Pierre Dewey LaFontaine, Jr.
(born July 3, 1930), is a New Orleans clarinetist.
to a Belgian radio program ("La troisieme oreille", produced by
Marc Danval), his name was originally Pierre de la
was born in New Orleans and started
playing clarinet, heavily influenced first by Benny Goodman
and then by Irving Fazola
. Early on he played with the
bands of Monk Hazel
and Al Hirt
. With his long time friend, trumpeter
, Fountain founded
The Basin Street Six
After this band broke up four years later Fountain was hired to
join the Lawrence Welk orchestra
and became well known for his many solos
on Welk's ABC television show
, The Lawrence Welk Show
caused a brief controversy by firing Fountain for "jazzing up" a
Christmas number on the show. Fountain returned to New Orleans, played with
The Dukes of Dixieland, then
began leading bands under his own name, owning his own club in the
Quarter in the 1960s and 1970s.
He later acquired
"Pete Fountain's Jazz Club" at the Riverside Hilton in downtown New
Pete Fountain Day in New Orleans
The New Orleans Jazz Club presented the Pete Fountain Day on
October 19, 1959, with celebrations honoring the pride of their
city concluding with a packed concert that evening. His Quintett
was made up of his studio
recording musicians, Stan Kenton
bassist Don Bagley, vibeist Godfrey Hirch, pianist Merle Koch and
the outstanding double bass drummer Jack
. Fountain brought these same players together
in 1963 when they played the Hollywood Bowl.
Pete would make the trek to Hollywood many
times appearing on The Tonight
with Johnny Carson
In 2003 Fountain closed his club at the Hilton with a performance
before a packed house filled with musical friends and fans.
began performing two nights a week at Casino Magic in Bay St. Louis,
Mississippi where he had a home (later destroyed by Hurricane Katrina).
After heart surgery in 2006 he performed at JazzFest
, and helped
reopen the Bay St. Louis Casino which has the new name of the
Hollywood Casino. As of March, 2007 he has returned to performing
Tuesday and Wednesday nights there.
Fountain was a founder, and is the most prominent member of
The Half Fast Walking
one of the best known marching Krewes
that parades in New Orleans on
Mardi Gras Day
. The original name was "The Half-Assed Walking
Club" and was an excuse to take a "lubricated" musical stroll down
the parade route. Pete changed the name under pressure exerted by
the parade organizers. On Mardi Gras Day 2007 Pete once again
joined his Half Fast Walking Club, having missed the event in 2006
due to illness.
Fountain's clarinet work is noted for his sweet fluid tone. He has
recorded over 100 LPs and CDs under his own name, some in the
Dixieland style, many others with only peripheral relevance to any
type of jazz
Loyola University New
awarded Fountain an honorary degree in 2006.
On March 18, 2007, Pete Fountain was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of
5, 2008, Fountain was inducted at the seventh annual Delta Music
Museum Festival in Ferriday in Concordia
An exhibit was dedicated to Fountain, and he
received a star on the museum "Walk of Fame" sidewalk, according to
the office of Louisiana Secretary of State Jay Dardenne