Randy Brooks, Class of '37, was a phenomenal musician. At the age of 12, he was the winner in a competition of 2000 young trumpet aspirants. Two years later, he was asked to join Rudy Vallee's popular radio show. There Randy dazzled audiences with his superb classical trumpet solos. His real fame began when he joined the world famous Les Brown orchestra. When he started his own band, he set a long-run record at New York's famous Roseland Ballroom. In 1947, a piece he performed, Tenderly (music by Walter Gross, Lyrics by Jack Lawrence, arranged by George Barden), reached #1 on the Billboard's music chart. It was the most requested song in the country. Arrangements of Tenderly are still being sold today.
SANFORD - By the time Randy Brooks started high school, he was already a well known musician, not just in Sanford, but nationwide. He went from Sanford High to New York City and musical fame, eventually forming his own orchestra. In 1947, Brooks' version of "Tenderly," became the most requested song in the country. In fact, arrangements of "Tenderly" are still being sold today.
Randy Brooks' lasting contribution to the musical field which he so loved is why he has been chosen as a member of the Sanford High School Hall of Fame.
Randy got his start at the age of 8, playing in a cornet trio with his parents in the Sanford Salvation Army band. When he was 12, Randy won a competition for young trumpet players, beating out over 2,000 other entrants.
Two years later, at the age of 14, he gained national fame with his appearances on Rudy Vallee's national radio program, where he was asked to be a permanent member of the band. However, he was too young to sit in with the regular brass section, so each week he would perform a classical trumpet solo to rave reviews.
After graduating from Sanford High in 1937, Brooks went to New York City to seek his fortune in the music business.
When he got to New York, Brooks joined the musician's union. Although he was intimidated by the number of the more established horn players, he was determined to see his dream through.
Brooks summed up his feelings in "A Door Will Open," a biography by Helen Pajama. "Approximately five thousand men were (in the union)...This was the first time I was ever frightened, for that's a lot of men to compete with. However with horn under my arm, I looked about me and said to myself, 'Look, Randy, go back to Maine or stick this out.' Although terrified, I decided to stick this out."
Brooks' persistence paid off. He worked his way through the New York scene, playing more and more prestigious venues and steadily earning more money for his efforts. It was about this time that Brooks earned his nickname, "The Golden Trumpet".
After a few years of playing in other bandleader's orchestras, Randy was ready to form his own. In 1944, he formed the Randy Brooks band. As he said in Pajama's book, on the first day of rehearsal for his new band, Brooks was in some impressive company. "When I walked into the rehearsal hall that first morning, I took a special delight in observing the surroundings. For instance, in Studio No. 1 there might be the Lionel Hampton Orchestra; in Studio No. 6 Duke Ellington...and Studio No. 4 Randy Brooks! This is what I wanted all these years."
It didn't take long for Brooks to become well known. In 1946, his band began a successful run at New York's famed Roseland Ballroom. Brooks' band set the record for the longest run at the Roseland, and was named "best new orchestra" for 1946.
Besides the gig at the Roseland, the Randy Brooks Band was selected to play the annual "Harvest Moon Festival" at New York's Madison Square Garden.
In 1947, Brooks' band had been named "one of the best bands in the nation" by Downbeat Magazine, a music business publication.
Brooks' recordings were gaining nationwide fame. Besides "Tenderly," which sold over a million copies, Brooks also recorded songs such as: "Don't Let Me Dream," "Moonmist," "Harlem Noctrum," and "Laughing on the Outside (Crying on the Inside)".
Brooks told Pajama the reasons why he felt his music was so popular. "I gained the respect and admiration of the American public with my beautiful sounding dance music. I liked good lyrics as well as my precision, for I am a kind of romantic. My music was smooth."
Brooks' time at the top was to be tragically short-lived however. In 1950, as he was at the height of his popularity, Brooks suffered a cerebral stroke which left him partially paralyzed and unable to perform.
Despite being told by his doctors that he would never play the trumpet again, Brooks went through a long fight to rehabilitate.
In 1958, eight years after he was stricken, Brooks' hard work paid off. He returned to the bandstand once again, playing for about 1,000 people at the Sanford Armory.
The return of "The Golden Trumpet" proved to be short lived. He suffered a second stroke and was forced to retire in 1961.
After his retirement, Brooks moved back to Sanford. In Pajama's book, he said that of all the places he had visited, Sanford was first in his heart. "I went back to Sanford and was glad to be home. Of all the places I have been in the world, such as California, South America, Honolulu, and in the Islands, the nicest place in the whole wide world is right here in this little home town."
Sadly, Brooks' retirement did not last long. He died March 21, 1967 in a fire at his Springvale apartment at the age of 48.
Randy Brooks life might not have been a long one, but he still lives on through his music. With arrangements of "Tenderly" and other songs of his still available today, the "Golden Trumpet" of Randy Brooks will never be silenced.
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© 2004 Sanford High School