn Miller Orchestra I loved so very well. The same person who
made the tune "Chattanooga Choo Choo" world-famous. I quickly
accepted the invitation, and was told to call up Tex at a local hotel.
I found Tex to be one of the most gracious and pleasant people I have
ever known. I visited with him for around an hour and a half, during
which time I was able to ask him many questions about the Miller band.
Mostly musical theory questions, as I was also interested in arranging.
He told me many of the rehearsal techniques Glenn used and made many
comments about the individual tunes. He recalled that the band hated
"Chattanooga Choo Choo," calling it a silly, going nowhere
tune. The band never realized what a hit that tune would make, least
of all Tex himself! He said that he was, in retrospect, glad they recorded
it, as it had became somewhat of a signature tune for him.
I also asked Tex why he was never mentioned in the motion picture, The
Glenn Miller Story, and he explained that when the Miller Estate broke
ties with him in the late-40s, they apparently held a grudge and was,
for all purposes, blacklisted from any promotions (even to this day)
relating to Glenn Miller.
Tex also asked if I would like to see his saxophone. He pulled out a
very beautiful horn, telling me that this
Martin-brand sax is the very same one he played in Miller's band, adding
that it had had much repair work over the years. I couldn't believe
my eyes--the same horn that blended so well within the Miller saxophone
section, and the same one that played so many classic solos over the
A couple of years after our first meeting, Tex married a lady named
Sandra, who was a waitress in a coffee shop he frequented in the Los
Angeles area. Tex had been widowed for a number of years, and was very
lonely. Sandra later traveled with him across the USA, and helped manage
As I became older, I realized my dream of leading a big band, which
I have done for some 20 years now. And I also became a well-known arranger.
My abilities also spread to Tex's ears on the California coast, and
he hired me to recreate a few of the old Miller tunes for his own library.
He explained that after the WW2, the demand for the old Miller tunes
did not occur until The Glenn Miller Story was released in the early-50s.
By then, he had no original Miller tunes in his library, and had to
hire arrangers to transcribe them off the old records so he could handle
the audience's requests. The cheque he paid me with is framed and hanging
on my wall to this day.
I last saw Tex in the summer of 1998. He arrived in Dallas for a big
band festival. I had not seen Tex for over 10 years at that point, and
I was, quite honestly, shocked at his physical appearance. I had heard
that under his doctor's advice he had given up playing his sax, but
I had no idea how ill he must have been. When he appeared on stage,
he was given a very rousing standing ovation--the only standing ovation
given to any performer that evening! I felt so glad that some 50 years
later, Tex was still appreciated for his place in swing history. He
sang the obligatory "Chattanooga," plus "Ida," "Kalamazoo,"
and "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree." I didn't know it, but
that would be the last time I would ever see Tex. I had the presence
of mind to take a few photos that night, which I look upon as one of
my most cherished possessions.
Three days ago I heard the news that Tex had died. How fortunate I am
for having known one of the greats of the music world. And what honor
I feel in having him value my talents enough to hire me as an arranger--especially
when he has had his pick of the litter in Jerry Gray, Bill Finegan,
Norman Leydon and Henry Mancini!
I type this as I listen to the Chesterfield broadcast
version of "Solitude." What poetic irony this makes me feel.
***In about 1982, I played piano on a gig backing up Tex in Dallas.
After the gig, Tex and my friend, Harvey, were talking about Harvey's
new alto saxophone. Tex wanted to try it out, and asked that I back
him up on piano, playing an ad lib "blues." What an experience--perhaps
I was the only person to hear Tex play an alto saxophone since 1941,
when Tex subbed in the lead alto chair with Miller (upon Hal McIntyre's
***(During my last visit with Tex in the summer of 1998, at the Dallas
Big Band Festival,) I told Tex that if he needed any more musical arrangements,
I would be happy to write some more for him. He looked at me rather
sadly and said, "Alan, I'm not adding anything else to the book.
I won't be around much longer...: How sad to hear those words. How sad
to think that he would not be making music too much longer, and he already
had a premonition of things to come.
Keep swingin'! Alan Glasscock <Gbigbandswing@aol.com>
a Disc Jockey at the young age of 12 the two bands
I was attracted to were Duke Ellington and Glenn Miller. I will never
forget Tex Beneke's distinctive voice on all his recordings with the
Modernaires and the Orchestra. One song will always be in my
memory - 'WITHOUT MUSIC" BY THE TEX BENEKE ORCHESTRA and vocal
group - the lyrics say it all .. "..without music, what a dreary
there'd be, and a world without music is no place for me." Thank
you JOE ALLISON for
bringing me into the world of radio and music at KPAB in Laredo. I was
lucky enough to be named and selected one " of the TOP FIVE DEE
JAYS in the Country
by BILLBOARD MAGAZINE two years in a row in 1967 and 1968 at their National
I couldn't have done it without one of my KEY INGREDIENTS of the show
..TEX BENEKE and
the GLENN MILLER ORCHESTRA.
Thank GOD for all the wonderful people I have met thru the years.
BOB PEARSON living in retirement in Dallas, Texas.