Paul Tanner, who was the last surviving member of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, has died of complications from pneumonia. He was 95 years old.
Tanner played trombone for the popular jazz ensemble from 1938-1942 before moving on to play at movie studios; he later had a successful career as a music professor at UCLA, and in the late ’50s famously partnered with inventor Bob Whitsell to create a new musical instrument called the Electro-Theremin. This version of the theremin–an instrument which can be played without touch due to sensitive antennae on top–allowed the musician to have greater control over the sounds and pitches it produced, and was used to great effect on the Beach Boys song “Good Vibrations”.
Tanner’s second wife, Jeanette, said that he had a profound influence on his music students and often received letters from them years after graduation, thanking him for his time.
“He used to crowd the auditorium area where he had his classes, and it got so full that the fire department closed the doors and wouldn’t let any more in. I still get letters from people that were his students. They said that he changed their life,” she said.
All in all, not a bad career for a boy from Skunk Hollow, Kentucky. Tanner is survived by his wife and two stepsons.