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KNOXVILLE — “Heeeeere’s Johnny!” That lead-in, followed by a big band trumpet blast, was the landmark of late-night television for three decades.

It was “The Tonight Show.” “Johnny” was Johnny Carson, the announcer was Ed McMahon, and the man behind the trumpet was Doc Severinsen, who will visit the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, School of Music next week to talk about his career and play a couple of songs.

“Trumpet Talk with Doc” begins at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 11, in the Cox Auditorium in the Alumni Memorial Building. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be followed by a photograph and autograph session at 8:30 p.m. Attendees also will be able to test out S.E. Shires custom trumpets, the kind of instrument Severinsen plays.

The evening also will feature special guest Vince DiMartino, one of the most sought-after trumpet performers and educators in the country. DiMartino, who is also a distinguished artist in residence at Centre College in Danville, Ky., is an acquaintance of Severinsen and has been influenced by his work.

Severinsen and “The Tonight Show” crew ruled the night air for 30 years until the show’s end in 1992. Within a week of the final telecast, “Doc Severinsen and His Big Band” was on the road. The group includes other “The Tonight Show” musicians Ed Shaughnessy on drums, Ernie Watts on tenor sax and Snooky Young on trumpet.

To Severinsen, playing his music is no longer just a job.

“I used to play music for a living. Now it’s a way of life. Music keeps me going,” he said.

Severinsen’s talent was discovered at age 7, when only a week after buying a trumpet and learning to play it, he was invited to play with the high school band because of his skill. At the age of 12, he won the Music Educator’s National Contest and, while still in high school, was hired to go on the road with the famous Ted Fio Rito Orchestra. He joined “The Tonight Show” Band in 1962 as first trumpet, taking over as music director five years later.

Severinsen, who now lives in Mexico, won a Grammy for his recording of “Doc Severinsen and The Tonight Show Band – Volume I.” He has made more than 30 albums.

Severinsen’s talk is sponsored jointly by the UT School of Music and the S.E. Shires company.


Kristi Hintz, Media Relations, (865-974-3993,

Cathy Leach, School of Music (865-974-6558,