Trombonist Paul Tanner Dies At 95

During his career, he played for Glen Miller and the Beach Boys among others. From the Greatest Generation to the Baby Boomers, Tanner's music spanned the ages.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The musician Paul Tanner has died. If you're not a close reader of liner notes, you may never have heard his name but generations of Americans know his music.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC, "IN THE MOOD")

GREENE: This song, "In the Mood," by the Glen Miller Orchestra was a hit back in 1940. And young musician named Paul Tanner was playing trombone.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

That style of music faded from popularity, but Tanner lasted. More than a quarter century later, he had a crucial role in another very important and very different hit.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GOOD VIBRATIONS")

THE BEACH BOYS: (Singing) I'm picking up good vibrations. She's giving me excitations. Oom-bop-bop. I'm picking up.

INSKEEP: That's "Good Vibrations" by The Beach Boys. Listen carefully and you hear a high-pitched space-age sound in the background.

GREENE: And that's Paul Tanner again, bridging the Big Band and Beach Boys eras. This time, he's playing the Electro-Theremin which gives the song its eerie, sliding sound.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC, "GOOD VIBRATIONS")

INSKEEP: Paul Tanner died this week at the age of 95. He made the music for the Greatest Generation and the music of the Baby Boomers. The span of his career just happened to coincide with huge changes at the middle of the 20th century, and he was in the studio to play it.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC, "IN THE MOOD")

INSKEEP: It's "In the Mood" on NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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