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Del Courtney

Big-band leader

Del Courtney, the big-band leader whose career spanned more than 70 years, died Feb. 11 in Honolulu after being hospitalized for pneumonia. He was 95.

Courtney recorded dozens of albums, performed on radio, television and films, provided music for major artists like Bing Crosby, Phil Harris, Martha Raye, The Ink Spots, and Carmen Miranda, and performed at four presidential inaugural balls — Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.

Courtney returned to playing special events about seven years ago, forming the 13-member Del Courtney Orchestra.

A big part of his popularity came from his performances at tea dances, including 15 years at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki. In the 1930s, Courtney performed at the former Alexander Young Hotel in downtown Honolulu for the radio broadcast “Hawaii Calls.”

Courtney had been a DJ at San Francisco’s KSFO and hosted a TV music show in the city on KPIX featuring guests like Johnny Mathis, Doris Day, Ella Fitzgerald, and Sammy Davis Jr. In the 1960s he also formed the original Oakland Raiders band in Oakland and appeared with the Raiders at Super Bowl games.

He was married — and divorced — three times, to singers Connie Haines, Yvonne King and Nalani Courtney.

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