Herbert "Bud" Hugh BechtoldNovember 29, 1927 ~ July 11, 2017 (age 89)
Legendary traditional jazz player died unexpectedly on Tuesday, July 11, 2017, in Traverse City.
Bud’s love of music began at an early age with piano and violin lessons. Also included, during this time period, was a tour with the “National Barn Dance” radio station “WLS”. LuLubelle and Scotty were Bud’s chaperones while Bud tap-danced his way across the country.
A stay at St. Johns Military School in Wisconsin presented an opportunity for Bud to play lead alto clarinet with a big band in Milwaukee. None of the seasoned band members knew that he was only 17 years old at the time.
Every place Bud went included music. He put together bands in Tulsa, OK, while attending the Spartan School of Aviation. Tulsa also gave Bud the experience of playing with the famous Western Swing Bands that traveled through the area including “Leon Henderson and his Swing Band”.
Music was important even during Bud’s tour of duty in Korea where he somehow gathered enough musical instruments and musicians to entertain the troops on the transport ship both leaving and returning to the USA.
Back home again, Bud played in the orchestras for musicals including “Camelot”. He also played in “Hello Dolly”, rewriting the entire orchestral score to fit a seven piece jazz band.
Bud has been a member of the legendary “Epsilon Jazz Band” for over 50 years and has been its musical director for most of that time. For the past many years, he has presented a “History of Jazz” series at the First Presbyterian Church in Petoskey, Michigan using the talented members of the EJB during the Dixieland Church Service with a Concert following.
Some of the bands in this country Bud has performed with include: Ann Arbor Alley Cats, Boll Weevils, Wolverine Stompers, New Reformation Jazz Band, Renaissance Jazz Band, Slabtown Marching Society, Dixieland Express (on the Mississippi Queen and Delta Queen), Basin Street Saloon Band, Harry Hibbard’s Riverboat Six, The Great Lakes Connection, The Interstate Eight of Chicago, Don Ingle’s Jack Pine Savages and The Michigan Night Hawk, The Back Room Gang, The Alamo City Jazz Band of San Antonio, Texas: the Old Waterloo Jazz Band of Austin, Texas: The Happy Jazz Band and The World’s Greatest Jazz Band.
Bud has performed as an all-star in festivals and concerts in N.O. (including Pete Fountain’s), Memphis, St. Louis, Elkhart, San Francisco, Toronto, Rockford, Illinois, and many other cities throughout the world. Bud has also had the privilege of performing with Eubie Blake, Henry Cuesta, Chuck Hedges, Tom Pletcher, Dave Remington, Bud Freeman, Jim Cullum, Sr., Billy Butterfield, Ralph Hutchinson, Denny Huntley, Rick Culver, Gus Johnson, Vic Dickenson, Ralph Sutton, Bob Wilbur, Bobby Lewis, Bob Haggart, Yank Lawson, Connie Jones, Eddie Higgins, John Ulrich, and many others.
Through his many years of playing music, Bud has kept his home in Bellaire, Michigan but has traveled extensively in the USA and abroad. One of his favorite trips was the tour he took performing in Australia and New Zeeland, coast to coast. Included in this tour was a week long Jazz Convention held in Lawnceston, Tasmania. In Australia, Bud played with the great Bob Barnard, trumpet; Ross Nicholson, reeds; and “Australia’s pioneer of traditional jazz” pianist, Ian Pierce, who opened his home to Bud, making it possible for him to meet and play with many other top musicians of that beautiful country.
Bud’s great passion of keeping Traditional Jazz, Swing and Standards pure in form, has become a life long project. He kept alive its history and taught the three important components America’s original music requires; a rhythm pattern, a chord pattern and a melody line.
Each performance Bud gave incorporated these components, which translates into beautiful music played from the heart.
Bud is survived by his wife, Rose Bechtold; three daughters, Jeanette Brown, Kathy (Stewart) Trepte and Beth Parker; two granddaughters; two grandsons; eight great granddaughters; and one great grandson.
A jazz session to celebrate Bud’s life was held on August 28, 2017, from 2:00 to 5:00 P.M. at the Torch Lake Yacht Club, 10280 Larson Rd, Bellaire, MI 49615.
A memorial service will be held on Tuesday, October 24, 2017, at 6:00 P.M. at the First Presbyterian Church in East Jordan with military honors to follow.