Friday, June 12, 2009

Jazz era icon and Sealy, Texas, native Huey Long, 105, passed away Wednesday, June 10 of natural causes.
He is perhaps best known as a member of the Jazz band "The Ink Spots", playing the guitar and performing the group’s hit songs at venues nationwide, including the Apollo Theater.

But to his daughter, Anita Long, he was simply known as the best father a daughter could ask for.
“He was always a giving person,” she said. “He loved people and he really did have a way of engaging with each individual that he would come in contact with. That was something that was amazing.”And Long treated everyone with respect and like a human being, regardless of where they came from, who they were, or whether they were rich or poor.“He was really an accepting person,” Anita Long said. “Somehow, he would always make that individual feel special.”Reaching out over his 80-year career through music, Huey Long made sure to use his talents to uplift U.S. service men and women, performing for soldiers during the Korean War. In 1965, he decided to further spread his joy of music by opening his own teaching studio in New York.

“It brought a lot of enjoyment to (my) life,” Long was quoted as saying in a Sealy News article from Feb. 8, 2008. “Music has so much to do with the true souls of people and their true essence. It’s kind of like molding their character. I think it was necessary for me to teach music because it was something that I knew.”

Although Long’s successful career took him to new places and exciting heights, his musical roots began down-home in Sealy, where he grew up.He learned to play the piano and guitar by ear thanks to the help of his sister, Willie, and two brothers, Robert and Sam, all of whom were musically inclined.

Long was also influenced by the ragtime piano players and blues guitar players prevalent in and around Sealy at the time.Eventually, though, the walls of the small farm community could no longer contain his desire to learn about every facet of music and, joined by his brother Sam, Long moved to Houston. And it was there that Long began to make history.At first, he set up shop as a shoe shiner on the sidewalk in front of the Rice Hotel, using some of the money he earned to purchase a guitar.

Trucks loaded with musicians and a person on a megaphone would drive around town announcing public dances and promoting their music.One such band, the Frank Davis Louisiana Jazz Band, gave Long his big break in 1925.

From there, he performed with a string of other Jazz bands before joining the legendary Ink Spots in 1944.

Long’s music career and time with the Ink Spots is memorialized in his autobiography, “The Huey Long Story,” as well as in the Ink Spots Museum, located at 117 E. 20th St. in Houston.

Anita Long helped her father open the museum - which was his lifelong dream - after she moved to Houston from San Jose, Calif. to help take care of him in his old age.
Reference - Sealy News

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