Bill Perkins, saxophonist best known as a soloist in Stan Kenton’s and Woody Herman’s big bands, died Saturday of cancer at his home in Sherman Oaks, Calif. He was 79.
San Francisco native spent his early years in Chile, where his dad was a mining engineer. He later earned a degree in electrical engineering, at Caltech before serving in the Navy toward the end of WWII. He then earned a music degree from UC Santa Barbara, played in Jerry Wald’s band moved on to Herman’s.
He also did studio work as a performer and recording engineer for the World Pacific label and United Recording. In addition, he played in “The Tonight Show” band on sax, flute, clarinet and more.
Additional gigs included working with the Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabackin Big Band, the Lighthouse All-Stars, recorded with pianist Frank Strazzeri and most recently played in Bill Holman’s band until June.
He is survived by wife Charlene, two daughters, two sons and six grandchildren.
A memorial will be held 7-11 p.m. Monday at Musicians Union Local 47, 817 N. Vine St., Los Angeles.
Donations can be made to the Cousteau Society or KKJZ jazz radio station at CSU Long Beach.