Canadian History for Kids!
Sketches of Canada for November 5th!

Canadian History for Kids: Guy Lombardo

The leader of the big band that brought the world, ‘The sweetest music this side of heaven”, died November 5, 1977. This Canadian History for Kids, Sketches of our Canada, looks at the career of Canada’s own Guy Lombardo.

This Canadian History for Kids article begins when Guy Lombardo was born in London, Ontario, in 1902 to to Italian-Canadian immigrants, Gaetano Sr. and Lena Lombardo. His father had four of his five sons learn to play instruments so they could accompany him.

Lombardo and his brothers, Carmen, Lebert, and Victor formed their first orchestra while still in grammar school and rehearsed in the back of their father’s tailor shop.

Lombardo first performed in public with his brother Carmen at a church lawn party in London in 1914.

This Canadian History for Kids article continues when the Lombardo quartet played its first important engagement at an outdoor dance pavilion at Grand Bend, Ont, during the summer of 1919. With an larger group, the Lombardos spent the winter season 1922-23 at the Winter Garden in London and the summer of 1923 at Port Stanley, Ontario.

In 1924 the orchestra, now called Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians, and took a two-year appointment at a Cleveland nightclub, the Claremont Tent. There, the band was coached by the owner, Louis Bleet, who has been credited with slowing the band’s tempo down. These changes to the dance band style of the day, together with the developing Lombardo sound, really helped the Royal Canadians’ popularity.

Guy Lombardo is best known for almost a half-century of New Year’s Eve big band remotes, first on radio, and then on television. Lombardo’s orchestra played at the “Roosevelt Grill” in the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City from 1929 to 1959, with their New Year’s Eve performances .

Broadcasts and telecasts of their performances were a major part of New Year’s celebrations across North America; millions of people watched the show with friends at house parties. Due to this popularity, Lombardo was officially known as, “Mr. New Year’s Eve.”

The Royal Canadians were noted for playing the traditional song Auld Lang Syne as part of the New Years celebrations. The band’s first New Year’s Eve radio broadcast was in 1928; within a few years, they would be heard on the CBS Radio Network before 12 Midnight Eastern time, then on the NBC Radio Network after 12 Midnight EST.

The Royal Canadians recording of Auld Lang Syne still plays as the first song of the new year in Times Square.

And that’s this weeks Canadian History for Kids, Sketches of our Canada.

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