Guy LombardoBig Band, Jazz | 2008
Gaetano Albert Lombardo was born in London, Ontario, in 1902. He formed the Royal Canadians with his brothers Carmen, Lebert, and Victor, as well as other musicians from his hometown, and in 1924 took a two-year residency at a Cleveland nightclub, the Claremont Tent. This was followed by a 33-year residency at Manhattan’s Roosevelt Grill in 1929. The CBS broadcast of the Royal Canadians’ annual New Year’s Eve performance there became a traditional part of festivities throughout North America and was the longest running annual special program in radio history; on television they performed for more than 1.5 billion viewers since the first telecast of their New Year’s Eve Party in 1954. With the participation of his brothers, Lombardo began producing musical extravaganzas at the Jones Beach Marine Theater in 1951. The orchestra toured extensively in the U.S. and Canada in the 1960s. They played at the inaugural balls of every U.S. president from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Dwight Eisenhower, and again for Ronald Reagan in 1985. They also played at several World Series games at Yankee Stadium. In his later years, Lombardo invested in a nearby seafood restaurant originally called Liota’s East Point House. It was soon renamed Guy Lombardo’s East Point House and helped to create Freeport’s recreational boating community. The portion of Grove Street in Freeport south of Sunrise Highway is known as Guy Lombardo Avenue, part of the Nautical Mile. Lombardo died in November 1977.