Larry Elgart

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Larry Elgart
Birth name Lawrence Joseph Elgart
Born (1922-03-20)March 20, 1922
New London, Connecticut, U.S.
Died August 29, 2017(2017-08-29) (aged 95)
Longboat Key, Florida, U.S.
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Musician, bandleader
Instruments Alto saxophone
Associated acts Les Elgart

Lawrence Joseph Elgart (March 20, 1922 – August 29, 2017) was an American jazz bandleader. With his brother Les, he recorded "Bandstand Boogie", the theme to the long-running dance show American Bandstand.


Elgart was born in 1922 in New London, Connecticut, four years younger than his brother, Les, and grew up in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey.[1] Their mother was a concert pianist; their father played piano as well, though not professionally. Larry and Les both attended Pompton Lakes High School.[2] Both brothers began playing in jazz ensembles in their teens, and while young Larry played with jazz musicians such as Charlie Spivak, Woody Herman, Red Norvo, Freddie Slack and Tommy Dorsey.

In the mid-1940s, Les and Larry started up their own ensemble, hiring Nelson Riddle, Bill Finegan and Ralph Flanagan to arrange tunes for them. Their ensemble was not successful, and after a few years, they scuttled the band and sold the arrangements they had commissioned to Tommy Dorsey.[3] Both returned to sideman positions in various orchestras.

In 1953, Larry met Charles Albertine and recorded two of his experimental compositions, "Impressions of Outer Space" and "Music for Barefoot Ballerinas". Released on 10" vinyl, these recordings became collector's items for fans of avant-garde jazz, but they were not commercially successful at the time. Larry and Albertine put together a more traditional ensemble and began recording them using precise microphone placements, producing what came to be known as the "Elgart Sound". This proved to be very commercially successful, and Larry and Les enjoyed a run of successful albums and singles in the 1950s.

In 1954, the Elgarts left their permanent mark on music history in recording Albertine's "Bandstand Boogie," for the legendary television show originally hosted by Bob Horn, and two years later, Dick Clark. Clark took the show national, to ABC-TV, in 1956 and remained host for another 32 years. Variations of the original surfaced as the show's theme in later years. Les and Larry reunited in 1963, but it would not last long. The brothers' last recording was released in 1967. Les moved to Texas and performed for the rest of his life with The Les Elgart Orchestra while Larry continued to perform and record regularly for decades thereafter.

Larry's biggest exposure came in 1982, with the smash success of a recording called "Hooked on Swing". The instrumental was a medley of swing jazz hits - "In the Mood", "Cherokee", "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree", "American Patrol", "Sing, Sing, Sing", "Don't Be That Way", "Little Brown Jug", "Opus #1", "Zing Went the Strings of My Heart" and "A String of Pearls" - that became so popular it even cracked the US Billboard Pop Singles chart (at #31) and Adult Contemporary chart (#20).[4] This was the final hit for any artist in the year-long "medley craze," that lasted from 1981 to 1982. Billed as "Larry Elgart and His Manhattan Swing Orchestra," the LP from which the tune was taken hit #24 on the US charts. The follow-up, Hooked on Swing 2, debuted at #89 on the album charts, and soon after Larry was back to the jazz touring circuit. He continued to tour internationally and record into the 2000s.

A resident of Longboat Key, Florida, Elgart died in Sarasota, Florida, at the age of 95.[1][5]


  • Band with Strings (Decca, 1954)
  • Larry Elgart & His Orchestra (Decca, 1954)
  • Barefoot Ballerina (Decca, 1955)
  • Larry Elgart and His Orchestra (RCA Victor, 1959)
  • New Sounds at The Roosevelt (RCA Victor, 1959)
  • Saratoga (RCA Victor, 1960)
  • Easy Goin' Swing (RCA, 1960)
  • Sophisticarted Sixties (MGM, 1960)
  • The Shape of Sounds to Come (MGM, 1961)
  • Visions (MGM, 1961)
  • The City (MGM, 1961)
  • Music in Motion! (MGM, 1962)
  • More Music in Motion (MGM, 1962)
  • The Larry Elgart Dance Band (Project, 1979) (reissue of New Sounds at the Roosevelt)
  • Flight of the Condor (RCA Victor, 1981)
  • Hooked on Swing (RCA/K-Tel International (1982)
  • Hooked on Swing 2 (RCA Victor, 1983)
  • Larry Elgart and His Swing Orchestra (RCA Victor, 1983)
  • Let My People Swing (K-Tel, 1995) (also a reissue of New Sounds at the Roosevelt)
  • Live at the Ambassador (Quicksilver, 1998)
  • Latin Obsession (Sony, 2000)
  • Bandstand Boogie (2003)

With Les Elgart

  • Impressions of Outer Space (Brunswick, 1953)
  • Prom Date (Columbia, 1954)
  • Campus Hop (Columbia, 1954)
  • More of Les (Columbia, 1955)
  • Sophisticated Swing (Columbia, 1953)
  • Just One More Dance (Columbia, 1954)
  • The Band of the Year (Columbia, 1954)
  • The Dancing Sound (Columbia, 1954)
  • For Dancers Only (Columbia, 1955)
  • The Elgart Touch, (Columbia, 1955)
  • The Most Happy Fella (Columbia, 1956)
  • For Dancers Also (Columbia, 1956)
  • Les & Larry Elgart & Their Orchestra (Columbia, 1958)
  • Sound Ideas (Columbia, 1958)
  • Les Elgart on Tour (Columbia, 1959)
  • The Great Sound of Les Elgart (Columbia, 1959)
  • The Band With That Sound (Columbia, 1960)
  • Designs For Dancing (Columbia, 1960)
  • Half Satin Half Latin (Columbia, 1960)
  • It's De-Lovely (Columbia, 1961)
  • The Twist Goes to College (Columbia, 1962)
  • Best Band on Campus, (Columbia, 1962)
  • Big Band Hootenany (Columbia, 1963)
  • Command Performance (Columbia, 1964)
  • The New Elgart Touch (Columbia, 1965)
  • Elgart au Go-Go, (Columbia, 1965)
  • Sound of the Times (Columbia, 1966)
  • Warm and Sensuous (Columbia, 1966)
  • Girl Watchers (Columbia, 1967)
  • Wonderful World of Today's Hits, (Columbia, 1967)



  1. ^ a b Grimes, William (August 31, 2017). "Larry Elgart, Who Kept Swing Up to Date, Dies at 95". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ Jackson, Kenneth T. "Elgart, Les(ter) Elliot" in The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, p. 147. Gale, 2000. ISBN 9780684806440. Accessed September 3, 2017. "During the 1930s the family moved several times, finally settling in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey, where the brothers attended Pompton Lakes High School."
  3. ^ "Les and Larry Elgart". Space Age Musicmaker. Retrieved August 31, 2017. 
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2000). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Hits (7th ed.). Billboard Books. p. 212. ISBN 9780823076901. 
  5. ^ Johns, Katie (August 31, 2017). "Larry Elgart remembered for his love of swing music". YourObserver. 

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