Year Born: 1921
Year Died: 1972
Vaughan, Dennis “Denny” (1921-1972)
Denny Vaughan – pianist, arranger, orchestra leader, singer, composer, radio and television star – is remembered world-wide with respect by popular music aficionados.
Born and educated in Toronto, his piano playing led to Denny’s forming dance bands in the 1930’s and then going into the Canadian Army Show during World War II, touring Canada, the U.K. and then into France, Belgium and Holland entertaining the troops. Denny was vocalist, pianist and arranger for the Canadian Band of the Allied Expeditionary Force under the noted Captain Robert Farnon.
Staying in London after the war led to work with British orchestras such as Geraldo, Cyril Stapleton, Carroll Gibbons and George Melachrino. During this period he met and married Helene de Grandprey.
Returning to North America in 1950, Denny secured a position with Coral Records as arranger and also worked on the Kate Smith TV show in that capacity, as well as for Muzak.
In 1950, Denny and Helena moved to Canada where Denny became host and conductor of a 15 minute program transcribed in Toronto for Players Cigarettes and broadcast five-nights-a-week coast-to coast. During this time two children were born to the Vaughans.
When the Queen Elizabeth Hotel opened in Montreal in 1958, Denny was engaged to provide the music for the swank Bonaventure Room, and with his orchestra accompanied dozens of internationally-famous entertainers who appeared there. In the mid -1960s, Denny was featured with his orchestra on CTV’s BA Musical Showcase series, and on TVA’s Le Grand Prix Musicale. Shortly thereafter, Denny and his family moved to Calfornia, and Denny became Musical Consultant for the Smothers Brothers Show, and worked with the late conductor, Nelson Riddle. Two years later, he took on a similar role for the Glen Campbell show.
Intermittently, he would return to Canada to make record albums for the Canadian Talent Library which brought Canadian content to Canadian radio in 1962. Denny recorded four albums for CTL, and arranged music for others; Denny was also a composer, and many of his songs were captured on CTL albums.
However, illness forced him to return to his home in Montreal where he died in 1972.
His brilliant talents as a musician, composer and conductor were captured on recordings now housed in the National Archives and in the libraries of some radio stations in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Written by J. Lyman Potts – February, 2003