Pete Fountain, 86, a clarinetist who became a staple on various TV shows in the late 1950s and 1960s, has died of heart failure, according to “Benny Harrell, Mr. Fountain’s son-in-law and manager,” reports The New York Times.
The Times adds, “Mr. Fountain was a mainstay of the New Orleans music scene for more than six decades, a familiar sight at Mardi Gras and the annual Jazz and Heritage Festival. And the appeal of his high-spirited brand of Dixieland stretched far beyond New Orleans, especially after he began appearing on ‘The Lawrence Welk Show’ in 1957.
“His outgoing musical style made an odd fit with the sedate ‘Champagne music’ of Mr. Welk’s orchestra — Mr. Fountain often noted that Champagne and bourbon did not mix — but the combination was a hit with viewers, and his segments became a staple of the show. In later years he was also a frequent guest on [Johnny] Carson’s ‘Tonight Show.'”
Here’s Fountain from a 1979 appearance on Carson’s show that we found on YouTube: