JACK McVEA, FOUNDING MEMBER OF DISNEYLAND'S ROYAL STREET BACHELORS, RETIRES AFTER 25 YEARS
JACK McVEA, FOUNDING MEMBER OF DISNEYLAND'S
ROYAL STREET BACHELORS, RETIRES AFTER 25 YEARS
ANAHEIM, Calif., June 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Jack McVea, founding member of Disneyland's Royal Street Bachelors, is retiring today after cooking up hot Dixieland jazz for 25 years.
When New Orleans Square opened in 1966, McVea rounded out the trio which consisted of Herman Mitchell on banjo, Ernie McLean on guitar and banjo and McVea on clarinet.
The trio currently consists of retiring leader McVea, McLean on guitar and banjo and Herb Gordy on bass. Edwin Pleasants has been filling in on sessions and will replace McVea.
Though there have been several changes in personnel throughout the years, McVea has been a mainstay.
McVea recalls some of his quarter-century of memories -- including his first encounter with Walt Disney. "I talked with Walt for half an hour and I didn't know who he was." Afterward, during various New Orleans Square construction periods, Disney, dressed as a carpenter, would chitchat with McVea about the work in progress and occasionally ask his opinion. McVea, by then a much wiser man, took two things into consideration before responding: 1) His field of expertise was not carpentry, and 2) The person asking was Disney. "I took the most sensible option open to me -- I agreed with whatever Disney said."
McVea's most embarrassing moment came just after he was hired as a Bachelor. His supervisor at the time, Vic Guder, advised Disney that McVea did not know how to play the clarinet. Disney suggested he learn -- that night -- and re-audition.
"A friend of mine had spoken with Calvin Ponder who said they needed a clarinet player fast or he and his partner would lose their job. When you're not working regularly, like me at the time, you become resourceful. I made my living playing flute and sax and I did have a clarinet. That night, I learned three songs and the blues -- enough to audition to keep the position. Vic was a good supervisor and taught me how to finger the horn. Although I never felt like an accomplished clarinetist, I learned all the songs and the crowds never complained."
McVea has many fond memories of the crowds that would gather at impromptu concerts in the park given by the Bachelors and the Pearly Band, a six-piece combo. They would join together with Disney characters to the delight of performers and guests alike.
The only original Bachelor, McVea is going to miss the crowds. "Being a Bachelor means everything to me. It has been 25 years of my life in music." During his years before Disneyland, he formed a five-piece group which recorded with different companies and for three years, from 1940 to 1943, he toured with Lionel Hampton's first band, playing baritone sax, first alto and finally becoming "straw boss" -- directing the band in Hampton's absence. But the allegiance of the Royal Street Bachelor's leader for 25 years is definitely pledged to his final longtime Disneyland gig.
McVea, McLean and Gordy were recently immortalized in "Royal Street Bachelors," an original painting by artist John Horny. Horny, a Disney illustrator and Imagineer, was invited to paint his favorite attraction at Disneyland and selected the trio of musicians "because of their fine music, their integrity and because they represent the subtle side of Disneyland ..." The painting is displayed at the Disney Gallery, appropriately, in New Orleans Square.
The jazzy Dixieland sound of Disneyland's New Orleans Square will continue to waft through the square thanks to McVea, adding a subtle, unique aura which helps give the park its rich texture. With every note played, McVea will continue his part in the rich history of the Royal Street Bachelors.
/CONTACT: Disneyland Publicity, 714-999-4445/ CO: Disneyland ST: California IN: LEI SU: PER EH-JL -- LA006 -- 1362 06/18/92 08:46 EDT