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Nothin' but the blues

Nothin' but the blues
Have band—won't travel

Larry Fotine was born Lawrence Constantine Fotinakis in Camden, New Jersey on April 27, 1911, the son of a Greek immigrant and his American wife. About the age of 14, he started to study piano.  He then taught himself composition, arranging and orchestration.  About 1935, he organized a youth orchestra and played various engagements in the surrounding states.

Larry joined the Sammy Kaye Orchestra as an arranger from 1940 to 1945 and from 1945 to 1947 was arranger for the Blue Barron and Art Mooney Orchestras.  He organized his own orchestra in 1948.  This was heard by the well-known booking agent, Joe Glaser, who signed Larry and his orchestra to an exclusive booking agreement.  Larry Fotine and His Orchestra proceeded to play various engagements throughout the U. S. and Canada. Larry sometimes played the clarinet when leading his orchestra.

Some of the major engagements were at:  Steel Pier, Atlantic City, NJ; Arcadia Ballroom and Roseland Ballroom, New York, NY; Claridge Hotel and Peabody Hotel, Memphis, TN; Aragon Ballroom, Oh Henry Ballroom and Melody Mill Ballroom, Chicago, IL; Syracuse Hotel, Syracuse, NY; Muehlback Hotel, Kansas City, MO.

In 1955, Larry disbanded his orchestra and moved his family from Audubon, New Jersey to the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles, California.  He joined the Lawrence Welk orchestra in 1958 as an arranger and worked with Welk for two years.

Larry Fotine was a member of ASCAP and wrote and published over 300 songs.  Some of the more famous songs were:

    You Were Only Foolin' (L. Fotine, F. Meadows, B. Faber)

    I Ain't Got Nothin' But the Blues (Duke Ellington, L. Fotine, D. George)

    Blue Guitar (L. Fotine, F. Stanton)

    Spring in Montmartre (L. Fotine, G. Shelley)

He recorded with his own orchestra for Decca, King, Coral, Balboa and Sonic Arts labels.  He also recorded under the name of Constantine and His Orchestra and under the name of Beale Street Buskers.

In the late 1980's, he was still active writing music -- this time it was background music and songs for the seasonal animated cartoon series, Rusty and Buttons, which was distributed worldwide.

    The Christmas Tree Train

    Which Witch Is Which

    The Turkey Caper

    A Chucklewood Easter

Larry also wrote several books:

    Theory and Techniques of Twelve Tone Composition

    Musicians and Other Noisemakers

    Contemporary Musician's Handbook and Dictionary

    Pieces of Life (a collection of short stories)

Larry married Dorothy Owens in New Jersey in 1940.  They had 3 children, Nicholas, Donald and Barbara -- all "fotine" months apart, as he used to say.  In September 1990, one month after celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, Larry and Dorothy moved from Los Angeles to Minden, NV (northern Nevada).  Two months after moving there, Larry collapsed and died suddenly of a ruptured aortic aneurysm on November 25, 1990.

Times were often tough making a living as a songwriter and bandleader and at one time, when Larry and his family moved to California, he disbanded his orchestra  and sold his clarinet to bring in a few bucks.  When asked how he could sell his beloved clarinet he replied, "I never could play it very well anyway."

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