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Jenny Breau

Lenny Breau was born August 5, 1941 and died August 12, 1984. Lenny was born in Auburn, Maine, USA to Hal "Lone Pine" Breau and Betty Cody. Lone Pine and Betty were country and western performers who were active together as a live and recording act from the mid 1940's to the late 1950's. Lenny took up the guitar at age 7 in Maine and by the age of 12 performed regularly as part of Lone Pine and Betty's travelling band. Billed as " Lone Pine Jr. - The Guitar Wizard", he was lead guitarist for the band, and was featured doing primarily Merle Travis and Chet Atkins instrumentals. Lenny usually sang a couple of songs per show as well. In 1957, Lone Pine and Betty moved their family to Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada and formed a band to perform regularly on CKY Radio's live broadcast of the show "Caravan". Lenny left Lone Pine's band around 1959 and began to perform with local Winnipeg Jazz musicians at such venues as "Rando Manor"; and the "Stage Door". It was during this period that Lenny came under the musical guidance of pianist Bob Erlandson and began to receive a jazz education that he developed on the bandstand. In 1962 Lenny made a move to Toronto, Canada where he joined with singer/ actor Don Francks and acoustic bassist Ian Henstridge to form the group "Three". The group performed in Toronto, Ottawa and New York and was featured in the National Film Board documentary "Toronto Jazz" (1962). An album was recorded at a live club date in New York city and the trio subsequently appeared on both the "Jackie Gleason" and "Joey Bishop" - American network television shows.

Lenny then returned to Winnipeg and became the main guitarist for many CBC Radio and Television sessions, "Teenbeat","Music Hop" and his own "Lenny Breau Show"- were broadcasted on CBC Winnipeg television. In 1968 & 69 Lenny recorded two albums for RCA with his Winnipeg trio featuring Ron Halldorson (electric bass) and Reg Kelln (drums). The first album was a studio session produced in Nashville by Chet Atkins, and the second a live session recorded in Hollywood at the jazz club, "Shelly's Manne Hole"; which was produced by Danny Davis. From late 1969 through 1973 Lenny played primarily in Toronto and Ottawa and worked as a sideman for Moe Koffman, Jimmy Dale, Beverly Glenn Copeland and Anne Murray, to name a few. He also led his own trio with various sidemen and performed at such venues as "The Riverboat" and "George's Spagetti House" in Toronto. After doing a national tour with Anne Murray, Lenny returned to Winnipeg late in 1973 and continued performing solo, in trios and as a sideman. Reunited with Kelln and Halldorson, they appeared at Manitoba's "Festival of Life and Learning". Lenny also played solo regularly at the "Ting", a Winnipeg coffeehouse. From 1974 until his death Lenny travelled extensively between Edmonton, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Toronto, Nashville, New York, Maine and Los Angeles. During this period Lenny recorded for many small record labels as both leader and sideman. Some of the musicians he worked with included pedal steel great Buddy Emmons, guitarists Chet Atkins and Phil Upchurch and country fiddler Buddy Spicher. The last period of Lenny's life (1981-84) was spent primarily in Los Angeles where he taught guitar at the "Musicians Institute" and performed at several jazz clubs, most notably "Donte's.

Lenny was found dead in the swimming pool of his apartment complex on August 12th, 1984. Although his death was originally thought to be an accidental drowning, it was soon discovered that he had actually been murdered. The Los Angeles Coroner report determined that Lenny had been strangled; the case remains unsolved to this date. The guitar community from around the world was shocked at the circumstances of Lenny's death. There were many tributes to his life published including a feature in Guitar Player magazine plus stories in several major newspapers. At in Los Angeles many guitarists gathered for a night in rememberance of Lenny's life. The place was packed with friends and guitar luminaries to hear a performance by Joe Pass, Ron Eschete, Joe Diorio and others playing in tribute to Lenny. Maybe I'll go down in history as the guy who started this one style. All the guitarists who come up and ask how I do it, maybe one day they can say, Hey, man, I learned this from know, as long as I get some kind of credit, that's all. I might not end up making a million bucks, but I'd like to be known as the guy who started this movement. Lenny Breau.

Courtesy: Honkanen Jorma -

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